Latest Blog Posts

Wang and colleagues investigated responses to environmental advertisements, but their findings are applicable, outside the specific situation in which data were collected. The researchers report that their study indicates “a difference in beauty-related experience between warning- and vision-based advertisements, with higher scores in the ‘interesting’ dimensions and lower scores in the ‘boring’ ones, accompanied by the more intense ‘awesome,’ ‘inspiring,’ and ‘surprising’ experiences for warning-based than for vision-based advertisements. . . . If the natural environment of one place/region is adequate, it would seem more suitable to choose a vision-based appeal; otherwise, it would seem more appropriate to choose a warning-based appeal. . . . [analyses indicated] more negative emotional or aesthetic experiences for warning-based advertisements. More positive experiences were elicited by vision-based advertisements.” Information was provided about the types of advertisements viewed: “Warning-based advertisement aims to warn persons to focus on environmental issues and to persuade them to protect or beautify the environment by presenting negative or threatening environmental information or realities. . . . vision-based creative advertisements attempt to persuade individuals to protect the environment by presenting a beautiful ecological landscape or natural environment.”

Shen Wang, Meililao Yuan, Yuan Bai, and Meifena Hua. “Beauty is Not in the Eye But in the Inner Head: Evidence from Environmental Advertising.”  Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, in press,

Hughes and research partners developed the shared features principle. They provide details about the principle, which  “refers to the idea that when 2 stimuli share 1 feature, people often assume that they share other features as well. . . .  Our results indicate that behavioral intentions, automatic evaluations, and self-reported ratings of a target object were influenced by the source object with which the target shared a feature. This was even the case when participants were told that there was no relation between source and target objects. Taken together, the shared features principle appears to be general, reliable, and replicable across a range of measures in the attitude domain.”

Sean Hughes, Jan De Houwer, Simone Mattavelli, and Ian Hussey. 2020.  “The Shared Features Principle:  If Two Objects Share a Feature, People Assume Those Objects Also Share Other Features.”  Journal of Experimental Psychology:  General, vol. 149, no. 12, pp. 2264-2288,

Research conducted by Tarlao, Steffens, and Guastavino confirms the many factors can influence perceptions of sound being experienced besides the actual noises themselves. The team reports that “Previous soundscape research has shown a complex relationship between soundscapes, public space usage and contexts of users’ visits to the space. . . . The present study is a comparative analysis of in situquestionnaires collected over four study sites in Montreal . . . . in both French and English. . . .  The analyses. . .. . suggest[s] that younger people, women, and extraverted people occupy the public space more in groups, and that people in groups rate the soundscape as more pleasant and less eventful. Older people and women were found to be more sensitive to noise, and more sensitive people tended to perceive the soundscape as less pleasant and less monotonous.”

Cynthia Tarlao, Jochen Steffens, and Catherine Guastavino.  “Investigating Contextual Influences on Urban Soundscape Evaluations with Structural Equation Modeling.”  Building and Environment, in press, 

Researchers studying gestures across cultures have identified similarities and differences in their use that are relevant to people designing systems interfaces and other places/objects to be used by people from varying cultures. Zhang, Gai, Wu, Liu, Oiu, Wang, and Wang’s work with people from the US and China is discussed in a Penn State press release:  “Imagine changing the TV channel with a wave of your hand or turning on the car radio with a twist of your wrist.  Freehand gesture-based interfaces in interactive systems are becoming more common. . . . The team found that while many preferred commands were similar among both cultural groups, there were some gesture choices that differed significantly between the groups. For example, most American participants used a thumbs up gesture to confirm a task in the virtual reality environment, while Chinese participants preferred to make an OK sign with their fingers. To reject a phone call in the car, most American participants made a horizontal movement across their neck with a flat hand, similar to a “cut” motion, while Chinese participants waved a hand back and forth to reject the call.”  Findings are published in the International Journal of Human-Computer Studies.

“Researchers Study Influence of Cultural Factors on Gesture Design.”  2020.  Press release, Pennsylvania State University,

Methorst and colleagues investigated links between nearby species biodiversity and human wellbeing. The researchers report that they “examine[d] the relationship between species diversity and human well-being at the continental scale, while controlling for other known drivers of well-being. We related socio-economic data from more than 26,000 European citizens across 26 countries with macroecological data on species diversity and nature characteristics for Europe. Human well-being was measured as self-reported life-satisfaction and species diversity as the species richness of several taxonomic groups (e.g. birds, mammals and trees). . . . bird species richness is positively associated with life-satisfaction across Europe. We found a relatively strong relationship, indicating that the effect of bird species richness on life-satisfaction may be of similar magnitude to that of income. . . . this study argues that management actions for the protection of birds and the landscapes that support them would benefit humans.”

Joel Methorst, Katrin Rehdanz, Thomas Mueller, Bernd Hansjurgens, Aletta Bonn, and Katrin Bohning-Gaese.  “The Importance of Species Diversity for Human Well-Being in Europe.”  Ecological Economics, in press,

Research completed by a Mullen-lead team not only confirms the value of air outside being fresh, but also the advantages of air brought into buildings being “scrubbed.”  The investigators report that  “Fine particulate air pollution is harmful to children in myriad ways. While evidence is mounting that chronic exposures are associated with reduced academic proficiency, no research has examined the frequency of peak exposures. . . . [the researchers examined] the percentage of third grade students who tested below the grade level in math and English language arts (ELA) in Salt Lake County, Utah primary schools . . . where fine particulate pollution is a serious health threat. More frequent peak exposures were associated with reduced math and ELA proficiency, as was greater school disadvantage. High frequency peak exposures were more strongly linked to lower math proficiency in more advantaged schools. Findings highlight the need for policies to reduce the number of days with peak air pollution.”

Casey Mullen, Sara Grineski, Timothy Collins, and Daniel Mendoza. 2020.   “Effects of PM2.5 on Third Grade Students’ Proficiency in Math and English Language Arts.”  International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, vol. 17, no. 18, 6931,

Research confirms that our experiences are influenced by language being spoken and culture. Gianola, Losin, and Llabre found, via a study published in Affective Science, that “the language a bilingual person speaks can affect their physical sensations, depending on the cultural association tied to each vernacular. . . . bilingual Hispanic/Latino participants . . . participate[d] in separate English and Spanish testing sessions. During both sessions, they received a pain-induction procedure, when an experimenter applied painful heat to their inner forearm. The primary difference between the two experimental visits was the language being spoken (English or Spanish). . . . participants who engaged more with the Hispanic culture showed higher pain when speaking Spanish, while more U.S.-American identified participants reported higher pain in English. People who were fairly balanced in their engagement with U.S.-American and Hispanic culture had pain outcomes that didn’t differ much across languages. The study also suggests that bodily responses to the pain played a larger role in determining pain ratings among more Hispanic oriented bilingual participants.”

“Language, Cultural Identity Can Affect Pain.”  2020. Press release, University of Miami.

Salvador, in the course of a furniture design project, completed a literature review focused on the psychological implications of experiencing wooden materials.  He reports that “A literary review based study revealed woodenmaterials in interiors and objects to have a positive psychological influence in humans, with a pacifying and relaxing effect.”

C. Salvador. 2019.  “Human Interaction, Emotion and Sustainability:  Designing Wooden Children’s Furniture.”  In F. Rebelo and N. Soares (eds.)  Advances in Ergonomics in Design, AHFE 2018 International Conference on Ergonomics in DesignOrlando, FL, Springer International Publishing, Cham Switzerland, pp. 599-606.

Douce and Adams studied combined sensory experiences in retail environments.  They report that their lab and field experiments indicate that “when a third high arousal cue is added sensory overload (i.e., rise in perceived arousal and decrease in perceived pleasantness) occurs under the condition that this third cue is processed by a higher sense (i.e. visual or auditory sense). Furthermore, a decrease in approach behavior and evaluations is also observed when these conditions are met. . . . Retailers, and other individuals responsible for the holistic experience of environments, should consequently remain attentive to the combined arousing qualities of all cues, especially if these cues are processed by the higher sense of sight and audition as well as when color(s) are a dominant factor. . . . If the target-arousal is high, then it could be that adding high arousal cues is appropriate and would not lead to a decrease in pleasure.”

Lieve Douce and Carmen Adams. 2020.  “Sensory Overload in a Shopping Environment:  Not Every Sensory Modality Leads to Too Much Stimulation.” Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, vol. 57,  102154,

Yildirim and team assessed the implications of indoor plants in restaurants.  They found using digital images that “restaurants designed with indoor plants had a more positive effect on the shopping decisions of participants than restaurants designed without indoor plants. . . . higher education graduate participants showed more positive opinions about the plant designed restaurant than secondary education graduate participants. . . . Results of the study suggest that retailers and designers may be able to make easily stores more appealing for customers by designing them with indoor plants.”

Kemal Yildirim, Kaya Yildirim, Nazende Nazli, and Ferdi Olmus. 2020.  “The Effects of Indoor Plants on Customers’ Shopping Decisions in a Restaurant Environment.”  International Journal of Retail and Distribution Management, vol. 48, no. 12, pp. 1301-1314,


Subscribe to Latest Blog Posts