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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.

April 2014

British practitioners/researchers installed a new signage system in several hospitals (images are available at the website noted below).  They determined that effective signage in customer service areas not only helps people navigate from one area of a hospital to another, but provides information that helps keep people in a space calm.  The signage tested “has been found to reduce aggression and violence by 50 percent.” 

This common sense finding is applicable in all complex environments visited by the public, not just hospitals.

More specifically, the research team learned that “’A lot of the frustration that leads to anger is just a lack of knowledge and a lack of understanding about how things work,’ explained [PearsonLloyd director Tom Lloyd]. ‘It's caused by patients not understanding the clinical language or the process or why someone who arrives after them is seen before them.’  The proposed solution focuses on placing key information in relevant locations within the waiting room and consultation areas so patients are constantly aware of where they are and how long each part of the process might take. . . . Vertical panels throughout the department explain the activities that take place in each space and their consistent appearance makes them easily identifiable.  Live information about how busy the department is and predicted waiting times for different assessments are displayed on monitors.”

“Signage System Design for Hospitals ‘Reduces Violence by 50 Percent.”  2014.  De Zeen, http://www.dezeen.com/2013/12/02/hospital-redesign-by-pearsonlloyd-reduc....

April 2014

Gantman and Van Bavel report on their recent work on pareidolia, or “seeing something significant in an ambiguous stimulus.”  Their studies indicate that “moral content gave a ‘boost’ to perceptually ambiguous stimuli.”  Moral content can be related to fundamental human, survival related needs:  “Think about how you experience food when you are hungry . . . When you are hungry, food seems to ‘pop out’ and capture your attention. . . . In the moral domain, such ‘hunger’ may take the form of a desire to redress injustice.”

Ana Gantman and Jay Van Bavel.  2014 (April 6).  “Is That Jesus in Your Toast?”  New York Times, p. 12, Review Section.

April 2014

Ridgway and Myers investigated emotions linked to particular logo colors.  Their research does not indicate how colors used on surfaces or in lighting influence humans emotionally.  For information on the psychological implications of using particular colors, see Colors to Buy, Work, Live, Heal and Play By.  Ridgway and Myers learned that “blue logos invoked feelings of confidence, success and reliability; green logos invoked perceptions of environmental friendliness, toughness durability, masculinity and sustainability; purple logos invoked femininity, glamor and charm, pink logos gave the perception of youth, imagination and fashionable; yellow logos invoked perceptions of fun and modernity; and red logos brought feelings of expertise and self-assurance."

Jessica Ridgway and Beth Myers.  “A Study on Brand Personality:  Consumers’ Perceptions of Colours Used in Fashion Brand Logos.”  International Journal of Fashion Design, Technology and Education, in press.

April 2014

Dubois, Rucker, and Galinsky have confirmed that sometimes people select options because of perceptions of their own social status.  The reported findings can be useful to designers presenting options to clients or synthesizing design-programming data.  As the researchers report, “consumers view larger-sized options within a set as having greater status. . . . states of powerlessness led individuals to disproportionately choose larger . . . options from an assortment. . . . this preference for larger-sized options was enhanced when consumption was public, reversed when the size-to-status relationship was negative (i.e., smaller was equated with greater status), and mediated by consumers’ need for status. . . . choosing a product on the basis of its relative size allows consumers to signal status.”

David Dubois, Derek Rucker, and Adam Galinsky.  2014.  “Super Size Me:  Product Size as a Signal of Status.”  Journal of Consumer Research, vol. 38, no. 6, pp. 1047-1062.

April 2014

Smart Growth America has issued a new report, highlighting the differential effects of sprawl and compact, connected development.  Their work is based on an index combining “residential and employment density; neighborhood mix of homes, jobs and services; strength of activity centers and downtowns; and accessibility of the street network.”  In previous studies  “sprawl has been linked to physical inactivity, obesity, traffic fatalities, poor air quality, residential energy use, emergency response times, teenage driving, lack of social capital and private-vehicle commute distances and times.”  The 2014 study reports “Individuals in compact, connected metro areas have greater economic mobility. Individuals in these areas spend less on the combined cost of housing and transportation, and have greater options for the type of transportation to take. In addition, individuals in compact, connected metro areas tend to live longer, safer, healthier lives than their peers in metro areas with sprawl. Obesity is less prevalent in compact counties, and fatal car crashes are less common.”

Smart Growth America.  2014.  Measuring Sprawl 2014, http://www.smartgrowthamerica.org/measuring-sprawl

April 2014

Hierarchies can be helpful, particularly when people feel that they lack control over their lives, and design can be used to make them apparent.  Friesen and his team found that “hierarchies are specifically conducive to fulfilling the psychological need to perceive one’s existence and surroundings as structured. By structured, we mean clear, orderly, and predict able and not ambiguous or random. . . . the structured nature of hierarchies—the clarity and order they provide— may give them a type of psychological advantage over more equal forms of social organization, especially in circumstances when people lack personal control.”  Employees regularly feel that they lack control over their professional experiences, for example.

Justin Friesen, Aaron Kay, Richard Eibach, and Adam Galinsky.  2014.  “Seeking Structure in Social Organization:  Compensatory Control and the Psychological Advantages of Hierarchy.”  Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, vol. 106, no. 4, pp. 590-609.

April 2014

A study completed at the University of Guelph indicates that it’s important to help heart attach patients maintain appropriate circadian rhythms.  Design can do just that.  As researchers report, “To improve recovery for heart attack patients, hospitals should maintain normal day and night cycles for those patients during the first few days after the attack. . . . [this] new study shows for the first time that interrupting diurnal rhythms impairs healing immediately after a heart attack. . . . Hospital ICUs are busy places at night, with noise, light, nursing and medical procedures, and other interruptions that disturb acutely ill patients.”

“Simple Changes in ICU Can Help Heart Attack Patients:  Study.”  2014.  Press release, University of Guelph, http://www.uoguelph.ca.

April 2014

Researchers pondering variations in evaluations of designed objects and spaces will be intrigued by a study recently completed by Bakhshi, Gilbert, and Kanuparthy.  They linked weather conditions to the prevalence of positive and negative restaurant reviews.  More specifically, “After looking at 1.1 million online reviews for 840,000 restaurants in more than 32,000 cities across the country. . . researchers have found that the weather outside can be just as significant a factor for reviews as what happens inside a restaurant. . . . evaluations written on rainy or snowy days, or very cold or hot days, are more negative than those written on nice days.”

“A Rainy Day Can Ruin an Online Restaurant Review.”  2014.  Press release, Georgia Tech, http://www.news.gatech.edu.

April 2014

Breiby investigated links between aesthetics and satisfaction with nature-based tourism.  She determined “from qualitative interviews with key informants . . . [that] five aesthetic dimensions . . . may influence the tourists’ satisfaction in a nature-based tourism context: ‘harmony’, ‘variation/contrast’, ‘scenery/viewing’, ‘genuineness’, and ‘art/architecture.’”

Monica Breiby.  2014.  “Exploring Aesthetic Dimensions in a Nature-Based Tourism Context.”  Journal of Vacation Marketing, vol. 20, no. 2, pp. 163-173.