Concurrents – Environmental Psychology: ANFA 2021 Report

The Academy of Neuroscience for Architecture met virtually from September 16th to the 18th.

Findings from several studies presented at ANFA 2021 might be applied by workplace designers/managers.

  • Aristizabal and colleagues investigated biophilic in-workplace experiences.  Participants in their study spent time working in assorted environments. The data collection area “allowed individuals to perform their typical workday tasks for 10 weeks [baseline]. After a 2-week acclimation period, participants were exposed to three biophilic conditions (visual, auditory and multisensory) as well as the baseline setting.”  In the visual condition, participants viewed “Indoor plants, projections of greenery, and artwork displaying nature scenes.”  In the auditory condition they heard “Sounds of gentle streams, crickets, and birds native to the Midwest region of the United States” where the data were collected.  In the multisensory project phase, study participants experienced the biophilic sights and sounds noted.  Key study findings: “Participants felt more satisfied with their workplace conditions during the biophilic interventions compared to baseline conditions.  Participants reported feeling more satisfied with the aesthetic appearance and visual privacy in the visual and multisensory conditions.  Similarly, participants reported improvements in perceived productivity in the visual and multisensory conditions. . . . results suggest that immersive biophilic environments can improve aspects of cognitive performance, environmental satisfaction and reduces stress in an office environment.”
  • Mejia-Puig and colleagues probed the implications of retail store crowding; their findings may be useful in other contexts.  The investigators share that in the course of their study “Two retail environments (linear and curvilinear) were designed. . . .These environments were then developed as VR experiences, and their influence on the participants’ PRC [perceived retail crowding] was assessed through psychophysiological tools and self-report questionnaires. . . . The participants’ cognitive responses were recorded through a Functional Near-Infrared Spectroscopy (fNIR) device and a questionnaire.  . . . environments with linear layouts compared to curvilinear layouts, increased PRC . . . which ultimately affected satisfaction levels in participants.”  Prior research by Eroglu, Machleit, and Barr (2005) determined that “PRC negatively affects shopping satisfaction.”
  • Higuera-Trujillo and colleagues studied the experience of being in reality university classroom.  They share that:  “Regarding noise, seven stimuli were developed.  This number corresponds to combining two common sources (traffic noise and internal noise) with the three intensities (low 44 dBA, medium 54 dBA, and high 64dBA). . . . Regarding lighting, nine stimuli were developed.  This number corresponds to combining common colour temperatures (3000K, 6000K and 9000K) with three intensities (100 lx, 300 lx, and 500 lx). . . . After analyzing the significant differences, the following design guidelines were found:  Regarding Attention:  Classroom with high traffic noise can enhance performance with 100lx illuminance.  Regarding Memory:  A classroom with traffic noise can improve performance with 100lx illuminance.   A classroom with low traffic noise can improve performance with lighting color temperature of 9000K.  A classroom with high traffic noise can improve performance with lighting colour temperature of 3000K.”

Sara Aristizabal, Bing Guo, Regina Vaicekonyte, and Carolina Campanella.  2021.  “Nature and Stress Don’t Mix:  Results form a Biophilic Office Design Study.”  Association for Neuroscience for Architecture Conference, Poster presentation, September 17

Jean Higuera-Trujillo, Carmen Llinares, Jose Bravo, and Equardo Macagno.  2021.  “Noise and Lighting in the University Classroom: Multisensory Design Guidelines to Increase Performance in Attention and Memory.”  Association for Neuroscience for Architecture Conference, poster presentation, September 16.

Luis Mejia-Puig, Ekaterina Korneva, and Tilanka Chandrasekera.  2021. “Assessing

Architectural Designs Through Virtual-Reality and Functional Near-Infrared Spectroscopy:  A Perceived Retail Crowding Case Study.”  Association for Neuroscience for Architecture Conference, paper presentation, September 17.

Sally Augustin, PhD, a cognitive scientist, is the editor of Research Design Connections (, a monthly subscription newsletter and free daily blog, where recent and classic research in the social, design, and physical sciences that can inform designers’ work are presented in straightforward language. Readers learn about the latest research findings immediately, before they’re available elsewhere. Sally, who is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association, is also the author of Place Advantage: Applied Psychology for Interior Architecture (Wiley, 2009) and, with Cindy Coleman, The Designer’s Guide to Doing Research: Applying Knowledge to Inform Design (Wiley, 2012). She is a principal at Design With Science ( and can be reached at