Researchers from the University of London have found that we may now be defining journey length not just in terms of miles/kilometers but also in terms of the battery life of our mobile phones. Investigators, lead by Thomas Robinson, found during a study of London commuters that participants “viewed their daily trip in terms of the time and distance between charging points for mobile technology. ‘People no longer think about their destination being 10 km away or 10 stops on the tube. They think about it being 50 per cent of their battery away,’ said the study’s lead author, Dr.
Glasgow and teammates evaluated mood during travel by contacting people periodically during their journeys via their phones. The researchers found that “Mood differed as a function of exposure to various built and natural environments. . . . Positive mood was higher for pedestrians and for bicyclists [than for people engaged in motorized travel]. . . . Interpersonal conversation during trips was associated with more positive mood. . . . Errand trips were associated with more negative mood compared to other trips. . .
Researchers from the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, the University of Sussex, and University College London investigated how scents and sounds influence our perceptions of our bodies. The team found “that olfactory stimuli combined with auditory stimuli can change our perception of our body. . . . People feel thinner and lighter when exposed to the smell of lemon, while feeling heavier and more corpulent when they smell vanilla. . . . Through a device adapted to a pair of shoes . . . .
Omigie and colleagues probed the implications of listening to “beautiful” music; their findings may be applicable to other sensory experiences. Via an online survey and lab-based research, during which physiological data were collected, the investigators assessed how “self-identified beautiful passages (BPs), in self-selected music, may be distinguishable in terms of their affective [emotional] qualities. . . . three BP subtypes that we labeled Low-Tension/Low-Energy (LTLE), Low-Tension/High-Energy (LTHE), and High-Tension/High-Energy (HTHE) BPs [were identified].
Haapakangas and colleagues studied the experience of moving into an activity-based workplace (ABW). Over an extended period, at multiple offices, they evaluated via survey data “the effects of moving into an ABW on satisfaction with communication, on social relations (i.e., social support and social community) and on work demands (i.e., quantitative demands, emotional demands and work pace) 3 months and 12 months after the relocation. . . . Satisfaction with communication and the sense of belonging to a community had decreased 3 and 12 months after the relocation.
Hearing low frequencies has significant effects on life experiences. Scientists report “this exploratory study was designed to investigate the effects of lower frequency sound (10 Hz to 200 Hz) on the perception of the mouthfeel character of palate weight/body. . . . Wines were the tastants — a New Zealand Pinot Noir and a Spanish Garnacha — which were tasted in silence and with a 100 Hz (bass) and a higher 1000 Hz sine wave tone. . . .
How does music heard while dining influence the eating experience? Reinoso-Carvalho and colleagues report that “two contrasting music tracks (positive vs negative emotion) were presented to consumers while tasting beer. . . . Participants liked the beer more, and rated it as tasting sweeter, when listening to music associated with positive emotion. The same beer was rated as more bitter, with higher alcohol content, and as having more body, when the participants listened to music associated with negative emotion.
Lin and teammates investigated multi-sensory experiences involving sound. In a lab, they probed “the effects of environmental sounds (park, food court, fast food restaurant, cafe, and bar sounds) on the perception of chocolate gelato (specifically, sweet, bitter, milky, creamy, cocoa, roasted, and vanilla notes). . . . The results revealed that bitterness, roasted, and cocoa notes were more evident when the bar, fast food, and food court sounds were played. Meanwhile, sweetness was cited more in the early mastication [chewing] period when listening to park and café sounds.”
Visual complexity is frequently studied, and previous research on this topic has been discussed several times in Research Design Connections. A study conducted by Wang and team confirms the benefits of designing in moderate levels of visual complexity. They learned that for web design “Product images with higher background complexity attract greater attention. . . . Higher background complexity distracts more attention away from the focal product. . . . Moderate background complexity can best promote product information processing. . . .
How food is plated influences how it is perceived; this finding may be applicable in settings that don’t involve those tested. Researchers evaluated “how the plating (i.e., visual composition) of a dish influences people's hedonic preferences and their perception of portion size. . . . the centrally-plated dessert was rated as a larger portion than the offset version of exactly the same dish. The food was also liked more and the participants/diners were willing to pay more for it when . . . centrally arranged.