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A Konig-lead team confirms the important links between culture and the experience of place.  The researchers report that “The living environment plays a critical role in healthy aging. . . . The aim of this study was to shed light on older adults’ (. . .ages 70+) living situations and their demands on the neighborhood in two countries, the United States . . . and Germany. . . . Differences between countries were more pronounced than differences between age groups or living areas, indicating that cultural influence is a key aspect of needs assessment for neighborhood design. . . . As opposed to Americans, Germans had higher expectations of their immediate neighborhood to fulfill their local (e.g., public transportation) and social needs (e.g., family nearby), but countries did not differ regarding global needs such as safety. Our findings suggest that successful aging in place can be supported by a neighborhood that meets people’s needs, but also takes their cultural background into consideration.”

Katharina Konig, Martina Raue, Lisa D’Ambrosio, and Joseph Coughlin.  “Physical and Emotional Support of the Neighborhood for Older Adults: A Comparison of the United States and Germany.”  Journal of Environmental Psychology, in press, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvp.2019.01.008

A new app makes it easier to function in the world as a color blind person and also for people with color vision to understand how color blind people experience the world. More information about the app is available here: http://colorblindpal.com.

The website for the app reports on its functionality: “Color Blind Pal . . . helps people who are color blind see the colors around them. It also lets people with normal vision see what it's like to be color blind. . . . Use the Color Filter to shift colors that are hard to distinguish toward colors that you can easily distinguish. . . . The Color Filter can also simulate any type of color blindness.”  The app, which is useful for living with/understanding a variety of types of color blindness, can also be used to identify colors present by “Common names, Scientific names, and Colloquial names (like ‘beige’). . . . See the color's hue, saturation, and value, as well as its exact RGB color code.”

Neill and colleagues have confirmed that there are benefits to spending even short amounts of time in nature.  They conducted “Two studies . . . with university students to examine whether the duration of nature contact influences the magnitude of benefits for both hedonic (positive and negative affect [emotions]) and self-transcendent emotions. Study 1 investigated whether 5 minutes of sedentary nature contact influenced both emotion types, and Study 2 examined whether mood improvements are sensitive to the duration of nature contact (5 vs. 15 minutes). Results indicate that brief nature contact reliably improved both hedonic and self-transcendent emotions, and that the duration of contact in the range tested had no impact on this improvement.”

Calum Neill, Janelle Gerard, and Katherine Arbuthnott.  “Nature Contact and Mood Benefits:  Contact Duration and Mood Type.”  Journal of Positive Psychology, in press, https://doi.org/10.1080/17439760.2018.1557242

Gaab, Kossowsky, Ehlert, and Locher found that colors can have a placebo effect.  Via their study, published in Scientific Reports, they determined that “Placebos can . . . have effects when specific psychological effects are attributed to them. . . . The accompanying explanation – the narrative – played a key role when dispensing the placebos, as did the relationship between the researchers and the participants. The researchers used the color green as the placebo in the video experiments, examining it both with and without a psychological narrative (‘green is calming because it activates early conditioned emotional schemata’), as well as in the context of a neutral or a friendly relationship.  After viewing the videos, the participants assessed their subjective condition with questionnaires over several days. The results showed that the placebo had a positive effect on the participants’ well-being when it was prescribed together with a psychological narrative and in the context of a friendly relationship. The observed effect was strongest after administering the placebo but remained evident for up to one week.”

“Even Psychological Placebos Have An Effect.”  2019.  Press release, University of Basel, https://www.unibas.ch/en/News-Events/News/Uni-Research/Even-psychologica...

Research by a Gable-lead team indicates the value of supporting opportunities for mind wandering, for example, via art in workplaces or greenery-enhanced walkways inside or outdoors.  The investigators found that when during “two studies . . . professional writers and physicists reported on their most creative idea of the day. . . . Participants reported that one fifth of their most significant ideas of the day were formed during spontaneous task-independent mind wandering—operationalized here as (a) engaging in an activity other than working and (b) thinking about something unrelated to the generated idea. There were no differences between ratings of the creativity or importance of ideas that occurred during mind wandering and those that occurred on task. However, ideas that occurred during mind wandering were more likely to be associated with overcoming an impasse on a problem and to be experienced as ‘aha’ moments, compared with ideas generated while on task.”

Shelly Gable, Elizabeth Hopper, and Jonathan Schooler.  “When the Muses Strike:  Creative Ideas of Physicists and Writers Routinely Occur During Mind Wandering.”  Psychological Science, in press, https://doi.org/10.1177/0956797618820626

Clobert and colleagues investigated how culture influences the relationship between moods and health—and research consistently shows design-mood links.  The Clobert-lead team reports that “North American (vs. East Asian) cultures tend to value high arousal positive (HAP) states, for example, excited, more than low arousal positive (LAP) states, for example, calm. . . . . Positive affective experience is manifest in internal feelings but also in affective practices, such as taking a bath (a highly valued affective experience in Japan) or a fitness workout (a highly valued affective experience in the United States). . . . we examined how health outcomes are shaped by positive affective feelings and practices varying in arousal. . . . HAP feelings predicted better physical and biological health in the United States but not in Japan. . . . engaging in HAP practices predicted better physical and biological health in the United States whereas engaging in LAP practices predicted better physical health in Japan but not in the United States.”  The researchers collected data via surveys in the United States and in Japan.

Magali Clobert, Tamara Sims, Jiah Yoo, Yuri Miyamoto, Hazel Markus, Mayumi Karasawa, and Cynthia Levine. “Feeling Excited or Taking a Bath: Do Distinct Pathways Underlie the Positive Affect-Health Link in the U.S. and Japan?”  Emotion, in press, http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/emo0000531

Appel-Meulenbroek and colleagues collected information from workers born into different generations to learn more about perceived workplace design-related needs and preferences.  The variations they identified were present at the time that their research was conducted and may or may not persist as members of various generations age.  The investigators defined Baby Boomers as born from 1946 – 1964, members of Generation X as being born from 1965 – 1979, and Millennials as born 1980 – 1998.  Data were obtained from hundreds of Dutch office employees who are members of one of the three generations noted.  The researchers determined that “Millennials indicated the physical workplace aspects accessibility of colleagues and informal work areas/ break-out zones to be significantly more important than generation X did. . . . Millennials perceived the ability to personalise their workstation to be a more important support for a work-life balance than generation X. . . . Companies that specifically want to satisfy their millennials could thus pay special attention to informal work areas and break- out zones, accessibility of colleagues and the ability to personalise a workstation. . . . Based on the analyses and the interpretation of the results, it can be concluded that there are differences between generations regarding their needs and their preferences for physical workplace aspects. However, those differences between generations are rather small.”

H. Appel-Meulenbroek, S. Vosters, A. Kemperman, and T. Arentze.  2019.  “Workplace Needs and Their Support:  Are Millennials Different from Other Generations?”  Twenty-Fifth Annual Pacific Rim Real Estate Society Conference, Melbourne, Australia.

Nardini and colleagues’ findings are consistent with those of previous studies of how taking photographs influences experience: “people almost invariably take pictures during highly enjoyable experiences such as vacations or important family events. Although past research has suggested that taking pictures may enhance the enjoyment of moderately enjoyable experiences, the effect of picture taking on the real‐time enjoyment of highly enjoyable experiences is not clear. . . . A series of laboratory studies demonstrate that taking pictures (compared with not taking pictures) can decrease enjoyment of highly enjoyable experiences. This study suggests that, by constantly striving to document their experiences, consumers may unwittingly fail to enjoy those experiences to the fullest. These results have implications for how firms may best stage experiential offerings to enhance their customers’ experiences.”  The Nardini-lead team’s findings may help designers understand space use research findings, for example.

Gia Nardini, Richard Lutz, and Robyn LeBoeuf.  “How and When Taking Pictures Undermines the Enjoyment of Experiences.”  Psychology and Marketing, in press, https://doi.org/10.1002/mar.21194

How do middle aisles influence shopping behavior?  Page and colleagues set out to  “establish the effectiveness of a supermarket layout with a middle aisle splitting all other aisles, compared to a ‘traditional’ layout (without a middle aisle). . . . The research aims to . . . explore the shopper traffic entering and existing the middle aisle, and interaction with endcap promotions . . . and . . . compare the two stores based on basket size (in items and dollars) and trip duration. . . . all performance metrics are almost identical between the two stores [one with and one without a middle aisle] on the overall level. . . . the presence of a middle aisle does not bring any additional value in terms of making the store easier or quicker to navigate. . . . in most occasions, shoppers pass through the aisle as if there was no break.”

Bill Page, Giang Trinh, and Svetlana Bogomolova.  2019. “Comparing Two Supermarket Layouts: The Effect of a Middle Aisle on Basket Size, Spend, Trip Duration and Endcap Use.”  Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, vol. 47, pp. 49-56, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jretconser.2018.11.001

Grassini and colleagues studied the psychological implications of viewing nature and urban scenes and their findings are consistent with previous research.  The investigators report that “During EEG [electroencephalography] recording, the participants . . . were presented with a series of photos depicting urban or natural scenery. . . . Our data suggest that the visual perception of natural environments calls for less attentional and cognitive processing, compared with urban ones. . . . Subjects rated the images of natural scenery as more relaxing than the urban ones, and the images containing water elements as the most relaxing. . . . In summary, our electrophysiological results suggest that perception of natural environments, even when depicted in static images, is less attentionally and cognitively demanding for the human brain, compared to perception of urban ones.”  

Simone Grassini, Antti Revonsuo, Serena Castellotti, Irene Petrizzo, Viola Benedetti, and Mika Koivisto. “Processing of Natural Scenery Is Associated with Lower Attentional and Cognitive Load Compared with Urban Ones.” Journal of Environmental Psychology, in press, https://doi.org/10.1016/jj.jenvp.2019.01.007

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