Research Design Connections

Take Care with Red (07-15-16)

People with different personality traits—particularly differences related to sensation seeking (described below)—seem to respond in different ways to seeing the color red.  Mehta, Demmers, van Dolen, and Weinberg report that “Previous research has shown that the color red, as compared to other colors, leads to the highest level of compliance and induces conformity not only with instructions and warnings but also with social norms. . . .

Continued Effects of Blue Light (07-14-16)

A research team lead by Alkozei has learned that being in blue light continues to affect how our minds work—experiencing blue light has been linked to higher alertness and quicker decision making—even after we leave a blue lit area.  As a press release issued by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine reports “a short single exposure to blue light for half an hour is sufficient to produce measurable changes in reaction times and more efficient responses (answered more items correctly per second) . . . after the light exposure had ended. . . .

Personality and Things (07-12-16)

It seems that acquiring things can indeed make us happy, as long as the new items align with our personality.  Matz, Gladstone, and Stillwell report that “In a field study using more than 76,000 bank-transaction records, we found that individuals spend more on products that match their personality, and that people whose purchases better match their personality report higher levels of life satisfaction. . . .

More on Activity While Working (07-11-16)

Pilcher and Baker wanted to learn more about the relationship between moving in some way while working and professional performance.  They had people participating in their study work on a desktop while pedaling (at a FitDesk, described below) and also at a traditional sedentary desk.  The researchers found that when study “participants pedaled the stationary bicycle at a slow pace (similar in exertion to a normal walking pace) while working. . . cognitive task performance did not change between the two workstations.

The Right Microbes (07-08-16)

Pecca and Kwan share interesting insights on designing spaces to promote human exposure to the “right” sort of microbes.  As they describe, “The study of how building design, occupancy, and human activity impact indoor microbial communities can lead to the design of healthier buildings, and better enable studies that seek to identify the sources of beneficial and detrimental microbes. . . . Designing our buildings to promote beneficial microbial exposures is not yet feasible.

Locating Creativity (07-07-16)

Weiner identifies locations where, historically and today, creative genius has been particularly prevalent, exploring connections between geography—and other factors—and concentrations of creative people.  For example, he discusses Renaissance Florence and Vienna in 1900.  Weiner’s focus is on urban settings and culture’s important role in spurring creativity.  Some cognitive science research on spaces where people are more likely to think creatively is referenced in the book; regular readers of Research Design Connections will be familiar with the insights that can be drawn from s

Sunlight and Wellbeing, at Home (07-06-16)

Swanson and her team have found that psychological wellbeing levels are higher when people have more sunlight in their homes.  During research conducted in Scotland, the researchers estimated how much natural light could possibly enter a home, factoring in window size and orientation, if anything (such as furniture) was blocking the flow of light into a home and occupant behavior.  They called their estimate “annual sunlight opportunity.”  Calculations identified “a significant positive association between well-being and annual indoor sunlight opportunity but no relationship between sunligh

Floor Signs and Food Choices (07-05-16)

Want people to purchase good-for-them produce?  Draw arrows to those fruits and veggies on a store’s floor.  Payne and his team did research in stores, and what they learned can be applied not only in stores but also at cafeterias and other places where people will select food.  The researchers placed 10 large (6 feet long and 3 feet wide) green arrows on the floor of a grocery store, all in highly visible locations along the outer edge of its interior floor space, pointing toward the produce section of the store.  The arrows had graphics of fruits and vegetables on them and messages such a


Research Conversations


Why do some spaces feel like homes but not others?  Scientists have thoroughly investigated the answer to this question and what they’ve learned should inform the work of designers developing not only homes, but also places such as dormitories, hotels, hospitals, and stores. Yes, stores.



Well-designed gardens are valued additions to residential and commercial areas.  Like emeralds, they can boost moods and in other ways enhance mental and physical wellbeing.  This article shares insights from studies done by people outside the landscape architecture world that should be applied by garden designers.  



For many decades, cognitive scientists have been trying to figure out the fundamental drives that motivate humans to do the things they do.  There’s a lot of general agreement among investigators, although each team seems to relish using its own lingo.  Design that reflects what these researchers have learned makes lives better.


The Environmental Design Research Association (EDRA) met from May 18 to 21 in Raleigh, North Carolina. 

News Briefs


Ideas for designing homes that promote wellbeing


Aligning cultures, values, and desired emotions

Light spaces for happy and sad people differently

Control over technology matters

Green behavior can be linked to culture and development

Campuses build capital, and users know where

Aesthetic judgments and use may not mesh

Nearby areas and map scale affect judgments

Book Reviews


Important background that should guide design development

A timely introduction to designing out danger

Design at Work


The  4th floor reading room at GVSU's Pew Library is a place where people can think great thoughts and get work done.