Research Design Connections

Auto-Focus (01-25-17)

A study published in the Journal of Neuroscience indicates that we may be quicker to focus our thoughts in some locations than others.  A press release from Duke reports that “We are constantly being bombarded with attention-grabbing distractions, from the flashy shop fronts and advertisements that flank the side of the road to the tempting buzz of the phone during a meeting with the boss.

Taste and Culture (01-24-17)

People designing spaces, objects, and services don’t frequently consider how something tastes, literally, but thinking about flavors can result in useful insights for their work.  As stated on Bloomsbury’s webpage for The Taste Culture Reader, “Taste is recognized as one of the most evocative senses. The flavors of food play an important role in identity, memory, emotion, desire, and aversion, as well as social, religious and other occasions.”

Carolyn Korsmeyer (ed.).  2016.  The Taste Culture Reader:  Experiencing Food and Drink.  Bloomsbury:  New York. 

Design to Support Rituals (01-20-17)

Brooks and team’s study indicates how important it is to design spaces so that they support rituals.  The researchers found that “From public speaking to first dates, people frequently experience performance anxiety. And when experienced immediately before or during performance, anxiety harms performance. Across a series of experiments, we explore the efficacy of a common strategy that people employ to cope with performance-induced anxiety: rituals.

Physical Activity and Happiness Linked (01-19-17)

Lathia and colleagues have identified ties between physical activity and happiness.  As they report, “Although exercise has also been linked to psychological health (e.g., happiness), little research has examined physical activity more broadly, taking into account non-exercise activity as well as exercise. We examined the relationship between physical activity (measured broadly) and happiness using a smartphone application. .  . . . The findings reveal that individuals who are more physically active are happier.

Music: Consistent Assessments by Kids and Adults (01-18-17)

Franco and his team have learned that children and adults categorize the emotional effects of music in the same ways.  This finding is important because children do not necessarily respond to sensory stimuli as adults do.  The researchers found that “novel child-directed music was presented in three conditions: instrumental, vocal-only, and song (instrumental plus vocals) to 3- to 6-year-olds previously screened for language development. . . . children chose a face expressing the emotion matching each musical track.

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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.