Holt, Zapetis, Babadi, and Tootell chart how COVID has influenced the size of our preferred personal space zones. They report that “during the COVID-19 pandemic, social distancing recommendations led to deliberate expansions of personal space outside of intimate social circles. In the laboratory, personal space preferences are quite stable over repeated measurements. Here, we collected such measurements both before and during the pandemic in the same individuals, using both conventional and virtual reality-based techniques.
Crown investigated how the sensory systems of people on the autism spectrum process information from the physical world. She reports that “Conservatively speaking, over 90% of people with autism process perceptual information in atypical ways (Crane et al., 2009). Any stimulus may be experienced as too intense, too weak, or as simply un-integrate-able.” Two studies conducted by Crown indicate that “challenges autistic individuals face in processing, interpreting, and functioning smoothly in their environments . . . may well relate to their fragmented and irregular perceptual processing.
Chesterman, de Pattista, and Causse evaluated the during-lockdown experiences of people living in France. They found that “Household affordances were found to be a positive factor of lockdown coping and resilience. . . . larger residences are positively related to resilience, and suggests that household affordances such as private areas, space to practice a physical activity, access to outdoors, adequate workspace, and proximity to healthcare services (…), are integral to coping with lockdown and building resilience. . . . .
Recent research indicates just how long we’ve been using things to send nonverbal messages. A press release from the University of Arizona reports that “The necklace, nametag, earrings or uniform you chose to put on this morning might say more than you realize about your social status, job or some other aspect of your identity.
How do names influence perceptions? Zhang, Li, and Ng found that “Size cues are increasingly common in brand names (e.g., Xiaomi and Mini Cooper). . . . This research shows that a brand name size cue can evoke gender associations, which subsequently affect consumers’ perceived warmth and competence of the target brand. . . . brands with a size cue of smallness in the name are perceived to be warmer but less competent, while those with a size cue of bigness are perceived to be less warm but more competent. . .
Sanciangco and colleagues investigated links between urban design and crime. They report that “Residents in US cities are exposed to high levels of stress and violent crime. At the same time, a number of cities have put forward “greening” efforts which may promote nature’s calming effects and reduce stressful stimuli. Previous research has shown that greening may lower aggressive behaviors and violent crime. . . . we examined, for the first time, the longitudinal effects over a 30-year period of average city greenness on homicide rates across 290 major cities in the US. . . .
Recently completed research indicates that there may be good reasons we talk about colors in the ways we do. Investigators lead by Twomey have learned that “cultures across the globe differ in their need to communicate about certain colors. Linking almost all languages, however, is an emphasis on communicating about warm colors—reds and yellows—that are known to draw the human eye and that correspond with the colors of ripe fruits in primate diets. . . .
Gatti and Procentese probe how experiencing a place electronically, via social media, influences “in real life” situations. They report that “data were collected through an online self-report questionnaire, administered to 525 Italian Instagram users. . . .
Spence, Carvalho, and Howes studied sensory experiences categorized as “metallic.” They report that “Many metallic visual stimuli, especially the so-called precious metals, have long had a rich symbolic meaning for humans. Intriguingly, however, while metallic is used to describe sensations associated with pretty much every sensory modality, the descriptor is normally positively valenced in the case of vision. . . .
Shepley, Kolakowski, Ziebarth, and Valenzuela-Mendoza assessed how the COVID-19 pandemic will influence the design health, hospitality, and senior care environments. They share that “An extensive literature review was conducted, the results of which were distributed to a group of experts . . . specializing in health, hospitality and design. After receiving their input, expert focus groups were conducted. . . . Healthcare facilities will require additional space, access to the outdoors, service hubs, and flexibility in garage and use of outdoor space.