Latest Blog Posts

Researchers confirmed that nudges, including design-based nudges, can influence behavior in intended ways.  A team lead by Mertens determined via a meta-analysis that  By making small changes in our environment, these interventions [nudges] aim to encourage changes in our behaviour, while preserving our freedom of choice. From adding informative labels to reorganising the food offer in a cafeteria, the overall effectiveness of these interventions has now been demonstrated by a scientific team from the University of Geneva (UNIGE). Their results can be found in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. . . .  the theory behind ‘nudging’ theory is based on the principle that our choices are not only determined by our ability to reason, but are also influenced by certain biases such as our emotions, our memories, the opinions of others or the configuration of our environment. Focusing on these elements can therefore be more effective in getting us to change certain behaviours than a ban or an awareness-raising campaign.”

“Inciting Instead of Coercing, ‘Nudges’ Prove Their Effectiveness.”  2022.  Press release, Universite de Geneve,

Research linked creativity and walking some time ago.  Murali and Handel build on prior studies and report that “Creativity, specifically divergent thinking, has been shown to benefit from unrestrained walking. . . .  [during the Murali/Handel project, creativity test] scores were higher during walking than sitting. . . .  participants either walked freely or in a restricted path, or sat freely or fixated on a screen. . . . similar to unrestrained [or free] walking, unrestrained sitting also improves divergent thinking. . . . Since most online teaching involves fixating on a computer screen, the amount of free body movements, including head and eye movements, are greatly reduced compared to a normal classroom set up. . . . introducing periods of free movements in between sessions of online teaching, even during sitting, can improve the flow of ideas and aid in the learning process.”  Murali and Handel found that unconstrained movement, whether sitting or standing, can boost creativity.

Supriya Murali and Barbara Handel.  2022.  “Motor Restrictions Impair Divergent Thinking During Walking and During Walking and During Sitting.”  Psychological Research,

The groundbreaking urban research of William H. is reported in American Urbanist:  How William H. Whyte’s Unconventional Wisdom Reshaped Public Life, by Richard Rein.  The text not only reviews Whyte’s process but also conclusions drawn from data collected.

Richard Rein. 2022.  American Urbanist:  How William H. Whyte’s Unconventional Wisdom Reshaped Public Life.  Island Press, Washington, DC.

Hunter and colleagues studied how neighborhood design influences resident actions.  They report that “Parents . . . with preschoolers . . . living in Edmonton, Canada were recruited from each of Edmonton’s council wards. Parents reported demographic information and the importance of several neighborhood features (destinations, design, social, safety, esthetics) for their child’s active play, their own active recreation, and their coactivity. . . . The majority of parents reported that 23 of the 32 neighborhood features were perceived as being relevant for all activity domains. These included destinations (parks, playgrounds, arenas, schools, sport fields, arenas/ice rinks, river valley/ravine), design features (quiet streets, trails, sidewalks), social features (friends/family, child’s friends, other children playing outside, knowing neighbors, trusting neighbors), safety features (street lighting, crime, traffic, daylight, sidewalk maintenance, crosswalks), and esthetic features (cleanliness, natural features).”

Stephen Hunter, Scott Leatherdale, John Spence, and Valerie Carson.  “Perceived Relevance of Neighborhood Features for Encouraging Preschoolers’ Active Play, Parents’ Active Recreation, and Parent-Child Coactivity.”  Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science, in press,

Steele and Rash evaluated how use of the color red on dishes influences eating.  They report that that two previously published “articles hypothesized that exposure to the color red would induce a state of avoidance motivation and reported that snack food consumption was decreased when the food was served on red plates, relative to white and blue plates. The current experiment combined their procedures and approximately tripled their group sizes. Participants were provided with pretzels on red, white, or blue plates in a mock sensory analysis task. The results indicated that more pretzels were consumed when presented on red plates, in direct contradiction of previous results. Alternative explanations, such as group differences in hunger or preference for pretzels, could not account for the results. The facilitation effect of red indicates that the color red does not always reduce snack food consumption and suggests that the reported inhibitory effect of red on snack consumption may not be reliable.”

Kenneth Steele and Laura Rash.  2021.  “Is the Suppression Effect of the Color Red on Snack Food Consumption Reliable?  Experimental Psychology, vol. 68, no. 4, pp. 214-220,

Berger, Rocklage, and Packard studied the implications of communicating in different ways; their findings are broadly useful, for example, to people doing programming research.  The researchers report that “Consumers often communicate their attitudes and opinions with others, and such word of mouth has an important impact on what others think, buy, and do. . . . Six studies, conducted in the laboratory and field, demonstrate that compared to speaking, writing leads consumers to express less emotional attitudes.  The effect is driven by deliberation.  Writing offers more time to deliberate about what to say, which reduces emotionality.  The studies also demonstrate a downstream consequence of this effect:  by shaping the attitudes expressed, the modality consumers communicate through can influence the impact of their communication.”

Jonah Berger, Matthew Rocklage, and Grant Packard.  “Expression Modalities:  How Speaking Versus Writing Shape Word of Mouth.”  Journal of Consumer Research, in press,

Chang and Kim studied how different sorts of background music in movies influences the thoughts of audience members.  They report that “Films in general, and background music in particular, have the capacity to create positive emotional responses with consumers. While the study centers on social enterprises, as prosocial marketing becomes increasingly important to mainstream companies, the implications of our findings can be more broadly relevant to the latter, especially those that communicate via a film. Through two experiments, this study tests whether the valence (inspiring vs. sad) of the background music in a corporate social responsibility film influences viewers’ perceived para-social interaction, their attitudes toward the diversity protagonist, and their attitudes toward the social enterprise brand. We find that inspiring music leads to increased para-social interaction levels of its subcomponents of empathy, closeness, and elevation. In contrast, no such effect arises when sad music is used. Instead, the only para-social interaction subcomponent that is promoted is consumer feelings of pity.”

Dae Chang and Qurie Kim.  2022.  “A Study on the Effects of Background Film Music Valence on Para-Social Interaction and Consumer Attitudes Toward Social Enterprises.”  Journal of Business Research, vol. 142, pp. 165-175,

Motoki and teammates studied how coffee shop design influences the experiences of people in them.  The investigators report that “Ratings of taste expectations, likelihood of visiting, and emotions were evaluated for each of 50 coffee shop images. . . . The results demonstrate that more reddish and lighter coloured coffee shop images were associated with the expectation that the coffee shop would serve a sweeter coffee, while more greenish and darker coloured coffee shop images were associated with more sour/bitter/tastier coffee expectations as well as a higher likelihood of visiting.”

Kosuke Motoki, Aika Takahashi, and Charles Spence.  2021.  “Tasting Atmospherics:  Taste Associations with Colour Parameters of Coffee Shop Interiors.”  Food Quality and Preference, vol. 94, 104315,

Speak and Salbitano evaluated comfort in a range of different urban places.  They report that The present study is based on a campaign of meteorological measurements in a large number of sites using a mobile data collection system to allow a human-centred approach. . . . In the case study of Florence, local physical characteristics of the sites; Sky View Factor (SVF), tree shade, ground surface cover, and canyon effect, can moderate human exposure to potentially uncomfortable thermal conditions during a typical Mediterranean summer. Significant differences in Universal Thermal Comfort Index (UTCI) were observed between treeless piazzas and streets and landtypes with trees or high height to width ratio (narrow alleys). Varying levels of SVF and tree cover in the sites allowed the construction of multivariate models, which revealed that, during common summer afternoon conditions, decreases of SVF by 12.5% or increases of tree cover by 25% can reduce the UTCI by 1°.”

Andrew Speak and Fabio Salbitano.  “Summer Thermal Comfort of Pedestrians in Diverse Urban Settings:  A Mobile Study.”  Building and Environment, in press,

Walsh, Gorman, and Salmond assessed the inside of International Space Station and their methodology, reported in this free-to-all article, can also be applied in terrestrial environments.  The trio report that they “offer an archaeological analysis of the visual display of ‘space heroes’ and Orthodox icons in the Russian Zvezda module of the International Space Station (ISS). . . .  we use historic imagery from NASA archives to track the changing presence of 78 different items in a single zone. We also explore how ideas about which items are appropriate for display and where to display them originated in earlier Soviet and Russian space stations starting as early as the 1970s. In this way, we identify the emergence and evolution of a particular kind of space station culture with implications for future habitat design. . . . the practices observed here were seemingly unanticipated by Zvezda’s designers—there are no frames or holders for the items and no guidance from the architecture or decor about how and where to place them.”

Justin Walsh, Alice Gorman, and Wendy Salmond.  “Visual Displays in Space Station Culture.”  Current Anthropology, in press,


Subscribe to Latest Blog Posts