Any Designed Environment

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. . .

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. . . .

Crowding and Travel Routes (08-14-19)

Li and colleagues investigated how crowding at malls influences routes travelled.  They determined that “High crowdedness (evenly distributed between routes) does not impact wayfinding strategies or initial route choices. Navigators tend to avoid crowds by moving close to the boundaries of the environment in high crowdedness. . . . Participants were asked to locate a store inside the virtual building as efficiently as possible. . . .

Bonding to Spaces (08-13-19)

Reese, Oettler, and Katz set out to learn more about how people bond to places.  As they describe, “Place attachment – the cognitive-emotional bond people have to specific places – is associated with various psychological outcomes and behaviors. While it is well-established that both important social as well as physical features determine how strongly people attach to a place, it is largely unexplored how the loss of such features causally affects place attachment. . .

Public Space Soundscapes (08-12-19)

Bild and colleagues studied responses to soundscapes in public spaces.  They determined via data collected in Amsterdam that “solitary and socially interactive respondents [people in the public spaces investigated] evaluate their soundscapes differently. . . . The sounds of people were considered as the main source of both disruption and stimulation for both groups; while conversations and the sounds of others in general were referred to as stimulating, loud conversations and children crying were disrupting.

Designing for Healthier Food Choices (08-09-19)

A Kao-lead team linked what we’re looking at with what we choose to eat; we make healthier choices when looking at nature images than we do otherwise.  The researchers found that “Visual exposure to natural versus urban scenes leads to healthier dietary choices. . . .  Successful weight loss requires individuals to focus on distant health gains while sacrificing immediate culinary pleasures. Time discounting refers to the tendency to discount larger future gains in favor of smaller immediate rewards.

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