sensory science

Sounds and Experiences (09-03-19)

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.”

Background Complexity: Implications (08-30-19)

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. . . .

Plating and Taste (08-29-19)

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.

Associations to Shapes (08-28-19)

Associations identified between shapes and tastes can realistically be extended to other contexts.  Investigators report that “We replicated the results of previous studies showing that round shapes are associated with sweet taste, whereas angular shapes are associated with sour and bitter tastes. . . . These results were consistent across cultures, when we compared participants from Taiwanese and Western (UK, US, Canada) cultures. Our findings highlight that perceived pleasantness and threat are culturally common factors involved in at least some crossmodal correspondences.”

Careful! (08-27-19)

Casner shares important insights into the occasionally baffling ways that humans’ fallible minds interact with the world that surrounds them.  His neuroscience-based focus is on situations during which humans injure themselves, and sometimes others, primarily via everyday behaviors of some sort gone wrong.  The material in this very readable text can be applied by people developing environments at varying scales, from places/objects to be used by one person to those utilized by groups.  Suggestions for improvement shared by Casner are useful to designers with a wide range of skills and expe

Virtual Reality/Real World (08-26-19)

Research by Naz and colleagues confirms that our experiences in real and comparable virtual worlds are fundamentally equivalent.  They report that “The emotional response a person has to a living space is predominantly affected by light, color and texture as space-making elements. . . . we conducted a user study in a six-sided projected immersive display that utilized equivalent design attributes of brightness, color and texture in order to assess to which extent the emotional response in a simulated environment is affected by the same parameters affecting real environments. . .

Greenery and Mental Wellbeing (08-21-19)

Nearby greenery has again been linked to mental wellbeing.  Houlden and colleagues report that their “study was designed to examine whether the amount of greenspace within a radius of individuals’ homes was associated with mental wellbeing, testing the government guideline that greenspace should be available within 300m[eters] of homes. . . . [statistical analyses] revealed positive and statistically significant associations between the amount of greenspace and indicators of life satisfaction and worth. . .

Evaluating Your Home (08-20-19)

Features of neighboring homes influence what we think about our own house.  Kuhlmann investigated “whether the size of one’s home relative to others in their [resident’s] neighbourhood influences their housing satisfaction. . . . [and found] evidence that relative position matters. Those living in comparatively small houses are more likely to express dissatisfaction with their home than people living in units that are large relative to other houses in their neighbourhood cluster.”

Feeling Safe: Effects (08-19-19)

Schmidt and colleagues wanted to learn more about how nonverbal messages influence how people think and behave.  They “recorded participants' EEG brain responses while they played a risk game developed in our laboratory. . . . we predicted that cognitive control would be reduced in the helmet group [that is, people playing the game while wearing a bicycle helmet although they were not near a bicycle], indicated by reduced frontal midline theta power, and that this group would prefer riskier options in the risk game. . . .

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