sensory science

Virtual Reality, Mood, and Feeling Mentally Refreshed (03-24-17)

Schutte and her team have learned that time spent in virtual reality nature, compared to time spent in virtual reality urban spaces, can lead to better moods.  Also, people who experience virtual reality nature believe that they are more refreshed mentally (in other words, that they are more cognitively restored) after spending time there than the people placed in the virtual urban places.  The researchers immersed users in 360-degree natural or urban interactive virtual environments and learned that “Virtual reality experience of a natural environment compared to virtual reality experience

Thinking About Temperature: Consequences (03-23-17)

Halali and colleagues learned that just thinking about temperature has a serious effect on how our brains work.  After the researchers got people thinking about temperature, by, for example, showing them various landscapes “associated with cool vs. warm temperatures [and asking them to imagine themselves in the location shown] . . . . cool compared to warm temperatures lead to improved performance on . . .

Designing Observed Busyness into US Workplaces (03-22-17)

Bellezza, Paharia, and Keinan found that people link appearing busy with perceived higher status, at least in American workplaces.  Their findings indicate that it may be desirable to eliminate visual shielding around some busy people, in the US, for example, those doing work that doesn’t require them to focus.  The Bellezza team determined that “Americans increasingly perceive busy and overworked people as having high status. . . . the authors conducted a series of studies, drawing participants mostly from Italy and the US.

More Evidence Interruptions Are Undesirable (03-21-17)

Altmann and David Hambrick confirm that mental interruptions can impede performance.  They report that  “As steps of a procedure are performed more quickly, memory for past performance . . . become less accurate, increasing the rate of skipped or repeated steps after an interruption. We found this effect, with practice generally improving speed and accuracy, but impairing accuracy after interruptions. . . .

More on Symmetry (03-17-17)

Research by Westphal-Fitch and Fitch confirms that visual symmetry is valued by humans.  They learned that “symmetrical patterns are not only used most frequently in real life . . .  [they] are rated as significantly more attractive than are random patterns.”

Gesche Westphal-Fitch and Tecumseh Fitch.  “Beauty for the Eye of the Beholder:  Plane Pattern Perception and Production.”  Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, in press.

Liabilities of Empty Space (03-16-17)

It often seems like a good idea to leave empty space around important texts.  New research indicates that white space may not always be a plus. Kwan, Dai, and Wyer found that via seven field and laboratory studies that “The empty space that surrounds a text message can affect the message’s persuasiveness. . . . people find a message less persuasive, and are less likely to act on its implications, when it is surrounded by empty space than when it is not. . . .

Park Walks, Relaxation Exercises, and Office Worker Tension (03-15-17)

Research collected from Finnish knowledge workers indicates that both taking a walk in nature at lunchtime and doing relaxation exercises over lunch have about the same effect on how tense employees feel after lunch.  Building spaces that support relaxation exercises, and teaching those exercises to employees, could be a viable alternative to developing nature-based experiences in many locations.

Environmental Control: Repercussions (03-14-17)

Shahzad and her team studied some of the implications of user control over temperature in their work areas.  The investigators “compared a workplace, which was designed entirely based on individual control over the thermal environment, to an environment that limited thermal control was provided as a secondary option for fine-tuning: Norwegian cellular and British open plan offices. The Norwegian approach provided each user with control over a window, door, blinds, heating and cooling as the main thermal control system.

Neighborhood Design, Physical Activity, and Wellbeing (03-13-17)

Zuniga-Teran and her team have extensively investigated how neighborhood design influences physical activity and wellbeing.  They studied “four types of neighborhood designs: traditional development [these include homes and accessible commercial spaces], suburban development, enclosed [gated] community, and cluster housing development [which generally preserve natural/green spaces and include townhouse-type homes], and assess their level of walkability and their effects on physical activity and wellbeing. . . . traditional development showed . . .

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