RDC Blog

January 2012

Welcome to the Research Design Connections blog, started in 2007. Recent blog entries are available here. Earlier blog entries (one for every working day since the beginning of May, 2007) are available to subscribers.

This is a forum to discuss recent research of interest to designers. To comment on a blog entry, please send an e-mail message to sallyaugustin@researchdesignconnections.com.

January 2015

Pierrette and colleagues, while developing a survey that can be used to assess worker response to the soundscape in their workplace, determined that “It is currently accepted that noise is one of the most important annoyance factors in open-space offices. However, noise levels measured in open [work] spaces . . . rarely exceed 65 dB(A). . . . The majority of . . .  respondents consider that the ambient noise level in their environment is high. . . . intelligible conversations represent the main source of noise annoyance; moreover, overall noise level is not related to this annoyance.”  Efforts to reduce the likelihood of overhearing conversations are clearly important.

M. Pierrette, E. Parizet, P. Chevret, and J. Chatillon.  2015.  “Noise Effect on Comfort in Open-Space Offices:  Development of an Assessment Questionnaire.”  Ergonomics, vol. 58, no. 1, pp. 96-106.

January 2015

Adlakha and his colleagues have researched neighborhood features that encourage walking, confirming many findings from earlier studies.  They determined via telephone interviews, that “In home neighborhoods, seven . . .  BE [built environment] features (availability of fruits and vegetables, presence of shops and stores, bike facilities, recreation facilities, crime rate, seeing others active, and interesting things) were associated with leisure PA [physical activity]. . . . diverse, attractive, and walkable neighborhoods around workplaces support walking, bicycling, and use of public transit.”

Deepti Adlakha, Aaron Hipp, Christine Marx, Lin Yang, Rachel Tabak, Elizabeth Dodson, and Ross Brownson.  2015.  “Home and Workplace Built Environment Supports for Physical Activity.” American Journal of Preventive Medicine, vol. 48, no. 1, pp. 104-107.

January 2015

Biswas and his colleagues have assessed the studies indicating that it is not healthy for people to spend too much time sitting, and their findings confirm the value of sit-stand desks and other design interventions that get people onto their feet.  The researchers found that “Prolonged sedentary time was independently associated with deleterious health outcomes regardless of physical activity.”  Studies related to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, and other illnesses were included in this review.

Aviroop Biswas, Paul Oh, Guy Faulkner, Ravi Bajaj, Michael Silver, Marc Mitchell, and David Alter.  2015. “Sedentary Time and Its Association With Risk for Disease Incidence, Mortality, and Hospitalization in Adults:  A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.”  Annals of Internal Medicine, vol. 162, no. 2, pp. 123-132.

January 2015

Need to remember details, about the way a space looks, for example?  Close your eyes.  A study published in Legal and Criminology Psychology, indicates that we remember audio and visual details of situations more accurately when we think about them with our eyes closed.

“New Study Finds That Closing Your Eyes Boosts Memory Recall.”  2015. Press release, University of Surrey, http://www.surrey.ac.uk.

January 2015

Kok, Mobach, and Omta collected additional evidence indicating that environmental conditions are perceived to influence student performance.  They learned via a survey of teachers at Dutch universities that “there is a statistically significant positive relationship between the perceived quality of cleanliness, classrooms, classroom conditions, front office and ICT with study success. . . . Based on the research findings it is clear that a prime consideration in educational built environment design is to facilitate social interaction, and to create meaningful, clean, self-contained and small-scale physical settings for users within large institutions.”

Herman Kok, March Mobach, and Onno Omta.  “Predictors of Study Success from a Teacher’s Perspective of the Quality of the Built Environment.”  Management in Education, in press.

January 2015

Research by Lawrence and Peterson again links passing through doorways and forgetting.  Lawrence and Peterson conducted two experiments: “Participants familiarised themselves with both real (Experiment 1) and virtual (Experiment 2) environments which served as the setting for their mental walk. They were then provided with an image to remember and were instructed to imagine themselves walking through the previously presented space. In both experiments, when the mental walk required participants to pass through a doorway, more forgetting occurred.”  In a 2011 study reported in The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, Radvansky, Krawletz and Tamplin found that people forget things when they physically walk through doorways and aren’t able to remember what they’ve forgotten when they return to their original location.  These findings support designing spaces where people can complete tasks, particularly those requiring concentration, entirely within the same area, without passing through any doorways.

Zachary Lawrence and Daniel Peterson.  “Mentally Walking Through Doorways Causes Forgetting:  The Location Updating Effect and Imagination.”  Memory, in press.

January 2015

Chemicals in citrus odors have been linked to inhibited growth of cancer cells.  A study, whose findings were published in Archives of Biochemistry and Biophysics, lead by Hatt from Ruhr-University Bochum, indicates that “As main component of essential oils, terpenes can inhibit the growth of different cancer cells. Researchers . . . have analysed this process in liver cancer cells in detail. They shed light upon the molecular mechanisms that resulted in cancer cells stop growing [sic], following the application of (-)-citronellal, and they proved that the olfactory receptor OR1A2 is the crucial molecule for that purpose.”

“Citrus Scent Inhibits Liver Cancer.”  2015.  Press release, Ruhr-Universitaet-Bochum, http://www.alphagalileo.org.

January 2015

Feeling cold is “contagious.” More evidence that it’s a good idea to carefully regulate temperature via materials and HVAC systems in spaces that will be used by more than one person:  seeing someone who feels cold makes us think we’re cold.  Cooper and her colleagues determined that “During social interactions, our own physiological responses influence those of others. . . . observing cues indicating a change in another's body temperature [specifically, cues that indicate that they are cold] results in a corresponding temperature change in the observer.”

Ella Cooper, John Garlick, Eric Featherstone, Valerie Voon, Tania Singer, Hugo Critchley, and Neil Harrison.  2014.  “You Turn Me Cold:  Evidence for Temperature Contagion.” PLoS ONE, vol. 9, no. 12, http://journals.plos.org.

January 2015

We form different opinions when we’re looking up than we do when we're looking down.  Designers can display options in various ways, and that’s one context in which this research finding can be applied.  Van Kerckhove, Geuens, and Vermeir learned that “consumers select a different product when they look down versus up. . . . people are accustomed to looking down to process nearby stimuli and to looking up to process distant stimuli, and . . . perceived distance is linked to concrete versus abstract processing. . . . downward (upward) head and eye movements evoke more concrete (abstract) processing because downward (upward) head or eye movements have come to serve as a proximity (distance) cue.  . . .Consumers choose more for [sic] feasible versus desirable products when looking down and vice versa when looking up.  They also tend to be more preference-consistent when looking down versus up.”

Anneleen van Kerckhove, Maggie Geuens, and Iris Vermeir.  “The Floor is Nearer than the Sky:  How Looking Up or Down Affects Construal Level.”  Journal of Consumer Research, in press.