Any Designed Environment

Cultural Variations in Visual Environments (02-14-20)

Kuwabara, Alonso, and Ayala studied perception across cultures.  As they report “Previous studies investigating cultural differences in attention and perception have shown that individuals from Western countries (e.g., the U.S.) perceive more analytically [in a piecemeal fashion, with special attention to focal elements] whereas individuals from East Asian countries (e.g., Japan) perceive more holistically (e.g., Nisbett & Miyamoto, 2005). These differences have been shown in children as young as three years old (Kuwabara & Smith, 2016). . . .

Design and Learning (02-11-20)

Walker, Rett, and Bonawitz link design cues and learning. They studied if an object’s “design can facilitate recognition of abstract causal rules [systems]. In Experiment 1, . . . three-year-olds were presented with evidence consistent with a relational rule (i.e., pairs of same or different blocks activated a machine) using two differently designed machines. In the standard-design condition, blocks were placed on top of the machine; in the relational-design condition, blocks were placed into openings on either side.

Emotion Words (02-10-20)

A large team lead by Jackson determined that languages vary in how they link emotions; their findings may be useful to people conducting research in different parts of the world, for example.  The group studied 24 terms for emotions in thousands of spoken languages, and report that “Many human languages have words for emotions such as ‘anger’ and ‘fear,’ yet it is not clear whether these emotions have similar meanings across languages, or why their meanings might vary.

Companions and Stress Levels (02-06-20)

Qi lead a research team that confirmed that having others nearby can be desirable in many stressful situations.   In areas where people will have stressful experiences, at least some seats, according to the Qi team, should allow people to see others in the same space. Qi and colleagues report that “In our study, participants experienced aversive and neutral sounds alone (alone treatment) or with an unknown person that was physically present without providing active support [there was no social or physical interaction].

Smelling and Learning (02-05-20)

New research confirms that scents we smell as we learn and sleep influence our cognitive performance. Neumann, Oberhauser, and Kornmeier conducted a field study with sixth graders anddetermined that when people smelled the same scent when learning material and later while sleeping (scent was present all night) that they remembered the learned material better after waking up.  The scent used by researchers was of roses.

Alarms With Benefits (02-03-20)

McFarlane and colleagues have investigated, via an online survey, the sorts of sounds that alarms to wake people up can make and the repercussions of awakening to various sounds. Their findings are generally relevant to people working on creating sounds that alert listeners.  The McFarlane-lead team reports that “Sleep inertia is a potentially dangerous reduction in human alertness and occurs 0–4 hours after waking. . . .  The goal of this research is to understand how a particular sound or music chosen to assist waking may counteract sleep inertia. . .

Wayfinding and Personality (01-30-20)

Meneghetti lead a team that tied wayfinding strategies to personality; these findings are especially useful when the personality profile of probable space users is available. The researchers “examine[d] the relationship between people’s self-reported wayfinding inclinations, their preference for certain navigation aids (maps vs. GPS vs. verbal directions), and their personality traits. . . . .

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