Research conducted by O’Rourke and colleagues indicates how important it is to align the form of a space with the culture of the people who will use it. The O’Rourke lead team report that their “study compared two Indigenous sample populations in Australia to examine the effect of the physical environment in public hospitals and clinics on Indigenous people’s perceptions and experiences of waiting for care. Quantitative survey data . . . measured perceptions of relevant design attributes using paired images in a screen-based survey. Semi-structured interviews . . .
Mavridis and colleagues’ work adds to the research indicating that our culture influences our perception of the world around us. The investigators report that “Human perception differs profoundly between individuals from different cultures. . . . we investigated the development of context-sensitive attention (the relative focus on context elements of a visual scene) in a large sample . . . of 5- to 15-year-olds and young adults from rural and urban Brazil, namely from agricultural villages in the Amazon region and the city of São Paulo. . . .
A complex relationship, explained
Beier and colleagues researched how culture influences responses to music. They report on “measure[ing] chill responses, sudden increases in emotional arousal, through self-report and skin conductance measures. Excerpts of Western classical, traditional Chinese, and Hindustani classical music were presented to 3 groups of participants, each familiar with one of these styles. Participants felt a similar number of chills to both familiar and unfamiliar musical styles, but significantly fewer chills to scrambled music, which acted as a control.
National culture drives outcomes
Kuwabara, Alonso, and Ayala studied perception across cultures.
Researchers have learned more about language-related variations in emotional experiences; since the forms of physical environments influence moods, this work is relevant to designers.
Tham and colleagues investigated associations to particular colors at a cultural level using language groups (adults who only spoke English, who only spoke Chinese, or who were bilingual in English and Chinese).
Mastandrea, Wagoner, and Hogg looked at links between where people live and art preferences.
Where we are on the planet affects both the physical and cultural/social conditions we are experiencing. Latitude, altitude, culture, language, and a range of other place-based factors influence how our minds process the information they receive. We review geography-based, design-related issues uncovered by neuroscientists.