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Research by Silvia and his team confirms that people prefer shiny objects to matte ones.   Silvia and colleagues share that “Researchers in the evolutionary aesthetics tradition have suggested that people prefer shiny objects because glossiness connotes water. We . . . present an experiment that manipulated the glossiness of metal objects. Young adults . . . viewed silver coins that were either dull or in ‘brilliant uncirculated’ condition as well as copper cylinders that were either rough and tarnished, polished with a brushed surface, or polished with a mirror finish. Ratings of attractiveness showed that people preferred the shiny over the tarnished coin and the glossy copper bar over the tarnished and brushed ones. These effects were not . . . due to perceived quality or implied effort.”

Paul Silvia, Alexander Christensen, Katherine Cotter, Tatyana Jackson, Corey Galvean, Tanner McCroskey, and Aaliyah Rasheed.  “Do People Have a Think for Bling?  Examining Aesthetic Preferences for Shiny Objects.”  Empirical Studies of the Arts, in press.

A press release from Nagoya University indicates that seeing ourselves while we eat affects how much food we consume.  The reported findings have repercussions for the use of mirrors and mirror-like surfaces in spaces where people will eat and are particularly relevant, for example, in environments for older individuals who often dine alone.  Researchers determined that “people eating alone reported food as tasting better, and ate more of it, when they could see themselves reflected in a mirror, compared with when they ate in front of a monitor displaying an image of a wall.”  Previous research has shown that “People rate food as tasting better, and eat more of it, when they eat with company than when they eat alone.” The study reporting these new results was published in Physiology and Behavior and Ryuzaburo is its lead author.

“Lost Your Appetite?  Try Inviting Yourself to Dinner.”  2017.  Press release, Nagoya University,

Smith’s work verifies that having a comfortable level of control over our lives increases our wellbeing and it also supports adding bicycle storage rooms to office buildings.  Smith found that “Active travelers are happiest with their commute trips. . . .For car and transit commuters, traffic congestion significantly decreases commute well-being and using the trip productively increases commute well-being . . . Data were collected from a web-based survey of workers . . . in Portland, Oregon, U.S.A. with four modal groups: walk, bicycle, transit and car users. . . . along with travel mode, traffic congestion, travel time, income, general health, attitudes about travel, job satisfaction and residential satisfaction also play important individual roles in shaping commute well-being. . . .  people who bike and walk to work are happier with their commutes and are relatively unaffected by traffic congestion compared to bus and car commuters.”

Oliver Smith.  2017.  “Commute Well-Being Differences by Mode:  Evidence from Portland, Oregon, USA.  Journal of Transport & Health, vol. 4, pp. 246-254.

Research by Baranowski and Hecht confirms that it's important for the seats of all people participating in a conversation to be about the same height above the ground.  The duo reports that “Film theories have long proposed that the vertical camera angle influences how the scene and the character in it are interpreted. An elevated camera (high-angle shot) should diminish the qualities of the actor, whereas a lowered camera (low-angle shot) should elevate the actor in perspective as well as in the viewer’s opinion. . . .  We filmed 12 actors in a scenario inspired by a TV show called Split or Steal, which features a one-time version of the prisoner’s dilemma. Subjects had to rate trustworthiness and attractiveness of the actors, and also judge if the actors would lie or tell the truth. We found that actors were rated as most trustworthy when filmed from eye-level, and less so when the camera was lowered or raised. Camera elevation had no effect on attractiveness. Also, personality ratings of the actors were not altered by varying camera angle.”

Andreas Baranowski and Heiko Hecht.  “Effect of Camera Angle on Perception of Trust and Attractiveness.”  Empirical Studies of the Arts, in press.

Skelton and her colleagues thoroughly investigated how babies (4 to 6 month olds) experience colors.  They determined that “infants have color categories for red, yellow, green, blue, and purple. We show that infants’ categorical distinctions align strikingly with those that are commonly made in the world’s different color lexicons [systems/dictionaries]. . . . These findings suggest that color categorization is partly organized and constrained by the biological mechanisms of color vision and not arbitrarily constructed by language.”  This research by Skelton and team confirms that babies have color vision and suggests that restricting their spaces/objects to a black and white palette, as is sometimes done with very young children, may be a practice that should be abandoned.

Alice Skelton, Gemma Catchpole, Joshua Abbott, Jenny Bosten and Anna Franklin.  2017.  “Biological Origins of Color Categorization.”  Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, vol. 114, no. 21, pp. 5545-5550.

McKimmie and his colleagues probed how courtroom design influences opinions of defendants.  They report that their “study examined the effect of courtroom design, and more specifically where the defendant was positioned (in an open dock, in an open dock guarded by a correctional officer, in a dock surrounded by glass, or at the bar table) on mock jurors’ perceptions of the defendant. The participants . . .  described the defendant in more negative terms when the defendant was portrayed in either an open dock, glass dock, or in the presence of a correctional officer compared to when the defendant was portrayed as sitting at the bar table with the defence counsel.”

Blake McKimmie, Jillian Hays, and David Tait. 2016.  “Just Spaces:  Does Courtroom Design Affect How the Defendant is Perceived?”  Psychiatry, Psychology and Law, vol. 23, no. 6, pp. 885-892.

Kotabe, Kardan, and Berman studied how the appeal of viewed nature is influenced by the disorder present in it.  They share that “Natural environments have powerful aesthetic appeal linked to their capacity for psychological restoration. In contrast, disorderly environments are aesthetically aversive, and have various detrimental psychological effects. But in our research, we have repeatedly found that natural environments are perceptually disorderly.”  An explanation is provided for this paradox, based on the research conducted by Kotabe and his team: “nature scenes can be disorderly yet aesthetically preferred because the effect of naturalness on aesthetic preference is stronger than the effect of disorder on aesthetic preference. . . . . [in experiments conducted] the most ordered natural scenes were most aesthetically preferred and the most disordered built scenes were least aesthetically preferred, with orderly built scenes and disorderly natural scenes falling between in a nearly linear pattern. . . . Zen gardens may be very beautiful, but if one were to stumble upon an untouched natural landscape that is highly ordered like a Zen garden, it may be exalted into an aesthetic class of its own. . . . This paper suggests that order should be considered in the design of both greenspace environments and virtual environments.”

Hiroki Kotabe, Omid Kardan, and Marc Berman.  “The Nature-Disorder Paradox:  A Perceptual Study on How Nature is Disorderly Yet Aesthetically Preferred.”  Journal of Experimental Psychology:  General, in press.

Harris Poll, on behalf of Sherwin-Williams, conducted the National Painting Week Color Psychology Study, collecting information from 2,201people over age 18 via an online survey.  Among the interesting findings: “62 percent of Americans select[ed] blue as one of the colors they like most. The strong preference for blue is consistent across genders, regions and age. Many Americans also said they associate blue with calmness (45 percent). . . .The color black is the second-most popular color (32 percent), followed by red (31 percent). . . . The majority of Americans (58 percent) say that more vibrant colors should be used throughout the home rather than just neutral tones. . . . Generations see green differently. Millennials are more likely than older generations to most associate the color with energy (33 percent vs. 24 percent of Gen Xers2 and boomers3). Baby boomers are more likely than millennials to associate green with calmness (26 percent vs. 20 percent). Forty-two percent of Americans associate yellow with happiness; men are more than twice as likely as women (35 percent to 17 percent) to associate yellow with ‘weakness.’”

“Americans Say They’re Ready for More Vibrant Colors, but Many Still Play It Safe with Neutrals.”  2017.  Press release, Sherwin-Williams,

Often workplaces are redesigned during periods of organizational change and research released by the American Psychological Association indicates that organizational change can be very stressful.  Workplaces can be designed to defuse at least some of that stress and the knowledge that it is present should inform the interpretation of research data, for example, information collected in the course of a post-occupancy evaluation.  The APA press release reports that “American adults who have been affected by change at work are more likely to report chronic work stress, less likely to trust their employer and more likely to say they plan to leave the organization within the next year compared with those who haven’t been affected by organizational change. . . .  Workers who reported being affected by organizational change currently or within the past year reported lower levels of job satisfaction compared with employees who reported no recent, current or anticipated changes (71 percent vs. 81 percent). . . . Working Americans also appeared skeptical when it comes to the outcomes of organizational changes. Only 4 in 10 employees (43 percent) had confidence that changes would have the desired effects and almost 3 in 10 doubted that changes would work as intended and achieve their goals (28 percent each). . . . Workers reported having more trust in their companies when the organization recognizes employees for their contributions, provides opportunities for involvement and communicates effectively.  

“Change at Work Linked to Employee Stress, Distrust and Intent to Quit, New Survey Finds.”  2017.  Press release, American Psychological Association,

Streicher and Estes gathered evidence indicating that haptic, or touch-related, experiences have a significant effect on consumer behavior.  They report that  “Consumers often touch products before reaching purchase decisions, and indeed touch improves evaluations of the given product. . . . We show that grasping a . . . product increases . . . the likelihood of choosing [a haptically similar; “haptic” means ”touch”] product. . . . We also show that visually crowded rather than sparse product displays increase the effect of touch on choosing other haptically similar products. . .  Our results suggest that by manipulating or mimicking the haptic features (e.g., shape and size) of objects that consumers grasp while shopping, marketers can develop packaging that . . . increase[es] choice of those products.”

Mathias Streicher and Zachary Estes.  2016.  “Multisensory Interaction in Product Choice:  Grasping a Product Affects Choice of Other Seen Products.”  Journal of Consumer Psychology, vol. 26, no. 4, pp. 558-565.


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