Research done by Welsch and teammates, indicates that people are stressed by the interpersonal distances required to combat the spread of the pandemic; calming design options (for example), can partially combat this tension. As the Welsch team reports: “Mandatory rules for social distancing to curb the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic require individuals to maintain a critical interpersonal distance above 1.5 m. However, this contradicts our natural preference, which is closer to 1 m for non-intimate encounters, for example, when asking a stranger for directions. . . .
Hofer, Chen, and Schaller make it clear that humans “communicate” extensively via scents. Peoples’ need to pick up the odors of others supports subtle scentscaping. The Hofer-lead team shares that “People readily perceive and react to the body odors of other people, which creates a wide range of implications for affective, cognitive, and behavioral responses. . . .
Mehahed and Ghoneim discuss lived experiences in homes during the pandemic (which boosted, for example, the desirability of sound-insulated home offices with large windows), the health-related challenges of high-density living, and the need for future, multi-story buildings to support “touchless experience from the front door to the apartment door itself. . . . The building might have wider corridors and doorways, and many more staircases. . . .
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.
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. . . .
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.
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. . . .
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. . .
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 . . .
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.