Meissner and colleagues studied decision-making in virtual reality environments; their findings can be applied by anyone conducting research in virtual places or developing virtual retail spaces, for example. The research team reports that “With high-immersive virtual reality (VR) systems approaching mass markets, companies are seeking to better understand how consumers behave when shopping in VR.
Whitley, Kalof, and Flach determined that looking at close-up portraits of animals, as opposed to images that show the same sorts of animals in the contexts of their natural environments, has special effects on our responses to those animals. The investigators studied, via an online survey, “how individuals respond to traditional wildlife photography and animal portraiture. Those who were exposed to animal portraits reported increased empathy and decreased positive and relaxed emotions.
Li, Jia, and Wang wanted to better understand how smelling odors we feel are unpleasant influences what goes on in our minds. They report that their “study combined event-related potentials (ERPs) with a facial emotion recognition task to investigate the effect of food odor context on the recognition of facial expressions. . . . unpleasant food odors triggered faster recognition of facial expressions, especially fearful ones.”
Robertson, Cohen and Botch evaluated the size of our color field-of-vision and their findings are published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The researchers report that they “used head-mounted virtual reality displays installed with eye-trackers to immerse participants in a 360-degree real-world environment. The virtual environments included tours of historic sites, a street dance performance, a symphony rehearsal and more, where observers could explore their surroundings simply by turning their heads. . .
Research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences indicates that we do not see the world completely objectively. A group lead by Firestone and Morales reports “that it's almost impossible for people to separate an object's true identity from their own perspective on it. In this case, people looked at round objects that were tilted away from them; even when people were certain that the objects were round, they couldn't help but ‘see’ them in a distorted way, as ovals or ellipses. . . . subjects were shown pairs of three-dimensional coins.
Research completed by Zhou, Wu, Meng, and Kang indicates that the acoustics in hospitals have a significant effect on stress experienced by patients. The researchers share that “Patients in general wards are often exposed to excessive levels of noise and activity, and high levels of noise have been associated with depression and anxiety.
Chen calculated the financial implications of urban nature. He shares that he “systematically searched and reviewed literature on monetary valuation of urban nature’s health effects. . . . Large monetary values were found. These estimates are useful as an argument for urban planners promoting investment in urban green infrastructure.”
Molto and team’s work indicates that multiple factors influence how far away something seems to be. The researchers report that “Previous studies have suggested that action constraints influence visual perception of distance. For example, the greater the effort to cover a distance, the longer people perceive this distance to be. The present . . . meta-analysis . . . supported the existence of a small action-constraint effect on distance estimation. . . . This effect varied slightly according to the action-constraint category (effort, weight, tool use). . .
Researchers at the Lighting Research Center confirm the value of spending time in brightly lit spaces. They share that “The Lighting Research Center (LRC) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is investigating the impacts of working from home or quarantining indoors due to the COVID-19 pandemic on individual daily light exposures, and how this may be affecting sleep quality and psychological health. In May 2020, the LRC invited people who had been staying home due to the pandemic to complete a short survey about their sleep, mood, and daily light exposure. . .
Yoshikawa, Nittono, and Masaki detail the cognitive benefits of looking at cute images. They report that “QE [quiet eye] is a gaze phenomenon, and its duration . . . is thought to represent attention control. . . . several studies have confirmed that viewing cute pictures can induce focal attention, thus improving performance in fine motor tasks. . . . We randomly assigned participants to either the baby-animal pictures group or the adult-animal pictures group, based on pictures viewed prior to the task. . . .