Any Designed Environment

What We See (05-24-17)

New research confirms that people from different national cultures vary in how they perceive their physical worlds.  The specific findings of the study discussed here are not as important as the determination that cultural variations exist. A research team lead by Yoshiyuki Ueda of Kyoto University reports that “an ability to perceive differences between similar images depends on the cultural background of the viewer. Scientists have long recognized that the mental processes behind thinking and reasoning differ between people raised in Western and Eastern cultures.

Positive Memories a Plus (05-23-17)

Speer and Delgado report that thinking about happy memories enhances wellbeing when people are stressed.  Their study “explored whether recalling autobiographical memories that have a positive content—that is, remembering the good times—can dampen the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis stress response.”  Study participants were stressed psychologically by the researchers and the scientists then determined that “recalling positive, but not neutral, memories resulted in a dampened cortisol rise and reduced negative affect [mood] . . . .

More on Moving and Wellbeing (05-19-17)

Panza and his team investigated links between levels of physical activity and wellbeing.  They learned that “light-intensity physical activity [was] positively associated with [subjective] psychological well-being . . . and negatively associated with depression . . . moderate intensity negatively associated with pain severity . . . and positively associated with psychological well-being; sedentary behavior negatively associated with psychological well-being and positively associated with depression. . . .

The Right Place (05-17-17)

Kushner’s text challenges readers to thoughtfully consider the role that architecture plays in people’s lives today and how design can support future users.  As Kushner details, “Architecture impacts how you feel every day. . . . We can control this powerful force—we just have to start asking more from our buildings. . . . [the] architectural revolution is already upon us.  The average person is more comfortable having an opinion about architecture today than ever before, mostly due to the dialogue enabled by social media. . .

Rosemary and Working Memory in Children (05-12-17)

Moss and Earle tested the effects of smelling rosemary on working memory in children.  They found that “Exposure to the aroma of rosemary essential oil can significantly enhance working memory in children. . . . A total of 40 children aged 10 to 11 took part in a class based test on different mental tasks. Children were randomly assigned to a room that had either rosemary oil diffused in it for ten minutes or a room with no scent. . . . Analysis revealed that the children in the aroma room received significantly higher scores than the non-scented room.

Six-Foot Sneeze Zones (05-10-17)

Speaking at the 2017 Science to Practice Conference, organized by the Interdisciplinary Center for Healthy Workplaces at Berkeley, John Swartzberg, MD, discussed the spread of disease in workplaces, among other topics.  He reviewed research indicating that sick individuals can spread diseases, such as the flu, to people within 6 feet when they sneeze.  The reported findings have implications for workplace and healthcare waiting room design, for example.

Determining Value (05-08-17)

Job and her colleagues learned more about how people determine how much they think something is worth.  They share that  “Past research finds that people behave as though the particular qualities of specific, strongly valenced individuals ‘rub off’ on objects. People thus value a sweater worn by George Clooney but are disgusted by one worn by Hitler.

Likeability and Posture (05-04-17)

Vacharkulksemsuk and colleagues investigated links between posture and likeability.  Data collected via “two field studies . . . suggested that (i) expansive (vs. contractive) body posture increases one’s romantic desirability; (ii) these results are consistent across gender. . . . Expansiveness makes the dating candidate appear more dominant.”  An example of an expansive posture is leaning backwards, in a reclining chair, for instance.

Being in Nature and Life Satisfaction (05-01-17)

Biedenweg, Scott, and Scott’s research indicates how important it is for everyone to have regular access to nature, whether they live in a city or not.  The team determined after analyzing the responses of thousands of people to survey questions that  “Psychological benefits from time spent in the outdoors, Outdoor recreational activities, Environmentally related social and cultural events, and Sense of place had significant, positive relationships to life satisfaction. . . .


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