Research Design Connections

East: West Creativity (02-06-17)

Liou and Lan investigated “cultural differences in creative behaviors.”  They report that “Western norms prioritize originality and Eastern norms usefulness. . . . Compared with Taiwanese, Americans generated more original ideas when they worked in a group or when the task required them to select ideas for further elaboration. . . . In contrast, compared with Americans, Taiwanese generated more useful ideas when they worked in a group or when the task required them to select ideas for further elaboration. . . .

Public Response to Standing/Activity Research (02-03-17)

A team of British researchers, Gardner, Smith, and Mansfield, studied the general public’s response to research encouraging people to spend less time sitting at work.  Their findings indicate how important it is to effectively communicate with users when environments/objects are, or may be, changed.  The Gardner team report that “In June 2015, an expert consensus guidance statement was published recommending that office workers accumulate 2–4 h of standing and light activity daily and take regular breaks from prolonged sitting.

Customization Effects (02-02-17)

Kaiser, Schreier, and Janiszewski link product customization and enhanced performance.  Their research “demonstrates that the self-expressive customization [this would be a modification that reflects the user’s beliefs, ideas about who they are as a person, membership in a group, etc.] of a product can improve performance on tasks performed using the customized product. Five studies show that the effect is robust across different types of tasks (e.g., persistence tasks, concentration tasks, agility tasks).

Benefits of Signaling Greenness (02-01-17)

Wang, Krishna, and McFerran studied how consumers’ environmentally responsible behavior is affected by the actions of organizations.  They report that “Firms can save considerable money if consumers conserve resources (e.g., if hotel patrons turn off the lights when leaving the room, restaurants patrons use fewer paper napkins, or airline passengers clean up after themselves).”  Data gathered “in real-world hotels . . . show that consumers' conservation behavior is affected by the extent to which consumers perceive the firm as being green. . . .

PawsWay, Toronto

The design of Purina’s PawsWay center in Toronto boosts the mood—and wellbeing—of all of its users, regardless of species.  It is an indoor space where people can spend time with their pets and learn more about the joys, and responsibilities, of caring for them—while both the people and pets have fun.  Inter-species bonding is particularly important as pets in Western societies often provide significant amounts of psychological support to their human companions.

Good, Small Urban Parks (01-31-17)

Currie studied how the design of small urban parks.  She learned that “Public parks contribute to neighbourhood quality of life, promote a more public daily life, serve as important focal points for neighbourhoods, and provide access to nearby nature as part of the built environment. . . . This research identified design principles that good, small urban parks share – including accessibility, specificity, authenticity, functionality, and adaptability – applicable in smaller cities, towns, and lower density areas.”  

Resident Preferences and Walkability (01-30-17)

Brookfield probed how resident preferences align with neighborhood design elements that have been tied to walkability.  She found, after conducting focus groups with eleven residents’ groups with diverse sets of participants, that “Residents’ groups favoured providing a selection of services and facilities addressing a local need, such as a corner shop, within a walkable distance, but not the immediate vicinity, of housing. . . .

Workplace Losses (01-27-17)

Barnes and Wineman investigated employees’ bonds to their workplaces.  At the 2017 SPSP conference they reported that data were collected in the course of a workplace redesign project: “In a longitudinal study our team examined worker satisfaction, wellbeing, work effectiveness and engagement within workplace environments on a large university campus.  Findings suggest that perception of loss is a predictor of [lower] worker satisfaction and that designing for functional fit does not solve the impact of perceived loss.”

Linking Place and Psychological State (01-26-17)

Ellard and his team reported on their work at the 2016 Psychology of Architecture conference.  They shared that they “have developed a toolkit using specially programmed mobile phones and sensor technology that permits rapid assessment of psychological and physiological responses to place.  Participants in our experiments are led on curated walks while prompted to answer self-assessment questions, complete cognitive tests, and are monitored for physiological arousal and some simple indices of brain activity.  Findings from experiments conducted in five different cities have shown a strong d

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Research Conversations

Frank Lloyd Wright interior

Visual complexity is an important driver of experience.  Both too much and too little are bad for our mood and cognitive performance.  Neuroscience research reveals how to manage visual complexity, disorder, and clutter.
 

An engaging cubicle

“Engagement” is a hot topic—it’s being discussed by everyone from human resource managers to community organizers; boosting it is the goal of almost every group, regardless of size.   And the research is clear:  design can buoy users’ engagement with organizations, or not. 
 

Surveillance Sign

Want people to obey the rules, do the right thing, keep out of mischief and just generally, behave in socially acceptable ways?  Environmental neuroscientists have done a lot of research on how design can encourage space and object users to be on their best behavior—insights from their studies can be applied in practice.
 

Nest Chairs

The design of temporary nests make a real difference in humans’ lives.  The spaces people call “home” for short periods of time can constructively enrich experiences when thoughtfully and empathetically developed.

News Briefs

Stadium-style seating

Thinking changes with a tip of the head
 

Aligning project phases with working conditions expedites creativity

Too little is too bad

Bright, uniform, and overhead prevail

An outcome to be avoided

Color saturation influences perceptions

Opportunities affect responses

Book Reviews

Reviews fractals and their role in design, for the mathematically inclined reader

Design at Work

PawsWay1

The design of Purina’s PawsWay center in Toronto boosts the mood—and wellbeing—of all of its users, regardless of species.