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Sander and colleagues studied the effects of open plan offices on worker experiences, coupling self-reports and physiological measures:  “Employing a simulated office setting, we compared the effects of a typical OPO [open-plan office] auditory environment to a quieter private office auditory environment on a range of objective and subjective measures of well-being and performance. . . . OPO noise . . . did reduce psychological well-being as evidenced by self-reports of mood, facial expressions of emotion, and physiological indicators of stress in the form of heartrate and skin conductivity. Our research highlights the importance of using a multimodal approach to assess the impact of workplace stressors such as noise.”  

Elizabeth Sander, Cecelia Marques, James Birt, Matthew Stead and Oliver Baumann.  “Open-Plan Office Noise is Stressful:  Multimodal Stress Detection in a Simulated Work Environment.”  Journal of Management and Organization, in press,

Lim and colleagues evaluated how the design of healthcare facilities influences perceptions of teamwork. They “measured teamwork perceptions of staff members and patients at four primary care clinics providing team-based care. Visual access to staff workstations from both staff and patient perspectives was analyzed using VisualPower tool (version 21). . . .the visual relationships among staff members and those between staff members and patients have significant associations with overall perceptions of teamwork. While clinics providing more visual connections between staff workstations reported higher teamwork perception of staff members, patient perceptions of staff teamwork were inversely [in reverse] related to the number of visual connections between patients and staff workstations.”

Lisa Lim, Ruth Kanfer, Robert Stroebel, and Craig Zimring.  2021. “The Representational Function of Clinic Design:  Staff and Patient Perceptions of Teamwork.”  HERD: Health Environments Research and Design Journal, vol. 14, no. 2, pp. 254-270,

Zhang and Park assessed behavior in underground malls.  They share that “a series of exit-finding tasks in virtual malls were simulated. . . . people have a right-turn preference during exit finding.”

Shaoqing Zhang and Soobeen Park.  “Study of Effective Corridor Design to Improve Wayfinding in Underground Malls.” Frontiers in Psychology, in press, doi:  10.3389/fpsyg.2021.631531

Heft, Schwimmer, and Edmunds studied the implications of using visual navigation systems, such as GPS. They report that “One group of participants drove a simulated car in VR along a designated path while relying on visual GPS guidance. It was expected that use of the GPS display would draw attention away from temporally continuous path information. A second group initially drove the same route without GPS guidance. Both groups drove the path a second time without navigational assistance. Overall, the percentage of correct actions taken at intersections (transitions) during the second trial were significantly lower for the first group who initially drove the route with visual GPS guidance as compared to those who initially traveled the route without it.”

Harry Heft, Kelsey Schwimmer, and Trenton Edmunds.  “Assessing the Effect of a Visual Navigational System on Route-Learning from an Ecological Perspective, Frontiers in Psychology,in press, doi:  10.3389/fpsyg.2021.645677

Kimura and colleagues assessed the how mentally refreshing various situations are.  They report that they conducted an experiment that “involved measuring the changes in the task performance of the participants (i.e., sustained attention to response task) and the subjective mental workload . . . while the attention restoration was indexed from physiological response (i.e., skin conductance level, SCL) over time. The participants had two types of resting periods in the middle of the task, i.e., by looking at a blank display (simple break) or by watching a nature video having scenes of, e.g., a forest, small waterfall, and rustling leaves (nature break). . . . our results showed that taking breaks that involve the natural environment (i.e., nature break condition) restore the attention directed at a task and decreases the SCL, like in previous studies. Moreover, this effect also occurred with brief (i.e., 5 min) and indirect (i.e., videos) exposure, unlike in previous studies.”

Tsukasa Kimura, Tatsuya Yamada, Yohko Hirokawa, and Kazumitsu Shinohara.  2021.  “Brief and Indirect Exposure to Natural Environment Restores the Directed Attention for the Task.”  Frontiers in Psychology, vol. 12,

Sidhu and colleagues extended research findings previously derived with nonwords to English words. The group reports that “Sound symbolism refers to associations between language sounds (i.e., phonemes) and perceptual and/or semantic features. One example is the maluma/takete effect: an association between certain phonemes (e.g., /m/, /u/) and roundness [as, for example, with maluma], and others (e.g., /k/, /ɪ/) and spikiness [as, for instance, with takete]. While this association has been demonstrated in laboratory tasks with nonword stimuli. . . . Here we examined whether the maluma/takete effect is attested in English, across a broad sample of words. . . . We found evidence that phonemes associated with roundness are more common in words referring to round objects, and phonemes associated with spikiness are more common in words referring to spiky objects.”  

David Sidhu, Chris Westbury, Geoff Hollis, and Penny Pexman.  “Sound Symbolism Shapes the English Language:  The Maluma/Takete Effect in English Nouns.”  Psychonomic Bulletin and Review,

James and colleagues, via a literature review, evaluated employee experiences in cellular offices and more open workspaces.  Their research compared data collected for cellular workspaces with information from all other types of work areas (all those without full height walls and a door assigned to one individual).  The researchers determined that “working in open-plan workplace designs is associated with more negative outcomes on many measures relating to health, satisfaction, productivity, and social relationships. Notable health outcomes included decreased overall health and increased stress. Environmental characteristics of particular concern included noise and distractions, poor privacy, lighting and glare, and poorer temperature control. Most studies indicated negative effects on social relationships and interactions. Overall, the findings showed that while open-plan workplace designs may offer financial benefits for management, these appear to be offset by the intangible costs associated with the negative effects on workers.”

Olivia James, Paul Delfabbro, and Daniel King.  “A Comparison of Psychological and Work Outcomes in Open-Plan and Cellular Office Designs:  A Systematic Review.”  Sage Open, in press,


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