Research Design Connections

Designing for Waiting (06-23-16)

Ossmann reports on a comprehensive study of waiting area experiences.  She shares that “To explore the link between more supportive waiting room design and an improved patient experience, researchers partnered with a major academic medical center in the southeastern United States.”  The investigators found that in the waiting spaces where observations were conducted “one-third of the seating was situated facing windows, which in the study setting negated a view to the desk or doors.

Street Lighting Guidance from the AMA (06-22-16)

The American Medical Association (AMA) assessed street lighting in the United States and reports that  “High-intensity LED [light emitting diodes] lighting designs emit a large amount of blue light that appears white to the naked eye and create worse nighttime glare than conventional lighting. . . . blue-rich LED streetlights operate at a wavelength that most adversely suppresses melatonin [which helps regulate sleep] during night.

Emotion and Memory (06-21-16)

Design can influence mood and mood influences what people remember.  Spachtholz and his team found “positive affect [mood] tuning memory formation toward richness and negative affect tuning memory formation toward strength.”  So, memories formed when people are in a good mood are richer, having, for example, more remembered details, while memories formed when people are in negative moods are stronger.

Value of Taking Notes (06-20-16)

Researchers, take note:  Writing down notes does indeed help us remember information, even when notes taken are not later reviewed.  As Thorley reports “Mock jurors first watched a trial video. Three-quarters were permitted to take notes whilst watching it. One-third of these mock jurors then reviewed their notes, one-third mentally reviewed the trial only, and one-third completed a filler task to prevent any form of reviewing. The remainder took no notes during the trial and also completed a filler task afterwards. All then had their memory of the trial assessed via free recall.

Designing for Human Contact (06-17-16)

Designing opportunities to interact with humans into service centers is a good idea.  In a study of tourist offices, Arana and colleagues found that “the human factor is . . . key in providing satisfaction to visitors. . . . visitors place higher values on information services received through personal interaction than through automated processes based on new technology.”

Jorge Arana, Carmelo Leon, Maria Carballo, and Sergio Gil.  2016.  “Designing Tourist Information Offices:  The Role of the Human Factor.” Journal of Travel Research, vol. 55, no. 6, pp. 764-773.

Stressful Offices: Ramifications (06-16-26)

Grzywacz’s research confirms the negative repercussions of stressors in workplaces.  He found that cognitive function and memory are degraded in offices with more physical hazards.  Environmental hazards/stressors were broadly defined and studied using two sets of measures: “The first set of items assessed the frequency of exposure to hazardous conditions, the likelihood of injury as well as the degree of injury resulting from the exposure, if an injury occurred. . . . The second set of items assessed exposure to environmental conditions.

Neighborhood Size and Resident Satisfaction (06-15-16)

The perceived size of a neighborhood influences resident satisfaction.  Barnardo and Palma-Oliveira found that “smaller neighborhoods reported higher identification and satisfaction with the place of residence.”

Fatima Bernardo and Jose-Manuel Palma-Oliveira.  2016.  “Identification with the Neighborhood:  Discrimination and Neighborhood Size.”  Self and Identity, vol. 15, no. 5, pp. 579-598.

Evaluating and Using Art (06-14-16)

Research by Lauring and his team confirms that multiple factors influence evaluations of art and that art has a special, social role.  They found that when participants in their study “were primed [i.e., led to think] that a certain social group (fellow students, art museum curators/art experts, or low-education/income youth) had rated the painting positively or negatively (social prime, . . .) or with a fictitious sales price of the artwork (monetary prime) . . . . Paintings with high monetary primes or with high ratings by peers and art experts led to higher participant liking ratings.


Research Conversations


Applying design-related research done by social and cognitive scientists makes it much more likely that both academic environments and the people in them perform to their full potential, now and in the future.


Simonton has developed an important way to categorize human responses to situations—physical, social, cultural, and otherwise.  His work can be used to anticipate how people will respond to situations, to understand how spaces can be designed to support particular responses after they occur, and to determine how to make desired outcomes more likely. 


Human survival depends on water.  So water, inside and outdoors, has a significant effect on human thoughts and behaviors.  


Control and luxury are linked.

News Briefs

Aligning space design and religious beliefs can enhance health and wellbeing

Not all of us may find the same sorts of places restorative

Surface and light color influence opinions of retail spaces

Looking up is linked to freezing up

Consumer response to products and services is tied to leader stigma and venue quality

Preference for more or less orderly design can be tied to perceptions of control

Scents can help sell cities

Buildings influence nearby atmospheric conditions

Book Reviews


The design profession has waited a long time for this important book

The contents of this book can elevate the design of transit streets

Design at Work



MIT’s Stata Center inspires awe, but its heavy reliance on rectilinear elements means it does not do all that it might to sustain the wellbeing of its academic users.