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Parsons reviews current research on thermal comfort; material that can be usefully applied in a variety of environments, from offices to public spaces, indoors and outside.  This text is useful to practitioners, from architects to ergonomists, and includes a model linking thermal conditions and human performance.

Ken Parsons.  2020.  Human Thermal Comfort.  Taylor & Francis; Boca Raton, FL.

The Center for the Built Environment at the University of California, Berkeley has presented its 2020 Livable Building Award to the renovation and expansion of Lick-Wilmerding High School in San Francisco.   The award “recognizes buildings that demonstrate ‘livability’ in terms of occupant satisfaction, sustainability and architectural design. . . . .The award jury, consisting of CBE industry partners, commended the design of the school in terms of its openness to the community, its layered access to views and daylight, and also that the design addressed equity, carbon and resilience. . . . The strategies employed in this renovation may be broadly applicable to older K-12 schools, many of which suffer from low levels of funding and deferred maintenance.” Additional information about the winning project, as well as photographs of it, are available at

David Lehrer. 2020. “Modernization of a Mid-Century High School Earns 2020’s Livable Building Award.  Press release, Center for the Built Environment,

Loder’s book shares useful insights on greening cities.  In her introduction, Loder describes her text: it focuses on “how creatively bringing nature into cities can provide multiple benefits that can help to mitigate many of the urban problems we face. . . . Using new research and case studies on perceptions of small-scale urban greening projects  . . . and comparative case studies of urban greening policies, this book explores how SSUG projects can positively impact our sense of place, health, and creativity while also addressing current gaps and tensions around equity, sustainability, and public perception.  Examination of these case studies not only demonstrates that assumptions about the human relationship to nature can create conflict or missed opportunities for SSUGs, but also highlights some alternative research lenses that can help to develop new methods, interpretations, and design options from this more holistic viewpoint.”

Angela Loder. 2020.  Small-Scale Urban Greening: Creating Places of Health, Creativity, and Ecological Sustainability.  Routledge; New York.

Researchers link feelings of ownership to greater likelihood of helping others.  Jami, Kouchaki, and Gino knew “from previous studies that touching an object increases psychological ownership. . . . Like touch, customization had been shown in previous studies to engender a sense of ownership. . . .  participants [in the Jami, Kouchaki, and Gino study] whose sense of ownership had been activated were more generous than those in the control group. . . . [however] ‘if we think about their [the things we own’s] negative features, we do not see a boost in self-esteem, and as a result, we don’t see a boost in prosocial behavior’ [quote attributed to Jami].. . . Allowing for customization of a service—like selecting from an array of pillows and bedding in a hotel room or seating styles in a movie theater—could activate a consumer’s sense of ownership over a place or experience, and might yield positive effects for everyone, Jami suggests.”  Customization, as discussed here, is consistent with environmental control.

Susie Allen. 2021.  “A Surprising Benefit of Feeling Ownership Over Your Possessions.” Press release, Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University,

Fokkinga, Desmet, and Hekkert assessed the dimensions of human experience of design.  After collecting data via a series of expert workships the trio identified three levels of user-product interactions “At the base, user-product interaction evokes three types of direct product experience: aesthetic experience, experience of meaning, and emotional experience. The second level describes more indirect and long-term types of impact: on behaviors, attitudes, (general) experiences, and users’ and stakeholders’ knowledge. The third and final level represents the general quality of life and society. . . Visual product appearance typically comes to mind first as a trigger of meaning, but meanings also arise from the sounds a product makes (this car sounds powerful), its tactile properties (this phone feels sturdy), or the product behavior (this ticket machine is being rude). . . . Product aesthetics concerns the extent to which the product gratifies (or offends) the human sensory systems, including our brain. . . . product emotions are subjective because they do not only depend on product features, but also on the individual’s personal needs, goals, values, and abilities.”    Full details on this framework are available without charge at the web address noted below. 

Steven Fokkinga, Pieter Desmet, and Paul Hekkert.  2020. “Impact-Centered Design: Introducing an Integrated Framework of the Psychological and Behavioral Effects of Design.”  International Journal of Design, vol. 14, no. 3,

Rosenthal and colleagues studied how color is experienced in the brain.  They report that they used “multivariate analyses of measurements of brain activity obtained with magnetoencephalography to reverse-engineer a geometry of the neural representation of color space. . . . We evaluate the approach by relating the results to universal patterns in color naming. . . . prominent patterns of color naming could be accounted for by the decoding results: the greater precision in naming warm colors compared to cool colors.”

Isabelle Rosenthal, Shridhar Singh, Katherine Hermann, Dimitrios Pantazis, and Bevil Conway.  2021.  “Color Space Geometry Uncovered with Magnetoencephalography.”  Current Biology, vol. 31, no. 3, pp. 515-526,

Putrino, Ripp, Herrera, Cortes, Kellner, Rizk, and Dams-O’Connor studied the effects of space design on healthcare workers’ moods.  They report that after a neuroscience lab was redesigned as a healthcare staff relaxation area “Frontline healthcare workers were invited to book 15-min experiences in the Recharge Room before, during or after their shifts, where they were exposed to the immersive, multisensory experience. . . users . . . completed a short survey about their experience. . . . After a single 15-min experience in the Recharge Room, the average user-reported stress level was significantly reduced.”  The Recharge Room was described by the researchers: there were “multisensory (visual, auditory, and olfactory), nature-inspired experiences. . . . environments include silk imitation plants, projected scenes of soothing natural landscapes, low lighting that is tailored in color to match the projected landscapes, high definition audio recordings of nature sounds paired with relaxing music, and an infusion of essential oils and calming scents using an essential oil diffuser.”

David Putrino, Jonathan Ripp, Joseph Herrera, Mar Cortes, Christopher Kellner, Dahlia Rizk, and Kristen Dams-O’Connor.  2020. “Multisensory, Nature-Inspired Recharge Rooms Yield Short-Term Reductions in Perceived Stress Among Frontline Healthcare Workers.”  Frontiers in Psychology, vol. 11, 560833,

Stancato and Keltner continue to research the implications of feeling awed.  People can be awed by craftsmanship, material use, or other aspects of design. Stancato and Keltner report that “Guided by prior work documenting that awe promotes humility, increases perceptions of uncertainty, and diminishes personal concerns. . . we tested the hypothesis that awe results in reduced conviction about one’s ideological attitudes. . . . participants induced to experience awe, relative to those feeling amusement or in a neutral control condition, expressed less conviction regarding their attitudes toward capital punishment. . . . experiencing awe decreased perceptions of ideological polarization in the U.S. vis-à-vis racial bias in the criminal justice system . . . and reduced desired social distance from those with different viewpoints regarding immigration. . . . These findings indicate that awe may lead to uncertainty and ambivalence regarding one’s attitudes . . . and that this in turn may promote reduced dogmatism and increased perceptions of social cohesion.”

Daniel Stancato and Dacher Keltner.  2021. “Awe, Ideological Conviction and Perceptions of Ideological Opponents.”  Emotion, vol. 21, no. 1, pp. 61-72,

Cobanoglu, of the University of South Florida, reports on work conducted with Ali, Nanu, Shahtakhtinskaya, and Rahman related to mask wearing during the pandemic and optimal mask colors.  It may be possible to apply these findings in additional contexts. The researchers learned via a survey administered to 1,800 Americans during which  “respondents visited a restaurant or hotel as a guest, doing so virtually. . . . Results show that customers perceive higher service quality in a restaurant or hotel if employees wear masks, regardless of the color or type of mask. . . . Results show . . . a white mask is perceived the highest, followed by a colorful mask, black mask, blue mask and clear mask. . . . Based on the results of this study, scholars recommend hotel and restaurant employees use a white mask. . . . While many service establishments use clear masks as they believe they show the expressions of the service person, this study shows that customers are not likely to make that same connection and the masks were perceived as significantly less valuable than others.”

Cihan Cobanoglu. 2020.  “Do Masks Make a Difference in Customer Perception of Service Quality in Hotels and Restaurants?”

Dolese and Kozbelt studied preferences for different sorts of art, among other topics.  They report that “Here we develop and analyze results of a survey . . . Comparisons of artists’ and nonartists’ ratings on highly abstract versus representational paintings showed a consistent strong effect for painting type, with representational paintings receiving generally higher ratings on . . . liking by both groups.”

Melissa Dolese and Aaron Kozbelt.  “Art as Communication:  Fulfilling Gricean Communication Principles Predicts Aesthetic Liking.”  Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, in press,


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