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Kiilavuori and teammates broadened previous research on making eye contact from situations involving humans only to those including both humans and robots.  They report that “Eye contact with the robot evoked similar responses as eye contact with the human. . . . Previous research has shown that eye contact, in human-human interaction, elicits increased affective [emotional] and attention related psychophysiological responses. In the present study, we investigated whether eye contact with a humanoid robot would elicit these responses. Participants were facing a humanoid robot (NAO) or a human partner, both physically present and looking at or away from the participant. The results showed that both in human-robot and human-human condition, eye contact versus averted gaze elicited greater skin conductance responses indexing autonomic arousal, greater facial zygomatic muscle responses (and smaller corrugator responses) associated with positive affect [mood], and greater heart deceleration responses indexing attention allocation. . . . eye contact elicits automatic affective [emotional] and attentional reactions both when shared with a humanoid robot and with another human.”  So making eye contact with a robot has the same effects on people as making eye contact with another human.

Helena Kiilavuori, Veikko Sariol, Mikko Peltola, and Jari Hietanen.  “Making Eye Contact with a Robot:  Psychophysiological Responses to Eye Contact with a Human and with a Humanoid Robot.” Biological Psychology, in press,

Researchers have linked how people experience happiness to geography.   This finding is useful to designers doing design-related research or anyone trying to understand responses to design generally.  Gardiner, Funder, Lee, and Baranski found via data collected from 63 countries and people speaking 42 languages that “The meaning of happiness varies depending where in the world a person lives. . . . Happiness studies historically have focused on the Western ideal of happiness, which is relatively self-centered and big on thrills. . . . But Western-centered happiness concepts aren’t universal, the authors hold. While happiness is tied to independence in the West, Eastern happiness is related to interdependence.”  The Gardiner-lead study was published in PLoS One.  

J. D. Warren. 2020.  “How You Measure Happiness Depends Where You Live.”  Press release, University of California, Riverside,

Research confirms links between what’s seen and tastes experienced.  Ueda, Spence, and Okajima, using augmented reality visors, collected view-taste data and report that “What we taste is affected by what we see, and that includes the colour, opacity, and shape of the food we consume. . . . We developed a novel AR [augmented reality] system capable of modifying the luminance distribution of foods [the light coming off/bouncing off food] in real-time using dynamic image processing for simulating actual eating situations. Importantly, this form of dynamic image manipulation does not change the colour on the food (which has been studied extensively previously). . . .  Participants looked at a piece of Baumkuchen [a German cake] . . . or a spoonful of tomato ketchup . . . having different luminance distributions and evaluated the taste on sampling the food. Manipulating the SD [standard deviation/variation] of the luminance distribution affected not only the expected taste/flavour of the food (e.g. expected moistness, wateriness and deliciousness), but also the actual taste properties on sampling the food.” When SD of luminance is smaller, a slice of cake, etc., has a smoother appearance and when the SD is larger the same item gives the impression of being rougher.

Junya Ueda, Charles Spence, and Katsunori Okajima.  2020. “Effects of Varying the Standard Deviation of the Luminance on the Appearance of Food, Flavour Expectations, and Taste/Flavour Perception.”  Scientific Reports, vol. 10, 16175,

Planners of all sorts, urban, workplace and otherwise, often discuss creating modern spaces using traditional forms.  Recent research indicates that multiple long ago villages in the Amazon region were round. Iriarte and colleagues report that “Recent research has shown that the entire southern rim of Amazonia was inhabited by earth-building societies involving landscape engineering, landscape domestication and likely low-density urbanism during the Late Holocene. . . . newly discovered Mound Villages (AD ~1000–1650) in the SE portion of Acre State, Brazil. . . . Our novel results documented distinctive architectural features of Circular Mound Villages such as the presence of ranked, paired, cardinally oriented, sunken roads interconnecting villages, the occurrence of a diversity of mound shapes within sites, as well as the exposure the superimposition of villages.”

Jose Iriarte, Mark Robinson, Jonas de Souza, Antonia Damasceno, Franciele da Silva, Francisco Nakahara, Alceu Ranzi, and Luiz Aragao.  2020.  “Geometry by Design:  Contribution of Lidar to the Understanding of Settlement Patterns of the Mound Villages in SW Amazonia.”  Journal of Computer Applications in Archaeology, vol. 3, no. 1, pp. 151-169.

Researchers have determined that children as young as 3 respond positively to seeing fractal patterns, just as adults do.  Robles, Taylor, Sereno, Liaw, and Baldwin found that “Before their third birthdays, children already have an adult-like preference for visual fractal patterns commonly seen in nature. . . . We found that people [both adults and children] prefer the most common natural pattern, the statistical fractal patterns of low-moderate complexity . . . ’ Robles said. . . .  The aesthetic experience of viewing nature’s fractals holds huge potential benefits, ranging from stress-reduction to refreshing mental fatigue, said co-author Richard Taylor. . . . . [Taylor also states:] ‘This study shows that incorporating fractals into urban environments can begin providing benefits from a very early age.’. . . .[Taylor] and co-author Margaret Sereno . . . also have published on the positive aesthetic benefits of installing fractal solar panels and window blinds.”  The study by Robles team is published by Nature:  Humanities and Social Sciences Communication.

“Study Finds That by Age 3 Kids Prefer Nature’s Fractal Patterns.”  2020.  Press release, University of Oregon,

Corley and colleagues found relationships between spending time during the COVID pandemic  in home gardens and the wellbeing of older people (mean age of 84) living in Scotland. The researchers learned via an online survey in May/June 2020 that “Spending more time in a home garden associated with greater subjective wellbeing.  . . .Neither gardening nor relaxing in the garden were associated with health outcomes. However, higher frequency of garden usage during lockdown was associated with better self-rated physical health . . . emotional and mental health . . . sleep quality . . . and a composite health score. . . . None of the garden measures were associated with perceived change in physical health, mental and emotional health, or sleep quality, from pre-lockdown levels. The results of the current study provide support for positive health benefits of spending time in a garden—though associations may be bidirectional—and suggest that domestic gardens could be a potential health resource during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Janie Corley, Judith Okeley, Adele Taylor, Danielle Page, Miles Welstead, Barbora Skarabela, Paul Redmond, Simon Cox, and Tom Russ.  “Home Garden Use During COVID-19:  Associations with Physical and Mental Wellbeing in Older Adults.”  Journal of Environmental Psychology, in press,

Zhang, Gong, and Jiang evaluated how feeling nostalgic influences recycling behavior; research has repeatedly shown that design can encourage people to feel nostalgic.  The Zhang-lead team reports that “We suggest that nostalgia induces a sense of meaning, which in turn encourages customers to recycle more. . . . Study 1 (in a cafeteria) and Study 2 (in a lab) showed that nostalgia elicited by nostalgic music increased recycling behavior, while Study 3 found that nostalgia induced by nostalgic product designs improved recycling intentions. Finally, Study 4 indicated that nostalgia triggered by nostalgic memories augmented recycling intentions, and uncovered the underlying mechanism, a sense of meaning.”

Xiadan Zhang, Xiushuang Gong, and Jing Jiang.  “Dump or Recycle?  Nostalgia and Consumer Recycling Behavior.”  Journal of Business Research, in press,

Palomo-Velez and teammates assessed interpersonal implications of environmentally responsible behavior.  They determined that “sustainable consumption may communicate traits that are valued in romantic partners.  Sustainable consumers are perceived as attractive for both short and long-term romantic relationships. . . . [results] suggest that people presented as having purchased green products are perceived as more generous and more attractive as long-term – but also short-term – romantic partners. . . .  individuals primed to think about a romantic context are no more likely to prefer sustainable products, suggesting an actor-observer discrepancy that potentially adds to the honesty of the conspicuous conservation signal.”

Gonzalo Palomo-Velez, Joshua Tybur, and Mark van Vugt.  “Is Green the New Sexy?  Romantic [sic] of Conspicuous Conservation.”  Journal of Environmental Psychology, in press,

Wang and colleagues investigated responses to environmental advertisements, but their findings are applicable, outside the specific situation in which data were collected. The researchers report that their study indicates “a difference in beauty-related experience between warning- and vision-based advertisements, with higher scores in the ‘interesting’ dimensions and lower scores in the ‘boring’ ones, accompanied by the more intense ‘awesome,’ ‘inspiring,’ and ‘surprising’ experiences for warning-based than for vision-based advertisements. . . . If the natural environment of one place/region is adequate, it would seem more suitable to choose a vision-based appeal; otherwise, it would seem more appropriate to choose a warning-based appeal. . . . [analyses indicated] more negative emotional or aesthetic experiences for warning-based advertisements. More positive experiences were elicited by vision-based advertisements.” Information was provided about the types of advertisements viewed: “Warning-based advertisement aims to warn persons to focus on environmental issues and to persuade them to protect or beautify the environment by presenting negative or threatening environmental information or realities. . . . vision-based creative advertisements attempt to persuade individuals to protect the environment by presenting a beautiful ecological landscape or natural environment.”

Shen Wang, Meililao Yuan, Yuan Bai, and Meifena Hua. “Beauty is Not in the Eye But in the Inner Head: Evidence from Environmental Advertising.”  Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, in press,

Hughes and research partners developed the shared features principle. They provide details about the principle, which  “refers to the idea that when 2 stimuli share 1 feature, people often assume that they share other features as well. . . .  Our results indicate that behavioral intentions, automatic evaluations, and self-reported ratings of a target object were influenced by the source object with which the target shared a feature. This was even the case when participants were told that there was no relation between source and target objects. Taken together, the shared features principle appears to be general, reliable, and replicable across a range of measures in the attitude domain.”

Sean Hughes, Jan De Houwer, Simone Mattavelli, and Ian Hussey. 2020.  “The Shared Features Principle:  If Two Objects Share a Feature, People Assume Those Objects Also Share Other Features.”  Journal of Experimental Psychology:  General, vol. 149, no. 12, pp. 2264-2288,


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