sensory science

Report on ANFA 2018 (05-21-20)

Marks and Goldhagen circulated, via the Association for Neuroscience for Architecture (ANFA) mailing list, a report on ANFA’s last conference, held in 2018 in San Diego.  They share that Alex Coburn (UC San Francisco School of Medicine) reported that “scaling architecture incrementally with fractally-inspired patterns of leaves and ocean waves corresponds with improved memory and mood. . . .

Eating Chocolate Ice Cream (05-20-20)

Xu and teammates conducted a multisensory analysis of how context influences impressions of chocolate ice cream eaten.  They determined that “When ice cream was consumed in the café, it was associated with . . . a sweet taste/flavour. When consumed in the university study area, it was correlated with . . . cocoa and milky flavours. Consumption at the city bus stop was correlated with . . . roasted and bitter tastes/flavours. The laboratory environment was only correlated with the attributes . . . creamy flavour.

Places for Drinking Cocktails (05-19-20)

Pierguidi and colleagues investigated differences in the environments in which people may prefer to drink cocktails;  their findings are relevant to the design of any spaces where alcohol may be consumed.   The team determined that thematic clusters [of study participants] were identified. . . . Theme 1: RELAX: this cluster focuses on an experience of relaxation, comfort (with the characteristic lemmas: /not too noisy/, /nicely/, /suffuse light/, /intimate/) and on the social dimension (/chatting/).

Child Wellbeing/Health and Outdoor Space Design (05-18-20)

Sando and Sandseter evaluated how the design of outdoor spaces at early childhood education and care (ECEC) institutions influences children’s (3-4 year old’s) wellbeing (feeling at ease and self-confident, for example) and health (via physical activity). They collected data at 8 ECEC institutions ranging from “small urban environments with mainly asphalt and rubber surface to large (13 000 square meters) natural environments.”    The researchers report that “The importance of promoting a wide range of play activities is demonstrated by the finding that many episodes happened within a symbo

Walkability and Personality (05-15-20)

Gotz and colleagues link area walkability and human personality.  The researchers share that they had “hypothesized that walkability would be positively linked to Agreeableness and Extraversion due to increased opportunities for social interactions and selective migration. . . . walkability was positively related to Extraversion . . . but not to Agreeableness. . . . walkable urban environments may be conducive to a more animated and lively social climate which is reflected in heightened extraversion among residents of such areas. . . . walkability robustly predicts individual Extraversion.

Image Preferences (05-14-20)

Redies and colleagues studied the qualities of images to learn which ones are most likely to be present in preferred images.  They determined that “more saturated colors, correlates with positive ratings for valence [which ranged from pleasant to unpleasant]. . . . we obtained evidence from non-linear and linear analyses that affective pictures evoke emotions not only by what they show, but they also differ by how they show.”  

More on Awe (05-13-20)

Perlin and Li confirm that awe is linked to prosocial behavior.  As they report “Awe is an emotional response to stimuli. . . . Curiously, awe has prosocial effects [encourages us to act in ways that benefit other people] despite often being elicited by nonsocial stimuli.”  Awe can be inspired by phenomena that are large/vast, as well as by those that utilize rare materials or exhibit exquisite workmanship, for example.  

Nostalgia and Loneliness (05-12-20)

Loneliness is increasing throughout society and nostalgia can counter the negative effects of feeling lonely;  design decisions can support nostalgia.  Abeyta, Routledge, and Kaslon report that “Loneliness is difficult to overcome, in part because it is associated with negative social cognitions and social motivations. . . . nostalgia, a positive emotional experience that involves reflecting on cherished memories, is a psychological resource that regulates these maladaptive intrapsychic tendencies associated with loneliness. We tested this hypothesis across 4 studies.”

Workplace Multitasking and Mood (05-11-20)

Researchers have determined that at-work email interruptions degrade emotional state; it is reasonable to extend their findings to other disruptions experienced.  Pavlidis, Mark, and Gutierrez-Osuna found that “constant interruptions can actually create sadness and fear and eventually, a tense working environment. . .  ‘Individuals who engaged in multitasking appeared significantly sadder than those who did not. Interestingly, sadness tended to mix with a touch of fear in the multitasking cohort,’ Pavlidis said. . . .

Gardening’s Benefits (05-08-20)

Research by Ambrose and colleagues confirms the psychological benefits of gardening and supports the allocation of space to it.  The investigators studied data collected in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area: “five measures of EWB [emotional wellbeing] were computed for each participant for each activity type [while doing that activity]: average net affect, average happiness, average meaningfulness, the frequency of experiencing peak positive emotions (happiness and meaningfulness).


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