Smith explores how humans experience time. He reports that “the passage of time is not directly perceived. . . . This conclusion is supported by the following observations: 1) down through the millennia, there have been recurrent ergonomic efforts to design technological proxies—from the pyramids to the atomic clock—for detecting the passage of time; and 2) these efforts point to our reliance on technology, rather than our own sensory feedback control capabilities, to track time.
Pappas reviews a wide range of research related to road traffic safety. Design related information presented includes “Visually cluttered roads, confusing signage, and broad thoroughfares that practically beg drivers to stomp on the accelerator can encourage behaviors that raise risk. . . . Design choices like medians, trees, and cycle lanes can obstruct drivers’ views of the horizon and move their focus close to the front of their cars, encouraging more cautious driving.”
Liu and colleagues probed how physical effort relates to assessments of natural beauty; their findings linking effort and judgments made are likely applicable more broadly than the tested condition. They report that “participants wearing a heavy backpack gave higher esthetic scores to and generate a strong attentional bias toward the green natural landscapes. Furthermore, the implicit association test (IAT) revealed that a green natural landscape was more readily associated with a high level of relaxation when the participants wore a backpack.
Flouri and teammates set out to learn how physical environments influence decisions made by children. They report that “This study used the UK’s Millennium Cohort Study to investigate the role of greenness of the child’s immediate residential area at ages 9 months and 3, 5, 7, and 11 years in reward and punishment sensitivity, measured using the Cambridge Gambling Task (CGT), at age 11 years. Our sample was the children who lived in urban areas at all five time-points and with data on the CGT at the fifth. . . .
Steelcase conducted a pediatric healthcare-related literature review and developed design principles that can be used in a variety of spaces, from waiting areas to exam rooms. Via the literature review, Steelcase determined that in pediatric healthcare settings “engaging young patients in their surrounding environment can help minimize anxiety and promote a sense of calm. Exploration provides choices, and choices provide a sense of control. . . . Children need movement and sensory experiences to reduce stress. . . .
Radun and colleagues investigated the effects of impulsive sound on cognitive performance. They report that “Exposure to impulsive sound (65 dB LAeq) was compared with quiet sound (35 dB LAeq) and steady-state sound (65 dB LAeq). . . . Compared to quiet sound, impulsive sound caused more annoyance, workload, and lack of energy, raised cortisol concentrations, reduced systolic blood pressure, and decreased accuracy. . . . Compared with steady-state sound, impulsive sound was experienced as more annoying and causing a higher workload and more lack of energy.
Jia and colleagues studied factors influencing whether people feel crowded. They report that their work indicates “that walking velocity depicts pedestrian perceived congestion more accurately than density. . . . the larger the gap between the desired and actual velocities, the larger the extent of the perceived congestion.”
The Center for Health Design is providing free, at the web address noted below, an interactive rendering highlighting key research that can be applied during the design of treatment rooms in emergency departments. As noted on the website on which the diagram appears, “Two goals are often at the center of current care models for mental or behavioral health: safety and healing. In the Emergency Department, design has traditionally focused on safety for both patients and staff through checklists for ligature-resistance.
Sorokowska and colleagues investigated how personal space preferences influenced COVID-19’s spread; interpersonal spacing is a core environmental psychology research area. The Sorokowska-lead team report that “it was explored if interpersonal distance preferences . . . were valid measures of physical distancing in contacts between strangers and whether they related to country-level variation in early dynamics of SARS-CoV-2 spread.
Researchers from the University of Exeter have identified some benefits of playing outdoors and their findings can be used to encourage the development and maintenance of outdoor play areas for children. The investigators report, in a study published in Child Psychiatry and Human Development, that “children who spend more time playing outside had fewer ‘internalising problems’ – characterised as anxiety and depression. Those children were also more positive during the first lockdown. . . .