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Researchers continue to investigate the effects of carbon dioxide levels on human thinking and behavior.  Karnauskas, Miller, Schapiro have determined that “As the 21st century progresses, rising atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations will cause urban and indoor levels of the gas to increase, and that may significantly reduce our basic decision-making ability and complex strategic thinking. . . . By the end of the century, people could be exposed to indoor CO2 levels up to 1400 parts per million—more than three times today's outdoor levels and well beyond what humans have ever experienced. . . . Put simply, when we breathe air with high CO2 levels, the CO2 levels in our blood rise, reducing the amount of oxygen that reaches our brains. Studies show that this can increase sleepiness and anxiety, and impair cognitive function. . . . at 1400 ppm, CO2 concentrations may cut our basic decision-making ability by 25 percent, and complex strategic thinking by around 50 percent.”  This study is published in GeoHealth.

“Continued CO2 Emissions Will Impair Cognition.”  2020.  Press release, University of Colorado Boulder,

Spence and Carvalho add to the interesting body of research linking sensory experiences. Via a literature review focused on factors related to drinking coffee they found, for example, that “Those who liked strong coffee tended to drink more under conditions where the ambient lighting was bright (two 500 watt halogen lamps), while those who self-reported preferring weaker coffee drank more under dim conditions instead (one 60-watt incandescent bulb) [Gal, Wheeler, and Shiv 2007]. . . . Knoferle (2012) . . . was able to systematically influence what people said about a cup of Nespressor coffee simply by filtering the sounds made by the coffee machine. . . . When the harsher, higher-pitched sounds of the machine’s operation were accentuated, participants . . . rated the coffee as tasting harsher and/or more bitter.  When the high-frequency components were cut, taste ratings suddenly went up. Specifically, the spectral contents of the sound associated with the operation of the coffee machine were either boosted or cut by 20 dB between frequencies of 2.5 and 6.5 kHz.”  Information on the relationships between sensory experiences is regularly reported in Research Design Connections.

Charles Spence and Fabiana Carvalho.  “The Coffee Drinking Experience:  Product Extrinsic (Atmospheric) Influences on Taste and Choice.”  Food Quality and Preference, in press,

Estrada-Gonzalez and teammates studied the effects of painting size on museum visitors’ viewing behaviors.  A literature review completed by the team before they began to collect data revealed that “Seidel and Prinz (2018) . . . found that merely altering physical scale of a painting (small vs. large) influenced aesthetic judgment. Participants evaluated larger reproductions more positively, regardless of whether the painting was high in complexity (Picasso’s Three Musicians) or low (Joan Miro’s Blue II).  . . . Clarke et al, (1984) varied the size of projected art images and asked their participants to choose the distance from which either the artworks ‘look best’ or felt the most comfortable. . . . all participants chose to view the larger artworks from a greater distance, regardless of instruction. Moreover, Clarke et al, also found that viewing time increased with the projections size. . . .. in a real art gallery setting, Carbon (2017) confirmed a high positive correlation between the artwork size and viewing distance:  the larger the artwork, the greater the viewing distance observed.”  Estrada-Gonzalez’s team analyzed the behaviors of people looking of 20th-century art and report that relatively larger paintings are more likely to be visited/looked at and that they are looked at for longer periods of time than relatively smaller ones.

Vicente Estrada-Gonzalez, Scott East, Michael Garbutt, and Branka Spehar.  2020. “Viewing Art in Different Contexts.” Frontiers in Psychology, doi:  10.3389/fpsyg.2020.00569

Beier and colleagues researched how culture influences responses to music.  They report on “measure[ing] chill responses, sudden increases in emotional arousal, through self-report and skin conductance measures. Excerpts of Western classical, traditional Chinese, and Hindustani classical music were presented to 3 groups of participants, each familiar with one of these styles. Participants felt a similar number of chills to both familiar and unfamiliar musical styles, but significantly fewer chills to scrambled music, which acted as a control. Acoustic analyses revealed that sudden peaks in loudness, brightness, and roughness were correlated with chills across styles, suggesting that similar acoustic elements induced emotional responses cross-culturally. . . ., this research counters the idea of musical emotional meaning as being entirely generated within cultural conventions and supports the claim that some aspects of the way music conveys emotion may be shared across cultures.”

Eleonora Beier, Petr Janata, Justin Hulbert, and Fernanda Ferreira.  “Do You Chill When I Chill?  A Cross-Cultural Study of Strong Emotional Responses to Music.”  Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, in press,

A recent article in Current Biology details why social distancing is so difficult for humans.  Deroy, Frith, and Dezecache report that “people instinctively tend to huddle together when faced with an acute danger – in other words, they actively seek closer social contacts. . . .  threatening situations make us even more cooperative and more likely to be socially supportive than we usually are. . . .  The demands now being made by governments to self-isolate and follow social distancing guidelines are fundamentally at odd with our social instincts, and therefore represent a serious challenge for most people. . . . because social distancing stands in opposition to our natural reaction to impending hazards, our social inclinations – rather than antisocial reactions to rationally recognized threats – now risk exacerbating the danger.”

“The Downside of Social Distancing.”  2020. Press release, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitat Munchen,

Mask’s book probes the power of street names.  Her review is valuable because. “Street names . . . are about identity, wealth, and . . . race.  But most of all they are about power—the power to name, the power to shape history, the power to decide who counts, who doesn’t, and why. . . . We think of street addresses as purely functional and administrative tools, but they tell a grander narrative of how power has shifted and stretched over the centuries. I make this argument through stories, for example, of streets named after Martin Luther King Jr., the way-finding methods of ancient Romans, and Nazi ghosts on the streets of Berlin. This book travels to Manhattan in the Gilded Age, London during the reign of Victoria, and Paris during the Revolution. . . . Arguing about street names has become a way of arguing about fundamental issues in our society at a time when doing so sometimes feels impossible. How often are we called to take a stand and decide who we are as a community?  We lose something of ourselves if we don’t keep up the relentless, argument-riddled, community-based work of mapping and naming the places where we live.”

Deirdre Mask. 2020.  The Address Book:  What Street Addresses Reveal About Identity, Race, Wealth, and Power.  St. Martin’s Press; New York.

Etkin and Memmi researched how we decide whether to spend time working or not working; future research may support extrapolating their findings to the allocation of resources besides time.  Etkin and Memmi report that “Leisure is desirable and beneficial, yet consumers frequently forgo leisure in favor of other activities—namely work. . . . Because work tends to be easier to justify and leisure harder to justify, goal conflict increases time spent on work and decreases time spent on leisure.  . . . The findings. . . . have implications for the use of ‘time-saving’ technologies and the marketing of leisure activities.”

Jordan Etkin and Sarah Memmi.  “Goal Conflict Encourages Work and Discourages Leisure.”  Journal of Consumer Research, in press,

The AIA has developed a checklist that can be used to evaluate buildings that might be used as temporary healthcare facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic.  It is available here.          The checklist is immediately useful for its intended purpose and can also be used during the programming/development of additional sorts of locations, with appropriate modifications.  As detailed at the beginning of the checklist, it “contains information synthesized from non-crisis situations (design principles, available supporting evidence, or translation of applicable standards) in combination with federal documents issued during the COVID-19 crisis. The content was prepared with joint professional input from trained and experienced health care architects, designers, engineers, scientists, life-safety consultants, healthcare professionals, and hospital facility operations. . . . The checklist does not describe mandatory requirements; it does highlight important areas for evaluation by hospital and public health agencies in selecting ACS for the care and treatment of COVID-19 or surge-capacity patients. The goal is to identify appropriate rapid- adaptive reuse of existing built environments such as convention centers, sports arenas, community centers, hotels, dormitories, or other space for occupancy during the pandemic.”

Spence investigated how temperature is linked to the experience of other sensory stimuli.  His review of the literature indicates that “The last few years have seen an explosive growth of research interest in the crossmodal correspondences, the sometimes surprising associations that people experience between stimuli, attributes, or perceptual dimensions, such as between auditory pitch and visual size, or elevation. . . . I take a closer look at temperature-based correspondences. The empirical research not only supports the existence of robust crossmodal correspondences between temperature and colour (as captured by everyday phrases such as 'red hot') but also between temperature and auditory pitch. Importantly, such correspondences have (on occasion) been shown to influence everything from our thermal comfort in coloured environments through to our response to the thermal and chemical warmth associated with stimulation of the chemical senses, as when eating, drinking, and sniffing olfactory stimuli.”

Charles Spence.  “Temperature-Based Crossmodal Correspondences:  Causes and Consequences.”  Multisensory Research, in press, doi:  10.1163/22134808-20191494

Zografos has written an interesting text that will intrigue people developing an assortment of different sort of sites.  As detailed at its UCL Press website, Architecture and Firefocuses on “the intimate relationship between architecture and fire.  Stamatis Zografos expands on the general agreement among many theorists that the primitive hut was erected around fire – locating fire as the first memory of architecture, at the very beginning of architectural evolution. . . . [Zografos] explore[s] the ambivalent nature of fire . . . before discussing architectural conservation and the relationship between listed buildings, the function of archives, and the preservation of memories from the past. . . . Architecture and Fire is founded in new interdisciplinary research navigating across the boundaries of architecture, conservation, archival theory, classical mythology, evolutionary theory, thermodynamics, philosophy and psychoanalysis.”

Stamatis Zografos. 2019. Architecture and Fire:  A Psychoanalytic Approach to Conservation.  UCL Press; London, United Kingdom.  Available for free download at:


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