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Weingarten and Goodman’s research provides more nuanced insights into experiential consumption. They report that “A wealth of consumer research has proposed an experiential advantage: consumers yield greater happiness from purchasing experiences compared to material possessions. . . . the authors develop a model of consumer happiness and well-being based on psychological needs (i.e., autonomy, relatedness [need to feel social bonds to other humans], self-esteem, and meaningfulness), and conduct an experiential advantage meta-analysis to test this model. . . .  the meta-analysis supports the experiential advantage . . . The analysis . . . . [suggests] that the experiential advantage may be more tied to relatedness than to happiness and willingness-to-pay. The experiential advantage is reduced for negative experiences, for solitary experiences, for lower socioeconomic status consumers, and when experiences provide a similar level of utilitarian [practical] benefits relative to material goods.”

Evan Weingarten and Joseph Goodman.  “Re-Examining the Experiential Advantage in Consumption:  A Meta-Analysis and Review.”  Journal of Consumer Research, in press,

Barhorst and colleagues evaluated how use of augmented reality (AR) by retailors influences shopping experiences.  They determined that when “a commercially available AR app was utilized to conduct [online research]. . . . [that] AR vividness, AR interactivity, and AR novelty, are all key contributors to the immersive state of flow. . . . The results of this research indicate a more significant state of flow with AR in comparison to a regular shopping experience. . . . a more vivid display of products, in this case through AR, is more likely to influence a consumer’s cognitive processing resulting in the flow experience due to its more interesting appeal. This results in an increased evaluation of the product and its information than what pallid information would involve.. . . AR can be an effective tool with which to induce optimal states of flow and enhance satisfaction with customer experiences in the shopping context.”

Jennifer Barhorst, Graeme McLean, Esta Shah, and Rhonda Mack. 2021.  “Blending the Real World and the Virtual World:  Exploring the Role of Flow in Augmented Reality Experiences.” Journal of Business Research, vol. 122, pp. 423-436,

Research by Weiss and Merlo confirms the value of designing spaces to support particular moods.  The Weiss-Merlo team reports, that “affective [emotional] states influence work performance by impacting the attentional resources dedicated to the task. . . . When people fully engage their attention on the task, performance is optimized. . . .  negative affective states negatively influence concurrent . . . performance through attentional misallocation. . . . positive affective states can enhance attentional focus and . . . performance.”

Howard Weiss and Kelsey Merlo.  “Affect, Attention, and Episodic Performance.”  Current Directions in Psychological Science, in press,

Cupchik’s analysis supports efforts to provide users with moderate visual complexity.  As he reports “Experimental aesthetics was founded in 1867 by Gustav Fechner and reinvigorated by Daniel Berlyne in 1974. . . . Berlyne used enhanced stimulus control and behavioral techniques to support Fechner’s idea that people prefer moderate levels of complexity.”

Gerald Cupchik.  “One Hundred and Fifty Years After Fechner:  A View from the ‘Middle of the Storm.’”  Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, in press,

A research team headed by Hollander studied how we look at neighborhoods/cities.  They conducted a study during which participants “looked at different scenes of New York City public buildings in a set up with an eye tracker in front of a monitor displaying images. Half of the images had design characteristics exemplary of traditional neighborhood design (TND) (like narrow streets, complex facades, and bilateral symmetry). Subjects tended to show greater eye fixation on building fenestration [openings in building envelope] in TND environments, as opposed to the non-TND environments.”

Justin Hollander, Ann Sussman, Alex Levering, and Cara Foster-Karim.  2020.   “Using Eye-Tracking to Understand Human Responses to Traditional Neighborhood Designs.” Planning Practice and Research, vol. 35, no. 5, pp. 485-509,

Research continues to detail the many, nuanced implications of seeing the color red.  Pontes and Hoegg report that “Three studies demonstrate a red-derogation effect for married women’s judgments such that men are perceived to be less attractive and less sexually desirable when their profiles are displayed on a red versus a white background. We show that married (vs. single) women perceive the color red as a threat cue which, in turn, evokes avoidance tendencies. Our studies indicated that married (vs. single) women became more risk averse . . . after exposure to an attractive male presented on a red (vs. white) background. . . . When married women were cognitively depleted [have fewer cognitive resources available], the effect of color was mitigated [reduced]. . . . the findings demonstrate that a subtle peripheral cue (e.g., red color) is sufficient to identify an attractive other as a threat, which activates a defensive strategy.”

Nicolas Pontes and JoAndrea Hoegg.  2020. “The Red-Derogation Effect:  How the Color Red Affects Married Women’s Ratings of Male Attractiveness.”  Journal of Experimental Psychology:  Applied, vol. 26, no. 5, pp. 551-565,

Fosgaard and colleagues investigated how being viewed by others influences our behavior.  They determined that “when behavior is anonymous, uncertainty about which [social] norm guides partners reduces aggregate norm compliance. However, when others can observe behavior, introducing a small degree of norm uncertainty increases aggregate norm compliance. This implies that norm uncertainty may actually facilitate interaction as long as behavior is observable and uncertainty is sufficiently small.”  

Toke Fosgaard, Lars Hansen, and Erik Wengstrom. 2020.  “Norm Compliance in an Uncertain World.”  IFRO Working Paper 2020/04, University of Copenhagen, Department of Food and Resource Economics,

A research team lead by Battal confirms that individuals with atypical sensory capabilities may process stimuli differently.  The investigators studied “auditory-localization abilities in 17 congenitally blind and 17 sighted individuals using a psychophysical minimum-audible-angle task that lacked sensorimotor confounds. Participants were asked to compare the relative position of two sound sources located in central and peripheral, horizontal and vertical, or frontal and rear spaces. We observed unequivocal enhancement of spatial-hearing abilities in congenitally blind people, irrespective of the field of space that was assessed. Our results conclusively demonstrate that visual experience is not a prerequisite for developing optimal spatial-hearing abilities and that, in striking contrast, the lack of vision leads to a general enhancement of auditory-spatial skills."

Ceren Battal, Valeria Occelli, Giorgia Bertonati, Federica Falagiarda, and Olivier Collignon. “General Enhancement of Spatial Hearing in Congenitally Blind People.”  Psychological Science, in press,

The uncanny valley phenomenon has been studied for many years. In a recent study, Wang, Cheong, Dilks, and Rochat report that  “Human replicas highly resembling people tend to elicit eerie sensations—a phenomenon known as the uncanny valley. . . . [the Wang team’s] findings link perceived uncanniness in androids [robots with human type features] to the temporal dynamics of face animacy [how “alive” it seems to be] perception.”  The uncanny valley effect arises when a machine appears nearly lifelike but not exactly the same as a true human. The researchers found that this effect occurs not because people attribute a mind to the android but because humans come to view the “robot” as not having a mind after initial thoughts that it does.

Shensheng Wang, Yuk Cheong, Daniel Dilks, and Philippe Rochat.  “The Uncanny Valley Phenomenon and the Temporal Dynamics of Face Animacy Perception.”  Perception, in press,

The Lighting Research Center at Rensselaer is making available, at the web address noted below, an information-packed video that will be useful both to people designing lightscapes and also to anyone working from home.  At the source website, the LRC shares that it “has released a new video on how to maintain good sleep while working from home, or quarantining indoors, which is becoming more commonplace during the coronavirus pandemic. Good sleep is essential for good health, and may even have a protective effect against coronavirus because a healthy, regular sleep pattern promotes a strong immune system. The video features tips from LRC Director Dr. Mariana Figueiro about how to use the power of light to help you sleep better and feel better every day.”

“New Video:  Sleep Better and Feel Better While Working from Home.” 2020.  Lighting Research Center, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute,


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