Research Design Connections

More on Walking (10-21-16)

Koschinsky and her team wanted to better understand what motivates people to lace on their sneakers and go for a walk.  Their work focused on data collected with two different instruments, “Walk Score” and the “State of Place Index”: “Walk Score is used to measure walkable access while the State of Place Index is applied to synthesize the qualitative urban form dimensions” that have been linked to walking among people in an area.  These include trees, crosswalks, and benches being present, for example.  Using data from 115 walkable neighborhoods in Washington DC’s metropolitan area the team

Mood and Walking (10-20-16)

Miller and Krizan studied the emotional consequences of the walking that we do as we live our daily lives.  They learned that  “walking incidental to routine activity (heretofore referred to as "incidental ambulation")-not specifically "exercise"-is a robust facilitator [enabler] of positive affect [mood]. . . . ambulation [walking] facilitates positive affect even when participants are blind to” its ability to do so.

Social Class and Attention to Others (10-19-16)

Dietze and Knowles investigated how attention to others varies by social class.  Their findings can inform design decisions and also help explain puzzling design research outcomes, as well as discrepancies between executive and lower level employee perceptions of distractions in workspaces, for example.  Dietze and Knowles learned that “people’s [perception of their own] social class affects their appraisals of others’ motivational relevance—the degree to which others are seen as potentially rewarding, threatening, or otherwise worth attending to. . . .

Music Supports Exercise (10-18-16)

Now there are even more reasons to make sure people exercising can listen to music.  Stork and Ginis “investigated the impact of listening to music during exercise on perceived enjoyment, attitudes and intentions towards sprint interval training (SIT). Twenty men . . . and women . . . unfamiliar with SIT exercise completed two acute sessions of SIT, one with and one without music. . . . Attitudes towards SIT were significantly more positive following the music than no music condition. . . .

Healthy Building Tool (10-17-16)

A new tool supports the development of design solutions that are good for both people and the planet. Portico is “an online tool used for the selection and specification of healthy products and materials for the built environment. The web service integrates healthy materials evaluation and project management-related functionalities with an extensive product database. Owned by Healthy Building Network, Portico was created in partnership with Google Real Estate and Workplace Services (REWS) team.

Walking and Urban Design (10-14-16)

A study lead by Rioux in France provides additional insights into how urban design can influence walking.  The researchers compared “walking patterns in two neighborhoods with different numbers of parks; parks did not differ in rated attractiveness nor did neighborhoods differ substantially in rated walkability.”  Data were collected from people 32 to 86 years old.  When these individuals “drew their 3 most recent walking routes on maps of their neighborhood.

Gait and Experience (10-13-16)

Research by Dobricki and Pauli confirms that the experience of walking through a space, literally, affects emotional response to it.  As the team details “we asked healthy humans to explore a life-sized Virtual Reality simulation of a forest glade by physically walking around in this environment on two narrow rectangular platforms connected by a plank.”  Some participants felt that they were walking on a rigid surface, but for others the ground underfoot seemed “bouncy.” When the virtual environment projections gave the impression that people in the study were high off the ground and walkin

Cities Similar, Now and Then (10-12-16)

An article published in PLoS ONE indicates that medieval and modern cities are more similar than you might think.  Cesaretti, Lobo, Bettencourt, Ortman, and Smith have found that “a new look at medieval cities’ population sizes and distributions suggest that some urban characteristics have remained remarkably consistent. . . .in both medieval and modern European cities, larger settlements have predictably higher population densities than smaller cities. . . .

Nature Images and Aggression (10-11-16)

Poon and his teammates have determined that nature images can be used to combat aggression; their findings can be applied in a range of spaces where aggressive activities might be anticipated.  As they report “Prior studies have consistently shown that ostracism promotes aggression. The present research investigated the role of nature in reducing aggressive responses following ostracism. Three studies provided . . . support to the prediction that nature exposure can weaken the relationship between ostracism and aggression.


Research Conversations


There are many, many ways that design can reduce stress; encourage healthy eating, sleeping, and activity levels; and, in general, help humans live with fit minds and bodies.


Communicating with each other and spending time together defines us as a sociable species, distinct from the myriad others that surround us.  Design can make it more likely that we socialize in ways that increase our mental and physical wellbeing.


Cognitive scientists have learned a lot about how design can support spiritual experiences.  

A recent issue of The Scientist reviewed research, recent and classic, on the senses besides the basic 5 (vision, hearing, touch, smell, and taste) that humans use to collect information about what’s going on in their world. 

News Briefs


Green walls affect performance


Not all views produce the same effects

Parliament chambers say a lot about how countries are governed

Assessments of visual and acoustic elements are intertwined

A new way to measure noise

Being watched and monitored changes actions

Seeing eyes alters thoughts and behaviors

Reactions to images depend on what we're told about them

Book Reviews

A cross-disciplinary analysis that will encourage new ways of thinking, designing, and eating

Design at Work


The ethereal transparent cube that forms the ground floor lobby at 200 West Madison in Chicago is a positive introduction to the structure for visitors, is a great space for people waiting for appointments in the building to spend time, and enhances positive experiences for people who work in the building.