Research Design Connections

Designing for Pedestrian Safety (01-04-17)

Smart Growth America investigated incidents in which pedestrians were hit by cars and their entire study is available free at the web address noted in the reference, below.  They report that “Multiple studies have found that reducing the number of travel lanes and installing median islands have substantially reduced all crashes, including those that often result in serious injury or death for pedestrians. . . . A Complete Streets approach helps transporta­tion planners and engineers . . .

Effects of Population Density (01-03-17)

Population density affects how lives are lived.  Sng and his colleagues report that “The world population has doubled over the last half century. . . . Across nations and across the U.S. states . . . we find that dense populations exhibit . . . greater future-orientation, greater investment in education, more long-term mating orientation, later marriage age, lower fertility, and greater parental investment. . . . experimentally manipulating perceptions of high density led individuals to become more future-oriented. . . .

2016 - December

Designing In Fun Isn’t Easy

Designing spaces or objects so that they’re fun to use can seem like such a good idea, but is it really?  And what is “fun” anyway? Research done by cognitive scientists and other social and physical scientists can help answer not only these questions, but also help identify what people will find amusing in particular circumstances. 

More Arguments for Incorporating Natural Light (12-30-16)

Phan and colleagues discuss health-related benefits of experiencing natural light; their work indicates how important it is to optimize the amount of glare-free natural light that flows into a space.  The researchers report that “Sunlight has important biological effects in human skin. Ultraviolet (UV) light striking the epidermis catalyzes the synthesis of Vitamin D and triggers melanin production. Although a causative element in skin cancers, sunlight is also associated with positive health outcomes including reduced incidences of autoimmune diseases and cancers.”

Appeal of Busyness (12-29-16)

Designers developing new places, objects, and services should note that appearing busy is becoming more desirable.  Bellezza and colleagues learned that “a busy and overworked lifestyle, rather than a leisurely lifestyle, has become an aspirational status symbol. A series of studies shows that the positive inferences of status in response to busyness and lack of leisure are driven by the perceptions that a busy person possesses desired human capital characteristics (e.g., competence and ambition) and is scarce and in demand in the job market.


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


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