Mid-October 2017

Sound Management Tool (10-13-17)

The National Research Council of Canada, Construction Division, has released a new edition of their Guide to Calculating Airborne Sound Transmission in Buildings.  A copy is available free at the web address noted below.  The introduction to the Guide reports that “The International Standards Organization (ISO) has published a calculation method, ISO 15712-1 that uses laboratory test data for sub-assemblies such as walls and floors as inputs for a detailed procedure to calculate the expected sound transmission between adjacent rooms. . . . to use it in a North American context one must overcome two obstacles – incompatibility with the ASTM standards . . . and low accuracy of its predictions for lightweight wood or steel frame construction. To bypass limitations of ISO 15712-1, this Guide explains how to merge ASTM and ISO test data in the ISO calculation procedure, and provides recommendations for applying extended measurement and calculation procedures for specific common types of construction. . . . the calculation procedure outlined and illustrated in this Guide is also used by the software web application soundPATHS, which is available for free on the website of the National Research Council Canada.”

Berndt Zeitler, David Quirt, Christoph Hoeller, Jeffrey Mahn, Stefan Schoenwald, and Ivan Sabourin. 2016.  Guide to Calculating Airborne Sound Transmission in Buildings, Research Report (National Research Council Canada, Construction); no. RR-331, http://nparc.cisti-icist.nrc-cnrc.gc.ca/eng/view/fulltext/?id=74d6f3a0-f...

Eating in Crowds (10-12-17)

Feeling crowded affects how many calories we consume.  Hock and Barchi determined via six studies that  “crowding increases calorie consumption.  These effects occur because crowding increases distraction, which hampers cognitive thinking and evokes more affective [emotional mental] processing.  When consumers process information affectively, they consume more calories.”  When people are processing information emotionally, if they're “given a choice between several different options, people select and eat higher-calorie items, but when presented with only one option, people eat more of the same food item.”  It’s important to remember that feeling crowded is subjective; one person may feel crowded in a situation but another individual may not, even though both experience exactly the same conditions.  Research is therefore necessary to determine if particular users are likely to feel crowded in an environment of interest.

Stefan Hock and Rajesh Barchi.  “The Impact of Crowding on Calorie Consumption.”  Journal of Consumer Research, in press.

Too Big to Miss? (10-11-17)

Research by Eckstein and his team indicates that scale influences perception in intriguing ways.  Eckstein, Koehler, Welbourne, and Akbas found that “Humans often miss giant targets [things they’re looking for] during visual search. . . . Missing giant targets is a functional brain strategy to discount distractors. . . . humans often miss targets when their size is inconsistent with the rest of the scene, even when the targets were made larger and more salient and observers fixated the target.”  This study again links expectations to perceptions and its findings should influence the scale of items presented to users.  In the Eckstein study, if test objects were present, they were included at appropriate scale or at 4 times the scale that would be expected and the oversized objects were missed 13% more often than those of usual size.

Miguel Eckstein, Kathryn Koehler, Lauren Welbourne, and Emre Akbas.  2017.  “Humans, But Not Deep Neural Networks, Often Miss Giant Targets in Scenes.”  Current Biology, vol. 27, no. 18, pp. 2827-2832.

Selecting Intense Experiences (10-10-17)

More intense sensory experiences can help restore our self-esteem.  Batra and Ghoshal determined via four studies that “not only do individuals facing self-threat prefer high-intensity sensory consumption (HISC) but also that this consumption restores their self-worth. . . .  The findings are documented in both the visual domain (as evidenced by a preference for more intense and saturated colors) and the auditory domain (as evidenced by a preference for louder audio levels).  The consumption of high-intensity sensory stimuli elevates individuals’ arousal levels, which in turn minimizes rumination [musing] on thoughts related to the threat and thus restores one’s self-worth.  The distractive nature of HISC and its subsequent impact on self-worth restoration is shown to operate regardless of the valence of the sensory consumption [whether it’s positive or negative].”

Rishtee Batra and Tanuka Ghoshal.  “Fill Up Your Senses:  A Theory of Self-Worth Restoration Through High-Intensity Sensory Consumption.”  Journal of Consumer Research, in press.

Physical Valued More (10-09-17)

Items physically present seem more valuable than digital possessions, according to research completed by Atasoy and Morewedge.  The duo found that “in five experiments, people ascribed less value to digital than to physical versions of the same good.  Research participants paid more for, were willing to pay more for, and were more likely to purchase physical goods than equivalent digital goods, including souvenir photographs, books (fiction and nonfiction), and films. . . . Greater capacity for physical than digital goods to garner an association with the self (i.e., psychological ownership), underlies the greater value ascribed to physical goods.”  This finding may help make sense of apparently inconsistent design research data, for example.

Ozgun Atasoy and Carey Morewedge.  “Digital Goods Are Valued Less Than Physical Goods.”  Journal of Consumer Research, in press.

Standing and Thinking (10-06-17)

Rosenbaum and his colleagues evaluated how our mental performance is influenced by whether we are standing or sitting – their findings have added importance as people are being urged to spend more time standing and changing positions.  The team found that people standing have more cognitive control and that their selective attention systems function more effectively than people who are sitting.  Selective attention is our ability to react to stimuli of particular concern to us when we’re experiencing several different stimuli simultaneously.  In more technical terms: “we examined . . . the effect of standing as opposed to sitting on the selectivity of attention. To gauge the selectivity of attention, we used psychology’s classic tool, the Stroop effect: the larger the Stroop effect, the greater the failure of selective attention to the target attribute. . . . The most revealing feature of the data was the decrease in the Stroop effect when participants were standing.”

David Rosenbaum, Yaniv Mama, and Daniel Algom.  “Stand By Your Stroop:  Standing Up Enhances Selective Attention and Cognitive Control.”  Psychological Science, in press.

Nosenography (10-05-17)

Canniford, Riach, and Hill have coined a new term: “nosenography.”  They report that “Nosenography is a theoretical and methodological commitment to uncover the presences and practices of smell, an often-ignored sensory feature of market and consumption spaces. . . . smell is a dynamic and unruly force that. . . . (i) encodes spatial assemblages with meaning and power, (ii) identifies and directly links people with spaces and (iii) punctuates movements and change in these spaces.

Robin Canniford, Kathleen Riach, and Tim Hill.  “Nosenography:  How Smell Constitutes Meaning, Identity and Temporal Experience in Spatial Assemblages.”  Marketing Theory, in press.

Nature and Time (10-04-17)

How does being in nature influence how quickly time seems to pass?  Davydenko and Peetz found that “an experience in nature can feel longer than the same experience in a man-made environment, independent of actual duration. Participants overestimated the duration of a walk if this walk took them through a nature setting but perceived an equally long walk through an urban setting accurately. The nature walk also resulted in a marked improvement in mood and reduction in stress compared to the urban walk.”  The people walking in nature walked along a river and their “walk included trees, a river, chirping birds, buzzing insects, and small animals. . . . The ‘urban walk’ consisted of walking in underground university tunnels that connect campus buildings. . . . Both walks were of equal difficulty. . . . [and] took approximately 10 min to complete.”  Some practical implications of this research: “when there is only little time available (e.g., break time during a work day), spending this time in nature might give the illusion that more time has passed and increase the effectiveness and restorative effects of a break.”

Mariya Davydenko and Johanna Peetz.  2017.  “Time Grows on Trees:  The Effect of Nature Settings on Time Perception.”  Journal of Environmental Psychology, vol. 54, pp. 20-26.

Emotions and Outcomes (10-03-17)

Our emotional state influences our behavior and design can affect our emotional state.  Tamir and Bigman found that “expectations regarding the impact of emotions on behavior can influence the actual impact of emotions on behavior. . . . excited participants were more creative than calm participants when expecting excitement to promote creativity, whereas calm participants were more creative than excited participants when expecting calmness to promote creativity. . . . how emotions shape behavior depends, in part, on how people expect emotions to shape behavior.”  To induce calmness, the researchers had study participants listen to either First Thing (by Fourtet) or Tree Fingers (by Radiohead). Riding Forth the Wave (performed by Catch 22) or Dreamoz (by Jah Hannah) were played to make people feel more excited.

Maya Tamir and Yochanan Bigman. "Expectations Influence How Emotions Shape Behavior.”  Emotion, in press.

Placebo Effect (09-29-17)

Rozenkrantz and colleagues have gathered additional evidence that the placebo effect can be very real.  During their study “Subjects were randomly assigned to a control group who smelled and rated an odorant [scent] . . . and a placebo group who were treated identically but were also told that the odorant increases creativity and reduces inhibitions. . . . Subjects completed a recently developed automated test for creativity, the creative foraging game (CFG), and a randomly chosen subset . . . also completed two manual standardized creativity tests, the alternate uses test (AUT) and the Torrance test (TTCT). . . . The placebo group showed higher originality than the control group both in the CFG . . . and in the AUT . . . but not in the Torrance test.  . . .The findings indicate that placebo can enhance the originality aspect of creativity. This strengthens the view that placebo can be used . . . to enhance positive aspects of cognition.”

Liron Rozenkrantz, Avraham Mayo, Tomer Ilan, Yuval Hart, Lior Noy, and Uri Alon.  2017.  “Placebo Can Enhance Creativity.”  PLoS ONEhttp://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0182466

Support for Time in Nature (09-27-17)

Niedermeier, Einwanger, Hartl, and Kopp studied how people respond to time in nature.  The team investigated the emotional implications “of a three-hour outdoor PA [physical activity] intervention (mountain hiking) compared to a sedentary control situation and to an indoor treadmill condition. . . . healthy participants were randomly exposed to three different conditions: outdoor mountain hiking, indoor treadmill walking, and sedentary control situation (approximately three hours each). . . . Compared to the control situation, the participants showed a significant increase in affective valence [positive mood] . . . activation . . .  elation . . . and calmness . . . and a significant decrease in fatigue . . . and anxiety . . . after mountain hiking. Outdoor mountain hiking showed significantly greater positive effects on affective valence, activation, and fatigue compared to indoor treadmill walking.” These findings are consistent with a great deal of previous research linking some sort of exposure to nature to improved mental state.

Martin Niedermeier, Jurgen Einwanger, Amulf Hartl, and Martin Kopp.  2017.  “Affective Responses in Mountain Hiking – A Randomized Crossover Trial Focusing on Differences Between Indoor and Outdoor Activity.”  PLoS Onehttp://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0177719

Improving Virtual Reality-Based Research (09-25-17)

Increasingly, design is being shared with potential users via virtual reality.  When place design options are presented in this way, distances and object sizes can be incorrectly perceived.  Siegel, Kelly, and Cherep studied this situation and report that “Research over the past 20 years has consistently shown that egocentric distance [the distance from the observer] is underperceived in virtual environments (VEs) compared with real environments. In 2 experiments, judgments of object distance (Experiment 1) and object size (Experiment 2) improved after a brief period of walking through the VE with continuous visual feedback. . . . Furthermore, improvements in judged distance and size transferred to a new VE. Distance judgments, but not size judgments, continued to improve after additional walking interaction in the new VE.”  Having people walk through a virtual reality environment can thus result in them making more accurate assessments of the situations presented.

Z. Siegel, J. Kelly, and L. Cherep.  2017.  “Rescaling of Perceived Space Transfers Across Virtual Environments.”  Journal of Experimental Psychology:  Human Perception and Performance, vol. 43, no. 10, pp. 1805-1814.

Color Names and Color Use (09-21-17)

Gibson and his team studied the how languages communicate color information.  They learned that “Across languages, from the hunter-gatherer Tsimane' people of the Amazon to students in Boston, warm colors are communicated more efficiently than cool colors. This cross-linguistic pattern reflects the color statistics of the world: Objects (what we talk about) are typically warm-colored, and backgrounds are cool-colored. Communicative needs also explain why the number of color terms varies across languages: Cultures vary in how useful color is. Industrialization, which creates objects distinguishable solely based on color, increases color usefulness.”

Edward Gibson, Richard Futrell, Julian Jara-Ettinger, Kyle Mahowald, Leon Bergen, Sivalogeswaran Ratnasingam, Mitchell Gibson, Steven Piantadosi, and Bevil Conway.  “Color Naming Across Languages Reflects Color Use.”  Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, in press.

Television Office Tours (09-20-17)

Digg shares, at the website noted below, floor plans for several fictional television workplaces drawn up by Bizdaq.  These sets influence user expectations for actual workplaces, so a review of these floor plans can be time well spent.

Joey Cosco.  2017.  “Tour the Floor Plans of All Your Favorite TV Offices.”  http://digg.com/2017/tv-business-floor-plans

Failing to Support Walking (09-19-17)

The National Walking and Walkable Communities Report Card has been issued.  It seems that the United States may need some remedial tutoring: “The United States earns failing grades when it comes to the number of people walking to work and school plus the number of walkable communities. . . . The U.S. earned an “F” for children and youth walking behavior, safety, public transportation, institutional policies and pedestrian infrastructure. It earned a “D” for walkable neighborhoods and pedestrian policies. It got a “C” for adult walking behavior. . . .The full report is available at physicalactivityplan.org/projects/walking/Walking-report-card-FINAL.pdf.”

“U.S. Report Card on Walking and Walkable Communities:  Fail.”  2017.  Press release, Washington University in St. Louis, https://source.wustl.edu/2017/09/u-s-gets-failing-grades-walking-walkabl...

Film Sets => Interior Design (09-18-17)

Whitehead ties interior design, generally, to the design of film sets.  As the material at his publisher’s website states: his “book sets out to explore the creation of interior atmosphere as seen through the lens of mise-en-scène. [Readers] learn how this film theory informs the concept of 'staged space' translated through the narrative and expressive qualities of a particular scene. Jean Whitehead . . . takes this concept beyond the screen and considers its application to the interior 'setting'. [Readers learn] to use the ingredients that inform an 'interior' mise-en-scène such as its backdrop, choice of props, use of special effects alongside the application of colour, pattern, graphics, light and shadow, [to develop] an immersive atmospheric experience.”  Case studies, from movies and “real” life, support discussions of “props” and “special effects,” for example.

Jean Whitehead.  2017.  Creating Interior Atmosphere:  Mise-en-Scene and Interior Design.  Bloomsbury Visual Arts, New York.


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