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.

November 2014

New research indicates that virtual reality experiences may be significantly different from physical ones.  A related press release issued by UCLA reports that “UCLA neurophysicists have found that space-mapping neurons in the brain react differently to virtual reality than they do to real-world environments. Their findings could be significant for people who use virtual reality for gaming, military, commercial, scientific or other purposes. ‘The pattern of activity in a brain region involved in spatial learning in the virtual world is completely different than when it processes activity in the real world,’ said Mayank Mehta, a UCLA professor of physics, neurology and neurobiology in the UCLA College and the study’s senior author.”  As more information on human experience of virtual reality becomes available, particularly material useful to designers utilizing virtual reality to develop objects/places, it will be reported here.

Zahra Aghajan, Lavanya Acharya, Jason Moore, Jesse Cushman, Cliff Vuong, and Maynak Mehta.  2014.  “Impaired Spatial Selectivity and Intact Phase Precession in Two-Dimensional Virtual Reality.”  Nature Neuroscience, http://www.nature.com/neuro/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nn.3884.html

UCLA press release: http://newsroom.ucla.edu/releases/brains-reaction-to-virtual-reality-sho...

November 2014

It seems there are some real benefits to thinking about nostalgic group events; those sentimental thoughts generally strengthen relationships among teammates.  Wildschut and his colleagues learned that individuals “who reflected on a nostalgic event they had experienced together with [other] group members . . . evaluated [their] group more positively and reported stronger intentions” to associate with group members than people who “recalled a nostalgic event they had experienced individually . . . those who reflected on a lucky event they had experienced together with . . .  group members . . . and those who did not recall an event.”  After people recall group nostalgic events they are more likely to actively support other group members. A nostalgic feeling was defined as “sentimental longing for the past.” We want to return to nostalgic situations.  They can seem almost “mythical” and are more compelling than those we find merely fun or satisfying.  These findings indicate the value of placing photos or other reminders of collective nostalgic events where teammates will encounter them regularly.

Tim Wildschut, Martin Bruder, Sara Robertson, Wijnand van Tilburg, and Constantine Sedikides.  2014.  “Collective Nostalgia:  A Group-Level Emotion That Confers Unique Benefits on the Group.”  Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, vol. 107, no. 5, pp. 844-863.

November 2014

Hu and his colleagues investigated the willingness of home shoppers in China to pay for green construction. Their work revealed “that the socio-economic status of homebuyers determines their willingness to pay for green attributes. Only the rich are prepared to pay for green apartments to improve their living comfort. To all, the notion of health is appealing as consumers are willing to pay for an unpolluted environment and for non-toxic construction materials used in buildings in good locations.”

Hong Hu, Stan Geertman, and Pieter Hooimeijer.  2014. “The Willingness to Pay for Green Apartments:  The Case of Nanjing, China.” Urban Studies, vol. 51, no. 16, pp. 3459-3478.

November 2014

Recent research with people putting golf balls can logically be extended to individuals engaged in other similar activities – while boosting a few holiday golf games!  Baghurst and his colleagues investigated “the benefit of music in [a] fine motor control situation,” i.e., while people are putting golf balls.  All study participants putted while listening to, in a random order, “no music or classical, country, rock, jazz, and hip hop/rap.”  The researchers found that “With the exception of rock music, participants performed significantly better in all musical trials compared to a no music condition.  Further jazz resulted in the best performances.”

Timothy Baghurst, Tyler Tapps, Ali Boolani, Bert Jacobson, and Richard Gill.  2014.  “The Influence of Musical Genres on Putting Accuracy in Golf:  An Exploratory Study.”  Journal of Athletic Enhancement, vol. 3, no. 5, http://scitechnol.com/the-influence-of-musical-genres-on-putting-accurac...

November 2014

During the programming phase for an addition to the Nemours Alfred I. DuPont Hospital for Children in Delaware, pediatric patients were asked what sorts of features they’d like to see in the new facility.  Some of their responses are intriguing: “Those ideas included a roller coaster and a swimming pool, for starters. But most of all, they asked for solutions that would make the building itself less scary and would better accommodate their families over what might be a long stay. . . . Among solutions to that particular issue were cubbies of storage for overnight essentials in the bathroom and a pullout couch positioned so that a nearby worktable could easily be pulled up for family dinners together right in the room. . . . Feedback also inspired elements like a separate TV for family, a refrigerator in every room, and showers instead of bathtubs. . . . Requests for art . . . focused on items that they [the pediatric patients] could touch and feel or that moved.”

Jennifer Kovacs.  2014.  “What Would Pediatric Patients Spend Their Design Dollars On?” Healthcare Design, http://www.healthcaredesignmagazine.com

November 2014

Detelina Marinova and Donald Lund investigated the most effective resource allocation for online and physical retail channels. They learned that “consumers’ preferences differ when they are shopping in a physical store compared to shopping online. Catering to shoppers’ online and in-store preferences can increase the effectiveness of traditional marketing tactics such as direct marketing and enhanced customer service. . . . A well-designed store was more important to customers who were physically served in the store, whereas efficiency was a higher priority for customers shopping outside the store. ‘It’s intuitive that efficiency and cost matter to consumers online, and design perceptions matter more to customers visiting stores,’ said Marinova.” This study was published in the Journal of Marketing.

“Catering to Needs of In-Store, Online Customers Boosts Marketing Effectiveness, Revenue.”  2014.  Press release, University of Missouri, http://www.munews.missouri.edu.

November 2014

Lumpkin and his team determined that when students study in code compliant schools they perform better on standardized tests.  The researchers began their project because “Much of the focus in the literature in raising student achievement has included parental involvement, principal leadership, quality of instruction, students’ socioeconomic status, curriculum, and use of technology. Limited empirical research relates the condition of the school building as a variable that affects student achievement.”  Their research investigated “whether academic achievement of 4th-, 8th-, 9th-, and 10th-grade students as measured by the mathematics and reading subtests of the Florida Comprehensive Achievement Test (FCAT) increased in new school buildings compliant to the 2000 Florida State Requirements for Educational Facilities.” Data was collected from students attending class in buildings compliant with the 2000 Uniform Building Code or not compliant. The research  “revealed an increase in the percentage of students passing the FCAT mathematics and reading subtests in new 2000 UBC schools, which illuminates the impact of school facility on student achievement. Data from this research can inform school board members, superintendents, parents, and architects who design school buildings.”

Ronald Lumpkin, Robert Goodwin, Warren Hope, and Ghazwan Lutfi.  2014.  “Code Compliant School Buildings Boost Student Achievement.”  Sage Open, in press.

November 2014

Work by Lester and his team supports the use of single-family rooms (SFRs) in neonatal intensive care units (NICUs). The researchers studied “medical and neurobehavioral outcomes at discharge in infants born <1500 g. Participants included 151 infants in an open-bay NICU and 252 infants after transition to a SFR NICU.”  Their statistically significant findings indicate that “infants in the SFR NICU weighed more at discharge, had a greater rate of weight gain, required fewer medical procedures, had a lower gestational age at full enteral feed and less sepsis, showed better attention, less physiologic stress, less hypertonicity, less lethargy, and less pain. . . . Nurses reported a more positive work environment and attitudes in the SFR NICU.”  The researchers conclude that improvements seen “are related to increased developmental support and maternal involvement.”

Barry Lester, Kathleen Hawes, Beau Abar, Mary Sullivan, Robin Miller, Rosemarie Bigsby, Abbot Laptook, Amy Salisbury, Marybeth Taub, Linda Lagasse, and James Padbury.  2014.  “Single-Family Room Care and Neurobehavioral and Medical Outcomes in Preterm Infants.”  PEDIATRICS, vol. 134, no, 4, pp. 754-760.

November 2014

More goes into the design of a parking lot than deciding the shape of the space to be paved.  At least it does when parking lots support local activities and enhance the lives of users. Ben-Joseph considers the cultural, utilitarian, aesthetic, design, and sustainability implications of parking lots, among others.  The book is a useful and important addition to the urban planning and landscape architecture resources available to designers and interested others who want to transform parking lots from waste lands into wonder lands—or at least positive spaces.

Eran Ben-Joseph.  2012.  Rethinking a Lot:  The Design and Culture of Parking.  MIT Press:  Cambridge, MA.