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Any time of year when there is heating or air conditioning in use, which is just about the entire year in most of the world, there are at-work debates about optimal workplace temperatures.  Gunay and team have investigated requests to change workplace temperatures.  In the course of their study “Custom temperature setpoint change requests from four [large] office buildings were analyzed.” The researchers learned that the “the majority of the setpoint change requests were either to increase the default 22 °C [about 72 degrees Fahrenheit] temperature setpoints during the cooling season or to decrease them during the heating season. . . . . the [HVAC-type] operators tend to make greater setpoint changes upon hot and cold complaints than the occupants make through their thermostat overrides.”

H. Gunay, Weiming Shen, Guy Newsham, and Araz Ashouri.  2018. “Modelling and Analysis of Unsolicited Temperature Setpoint Change Requests in Office Buildings.”  Building and Environment, vol. 133, pp. 203-212, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.buildenv.2018.02.025

The End of Sitting workplace is nothing if not unique and thought-provoking.  To take a look at The End of Sitting, visit this website (it’s hard to appreciate the findings of the studies noted below without checking out the workplace images):  https://www.archdaily.com/574795/the-end-of-sitting-raaaf

Caljouwde Haan, Mollee, and Withagen report that “Rietveld-Architecture-Art-Affordances acknowledged the public health concern of sitting too much and developed The End of Sitting—a workspace without chairs that provides a variety of supported standing positions. In the current study middle-aged office workers were to use the End of Sitting for one hour per week over a ten-week period. . . . we found that the self-reported office task performance (concentration, quality of work, productivity), mood (energized, well-being, pleasantness) and postural comfort were not negatively affected by working in this new office environment compared to their conventional workplace.”  

Withagen and Caljouw in 2016 reported on the same The End of Sitting location: “The End of Sitting, is a sculpture whose surfaces afford working in several non-sitting postures (e.g. lying, standing, leaning). . . .  It was found that 83 % of participants worked in more than one non-sitting posture in The End of Sitting. All these participants also changed location in this working environment. On the other hand, in the conventional office all but one participant sat on a chair at a desk during the entire work session. On average, participants reported that The End of Sitting supported their well-being more than the conventional office. Participants also felt more energetic after working in The End of Sitting. No differences between the working environments were found in reported concentration levels and satisfaction with the created product.”

S. Caljouw, E. de Haan, N. Mollee, and R. Withagen.  “The End of Sitting:  How Middle-Aged Employees Use and Experience a New Activity-Inducing Office Over Time.” Journal of Environmental Psychology, in press, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envp.2019.01.001

R. Withagen and S. Caljouw.  2016. “’The End of Sitting’: An Empirical of Working in an Office of the Future.”  Sports Medicine, vol. 46, no. 7, pp. 1019-1027, doi:  10.1007/s40279-015-0448-y.

Imschloss and Kuehnl’s findings, consistent with previous research, indicate how important consistency in sensory experiences can be.  They determined that “In retail environments, consumers commonly evaluate products while standing on some type of flooring and concurrently being exposed to music. . . . The results of an experiment in a real retail store reveal positive effects of multisensory congruent retail environments (e.g., soft music combined with soft flooring) on product evaluations. . . . . consumers in congruent rather than incongruent retail environments experience more purchase‐related self‐confidence, which in turn leads to more favorable product evaluations. Furthermore, this study shows that consumers with a low rather than a high preference for haptic [touch-related] information are influenced more by multisensory atmospheric congruence when evaluating a product haptically.”

M. Imschloss and C. Kuehnl. 2017.  “Don’t Ignore the Floor:  Exploring Multisensory Atmospheric Congruence Between Music and Flooring in a Retail Environment.”  Psychology and Marketing, vol. 34, no. 10, pp. 931-945, http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/mar.21033

Rawal studied how much greenery is necessary to support recovery from stressful situations.  He reports that “Psychological stress was first induced in the participants using Trier Social Stress Test (TSST) and then they were randomly assigned to experience one of four, 360-degrees panoramic images of an urban park using Immersive Virtual Environment (IVE). Three groups viewed images of urban parks with density of vegetation varying from 3% to 70%, while the control group viewed an image with no nature elements. .  . . results indicate that as the percentage of vegetation cover increases from barren to greener scenes, there is a rapid decrease in stress until the density of vegetation reaches about 50% of the visible space; higher densities predict higher stress.”

S. Rawal.  2018.  “Impact of Urban Park Design on Recovery from Stress:  An Experimental Approach Using Physiological Biomarkers.”  Dissertation Abstracts International Section A: Humanities and Social Sciences, 79(12-A(e)).

Gruner and colleagues add to our understanding of location-related factors that influence the evaluations of artworks.  They determined that “artworks presented in a museum were liked more and rated more interesting than in the laboratory.”

Susanne Gruner, Eva Specker, and Helmut Leder.  “Effects of Context and Genuineness in the Experience of Art.”  Empirical Studies of the Arts,in press, https://doi.org/10.1177/0276237418822896

Micromobility services, providing dockless bikes and electric scooters, for instance, abound in cities.  Transportation for America has prepared a “playbook” for managing these services in ways that optimize positive experiences, which is available free at the website noted below.  On the Shared Micromobility Playbook’s website Steve Davis describes it: “Produced in collaboration with 23 cities, Transportation for America released a new “Playbook” to help cities think about how to best manage shared micromobility services like dockless bikes, electric scooters, and other new technologies that are rapidly being deployed in cities across the country. . . The Shared Micromobility Playbook is intended to help cities better understand the variety of policy levers at their disposal and it explores the core components of a comprehensive shared micromobility policy for local governments as they consider how best to manage these services. . . . Each section identifies key policy areas to reflect on, highlights the various options in each policy area, reviews the pros and cons of each level of action, and provides case studies of cities that have enacted certain policies.”  Transportation for America intends to continue to refine and enhance the Shared Micromobility Playbook over time.

https://smartgrowthamerica.org/new-playbook-provides-a-guide-for-how-cit...

Research recently completed by Rucker and Cannon indicates the importance of nonverbal communication. The Rucker/Cannon team’s findings are likely relevant in many contexts beyond the ones specifically tested.  According to a study-related article in KelloggInsight, “Over several decades, researchers have observed a Range Rover-sized pile of benefits from conspicuously consuming luxury goods.  High-status brands, these papers found, might help you get a date, obtain a job, secure a charitable donation, and receive more money in a negotiation. . . .[Rucker and Cannon found that] While sporting luxury brands boosted perceptions of a person’s status, they observed it also led them to be seen as less warm. . . . . The experiment replicated what other researchers had found—luxury consumption elevated the person’s perceived status. The man in the Gucci t-shirt was rated as more prestigious and elite than the man in the plain t-shirt. But importantly, Rucker and Cannon also discovered something novel: participants saw the Gucci-sporting man as less warm overall.”

“Why We Can’t All Get Away with Wearing Design Clothes.” 2019.  KelloggInsight, https://insight.kellogg.northwestern.edu/article/luxury-goods-perception...

How smart buildings should communicate with their users was investigated by Khashe, Gratch, Gratch, and Becerik-Gerber.  They determined that “people connect better with a computer-generated avatar that represents building management. . . . social banter between machine and people gets better results.  The findings underscore how personal connections and social interactions key to human relations also foster cooperation between people and machines. . . . subjects were exposed to an office setting using virtual reality, followed by a real office setting for a smaller group of participants. The researchers crafted pro-environmental messages for a virtual assistant . . . to ask questions, such as ‘If I open the blinds for you to have natural light, would you please dim or turn off the artificial lights?’ . . . people responded better when Ellie, the virtual human, acted on behalf of the building manager, rather than when she performed as a personification of the building.. . . . The scientists noted similar results whether study participants operated in an actual office or virtual reality simulation.”  The Khashe lead study was published in the International Journal of Human-Computer Interaction. 

“How to Improve Communication Between People and Smart Buildings.”  2019.  Press release, University of Southern California, https://news.usc.edu/153526/improving-communication-between-people-and-s...

The types of foods present nearby influence eating options selected.  A study completed by Huettel and Sullivan and published in Psychological Sciencedetermined that “the nearby presence of an indulgent treat can cause more people to opt for a healthy food. . . . ‘When people choose foods, they don’t simply reach into their memory and pick the most-preferred food. Instead, how much we prefer something actually depends on what other options are available,’ Huettel said. ‘If you see one healthy food and one unhealthy food, most people will choose the indulgent food,” he said. “But if you add more unhealthy foods, it seems, suddenly the healthy food stands out.’ . . . ‘When people see a wall of cabbage and broccoli, that may not encourage people to choose it,’ Sullivan said. ‘Right now, food items are very segregated: here’s the produce, here are the candy bars,’ she said. ‘Yet maybe if we put something healthy in the middle of the snack food section, perhaps that might encourage people to choose it.’”

“Context Shapes Choice of Healthy Foods.”  2019.  Press release, Association for Psychological Science, https://www.psychologicalscience.org/news/releases/context-choice-health...

Research recently published in Current Biologyindicates that men and women respond to places associated with chronic pain differently.  These findings may be applicable to other life experiences. Mogil and Martin report that  “Scientists increasingly believe that one of the driving forces in chronic pain—the number one health problem in both prevalence and burden—appears to be the memory of earlier pain. . . .  there may be variations, based on sex, in the way that pain is remembered in . . . humans.  The research team . . . found that men . . . remembered earlier painful experiences clearly. As a result, they were stressed and hypersensitive to later pain when returned to the location in which it had earlier been experienced. Women . . . did not seem to be stressed by their earlier experiences of pain.”  The women studied were not hypersensitive to later pain when they returned to a location where pain had previously been experienced.

“Men and Women Remember Pain Differently.”  2019.  Press release, McGill University, https://www.mcgill.ca/newsroom/channels/news/men-and-women-remember-pain...

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