Latest Blog Posts

Galoni, Carpenter, and Rao investigated the sorts of choices people make when they are concerned about potentially catching a contagious disease.  They determined  “that contagious disease cues [such as hearing someone cough] can also elicit fear. Across four experiments and two large empirical data analyses of the presence of contagious disease on actual consumption behavior, we find that cues of contagious disease increase both fear and disgust, and these emotions together form a unique behavioral tendency with respect to consumer behavior. Relative to either emotion alone, disgust and fear increase preference for more familiar products asymmetrically over less familiar ones.”

Chelsea Galoni, Gregory Carpenter, and Hayagreeva Rao. “Afraid and Disgusted:  Consumer Choices Under the Threat of Contagious Disease.”  Journal of Consumer Research, in press,

Marks and Goldhagen circulated, via the Association for Neuroscience for Architecture (ANFA) mailing list, a report on ANFA’s last conference, held in 2018 in San Diego.  They share that Alex Coburn (UC San Francisco School of Medicine) reported that “scaling architecture incrementally with fractally-inspired patterns of leaves and ocean waves corresponds with improved memory and mood. . . . Casey Lindberg, a researcher at HKS and the University of Arizona Institute on Place, examined 230 people over three days and two nights, doing different work assignments across different sites and different offices.  . . .  The study data found from recording heart electrical activity that there was a positive correlation between office participants feeling relaxed and experiencing a conference room conversation below ~ 51 decibels. . . .  A team from the ETH Laussane concluded, from classroom volunteers who wore glasses equipped with spectrometers and headbands measuring RGB primary colors, vertical luminous and radiance, that red-impoverished light is more effective in stimulating children’s attention than neutral daylight (due to a concentrated blue, short-wavelength of light that suppresses the hormone melatonin).”  ANFA's 2020 meeting will be in September.

Frederick Marks and Sarah Goldhagen.  2020. “Shared Behavioral Outcomes Linked to Brain Research.”  ANFA September 20-22, 2018 International Conference;  Salk Institute for Biological Studies, La Jolla, CA, USA.

Xu and teammates conducted a multisensory analysis of how context influences impressions of chocolate ice cream eaten.  They determined that “When ice cream was consumed in the café, it was associated with . . . a sweet taste/flavour. When consumed in the university study area, it was correlated with . . . cocoa and milky flavours. Consumption at the city bus stop was correlated with . . . roasted and bitter tastes/flavours. The laboratory environment was only correlated with the attributes . . . creamy flavour. SC [skin conductance] was significantly increased in the university study area as compared to the laboratory, and HR [heart rate] was significantly decreased in the university study area environment as compared to the bus stop. . . .  The café soundscape had the highest sharpness, tonality, and fluctuation strength values as compared to the bus stop, university study area and laboratory environments. In addition, the bus stop soundscape had the highest roughness followed by café, laboratory and the university study area environments.”

Yun Xu, Nazimah Hamid, Daniel Shepherd, Kevin Kantono, and Charles Spence.2019.  “Changes in Flavour, Emotion, and Electrophysiological Measurements When Consuming Chocolate Ice Cream in Different Eating Environments.”  Food Quality and Preference, vol. 77, pp. 191-205,

Pierguidi and colleagues investigated differences in the environments in which people may prefer to drink cocktails;  their findings are relevant to the design of any spaces where alcohol may be consumed.   The team determined that thematic clusters [of study participants] were identified. . . . Theme 1: RELAX: this cluster focuses on an experience of relaxation, comfort (with the characteristic lemmas: /not too noisy/, /nicely/, /suffuse light/, /intimate/) and on the social dimension (/chatting/). These individuals describe their preferred context as a not too crowded situation, with sofas, soft background music and with the possibility of eating something (/buffet/).  Theme 2: SOCIABILITY: this cluster focuses mostly on the social aspects of cocktail consumption. . . . their preferred context as a party or a disco at night where they can seek new experiences. Feelings such as /cheerfulness/ and /carefree/ are also related to their preferred context.  Theme 3: APERITIF: this cluster focuses on a before dinner situation (e.g. /aperitif/, /evening/, /friends/). They describe their preferred context as an open-air popular place or a home situation where they can meet friends to recover from work.”

Lapo Pierguidi, Sara Spinelli, Caterina Dinnella, John Prescott, and Erminio Monteleone. “Sensory Acceptability and Personality Traits Both Determine Which Contexts are Preferred for Consumption of Alcoholic Cocktails.”  Food Quality and Preference, in press,

Sando and Sandseter evaluated how the design of outdoor spaces at early childhood education and care (ECEC) institutions influences children’s (3-4 year old’s) wellbeing (feeling at ease and self-confident, for example) and health (via physical activity). They collected data at 8 ECEC institutions ranging from “small urban environments with mainly asphalt and rubber surface to large (13 000 square meters) natural environments.”    The researchers report that “The importance of promoting a wide range of play activities is demonstrated by the finding that many episodes happened within a symbolic . . . and risky play context. . . . quantitative analysis identified fixed functional equipment and pathways as places that were positively associated with high well-being and physical activity. . . . The pathways could function as a running track, road for cars or a cycling track, depending on the play context and the child's intentions. . . episodes of high well-being and physical activity happen in a variety of places. Having access to different places, smaller and bigger, closed and open, natural and built environments seems to be beneficial. . . .objects are not a necessity for children to experience well-being in physically active play.”      

Ole Sando and Ellen Sandseter.  “Affordances for Physical Activity and Well-Being in the ECEC Outdoor Environment.” Journal of Environmental Psychology, in press,

Gotz and colleagues link area walkability and human personality.  The researchers share that they had “hypothesized that walkability would be positively linked to Agreeableness and Extraversion due to increased opportunities for social interactions and selective migration. . . . walkability was positively related to Extraversion . . . but not to Agreeableness. . . . walkable urban environments may be conducive to a more animated and lively social climate which is reflected in heightened extraversion among residents of such areas. . . . walkability robustly predicts individual Extraversion. . . .This finding is in line with prior research (1) arguing that walkability facilitates repeated social interactions and communication with one's neighbours . . . (2) showing that extraverts are more likely to migrate to densely populated, walkable urban areas. . . . unlike extraverts . . . agreeable people are generally unlikely to move . . .which could explain why they may not be more prevalent in walkable areas, despite finding them attractive.”

Friedrich Gotz, Shinya Yoshino, and Atsushi Oshio.  “The Association Between Walkability and Personality: Evidence from a Large Socioecological Study in Japan.”  Journal of Environmental Psychology, in press,

Redies and colleagues studied the qualities of images to learn which ones are most likely to be present in preferred images.  They determined that “more saturated colors, correlates with positive ratings for valence [which ranged from pleasant to unpleasant]. . . . we obtained evidence from non-linear and linear analyses that affective pictures evoke emotions not only by what they show, but they also differ by how they show.”  

Christoph Redies, Maria Grebenkina, Mahdi Mohseni, Ali Kaduhm, and Christian Dobel. 2020.  “Global Image Properties Predict Ratings of Affective Pictures.”  Frontiers in Psychology,

Perlin and Li confirm that awe is linked to prosocial behavior.  As they report “Awe is an emotional response to stimuli. . . . Curiously, awe has prosocial effects [encourages us to act in ways that benefit other people] despite often being elicited by nonsocial stimuli.”  Awe can be inspired by phenomena that are large/vast, as well as by those that utilize rare materials or exhibit exquisite workmanship, for example.  

Joshua Perlin and Leon Li. 2020.  “Why Does Awe Have Prosocial Effects?  New Perspectives on Awe and the Small Self.”  Perspectives in Psychological Science, vol. 15, no. 2, pp. 291-308,

Loneliness is increasing throughout society and nostalgia can counter the negative effects of feeling lonely;  design decisions can support nostalgia.  Abeyta, Routledge, and Kaslon report that “Loneliness is difficult to overcome, in part because it is associated with negative social cognitions and social motivations. . . . nostalgia, a positive emotional experience that involves reflecting on cherished memories, is a psychological resource that regulates these maladaptive intrapsychic tendencies associated with loneliness. We tested this hypothesis across 4 studies.”

Andrew Abeyta, Clay Routledge, and Samuel Kaslon.  “Combating Loneliness with Nostalgia:  Nostalgic Feelings Attenuate Negative Thoughts and Motivations Associated with Loneliness.”  Frontiers in Psychology, in press, doi: 10.3389/fpsy.2020.01219

Researchers have determined that at-work email interruptions degrade emotional state; it is reasonable to extend their findings to other disruptions experienced.  Pavlidis, Mark, and Gutierrez-Osuna found that “constant interruptions can actually create sadness and fear and eventually, a tense working environment. . .  ‘Individuals who engaged in multitasking appeared significantly sadder than those who did not. Interestingly, sadness tended to mix with a touch of fear in the multitasking cohort,’ Pavlidis said. . . . Negative displayed emotions – especially in open office settings – can have significant consequences on company culture, according to the paper. ‘Emotional contagion can spread in a group or workplace through the influence of conscious or unconscious processes involving emotional states or physiological responses.’"

“Multitasking in the Workplace Can Lead to Negative Emotions.”  2020.  Press release, University of Houston,


Subscribe to Latest Blog Posts