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.

February 2015

Research indicates that building spaces where musicians can perform into children’s hospitals is a good idea.  Longhi and her colleagues have learned that  “Live music in hospital has been suggested to be effective in helping paediatric patients to relax, and reduce their pain and anxiety. . . . [for study participants, all between 7 days and 4 years old]. . . . A significant decrease in heart rate and pain level were found at the end of the [10-minute] music session. . . . We conclude that it is music per se, and not the social component associated with it, that helps to improve paediatric patients’ wellbeing.”

Elena Longhi, Nick Pickett, and David Hargreaves.  “Wellbeing and Hospitalized Children:  Can Music Help?”  Psychology of Music, vol. 43, no. 2, pp. 188-196.

February 2015

Previous research has linked sitting in expansive postures to particular ways of thinking while still seated in these “poses”, as discussed here.  New research has determined that there are aftereffects of having been sitting in a “power pose.”  As Cuddy and her colleagues describe, they investigated whether “engaging in expansive [expansive, open] (vs. contractive [closed]) ‘power poses’ before a stressful job interview—preparatory power posing—would enhance performance during the interview. . . . those who prepared for the job interview with high- (vs. low-) power poses performed better and were more likely to be chosen for hire.”  Seating options provided in human resource departments just became even more important.

Amy Cuddy, Caroline Wilmuth, Andy Yap, and Dana Carney.  “Preparatory Power Posing Affects Nonverbal Presence and Job Interview Performance.”  Journal of Applied Psychology, in press.

February 2015

When freeways become greenways, the relative concentrations of different sorts of employers shift.  Researchers have learned that “The replacement of freeways with urban greenways is a major urban physical renovation that makes cities greener and more liveable. . . . Seoul’s urban greenway tends to attract and retain firms in office sectors within a kilometre, while the freeway provides a favourable infrastructure for the geography of service industries. In addition, employment density increased within a 1.2km zone surrounding the urban greenway, in contrast to the freeway, which only had a similar effect within a 600m zone.”

Myungjun Jang and Chang-Deok Kang.  “The Effects of Urban Greenways on the Geography of Office Sectors and Employment Density in Seoul, Korea.”  Urban Studies, in press.

February 2015

How does having a number of “desirable life experiences” affect assessments of being in more run of the mill destinations?  Researchers have learned that “Being a world traveler—or just feeling like one—may undermine the proclivity to savor visits to enjoyable but unextraordinary destinations.”  This effect may influence data collected during programming research, for example.

Jordi Quoidbach, Elizabeth Dunn, Michel Hansenne, and Gaelle Bustin.  2015.  “The Price of Abundance:  How a Wealth of Experiences Impoverishes Savoring.”  Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, vol. 41, no. 3, pp. 393-404.

February 2015

Data collected by de Dear and his team indicates that primary and secondary school students’ assessments of the temperatures in schools depends on their life experiences.  As the researchers detail “An indoor operative temperature of about 22.5°C was found to be the students’ neutral and preferred temperature, which is generally cooler than expected for adults. . . . Despite the lower-than-expected neutrality, the school children demonstrated considerable adaptability to indoor temperature variations. . . . the present analysis indicates an acceptable summertime range for Australian students from 19.5 to 26.6°C. . . . with students in locations exposed to wider weather variations showing greater thermal adaptability than those in more equable weather districts.”

Richard de Dear, Jungsoo Kim, Christhina Candido, and Max Deuble.  2015.  “Adaptive Thermal Comfort in Australian School Classrooms.”  Building Research and Information, vol. 43, no. 3, pp. 383-398.

February 2015

Hellwig’s research confirms the value of providing space users with moderate levels of control over their experiences in a space.  As she reports, “Providing the occupants with control over the indoor environment is widely accepted for its positive effect on their satisfaction. . . . Satisfaction with the indoor environment occurs not only when ‘comfort’ is provided but also immediately after a successful control action. . . . Giving control to occupants can result in higher levels of satisfaction.”

Runa Hellwig, 2015.  “Perceived Control in Indoor Environments:  A Conceptual Approach.”  Building Research and Information, vol. 43, no. 3, pp. 302-315.

February 2015

Brager, Zhang, and Arens present a comprehensive argument for redefining thermal comfort.  As they detail, “The building industry needs a fundamental paradigm shift in its notion of comfort, to find low-energy ways of creating more thermally dynamic and non-uniform environments that bring inhabitants pleasure. . . . A significant energy cost is incurred by the current practice of controlling buildings within a narrow range of temperatures (often over-cooling in the summer). . . . Five new ways of thinking . . . are presented for designing or operating buildings to provide enhanced thermal experiences. They . . . include shifts from centralized to personal control, from still to breezy air movement, from thermal neutrality to delight, from active to passive design, and from system disengagement to improved feedback loops.”

Gail Brager, Hui Zhang, and Edward Arens.  2015.  “Evolving Opportunities for Providing Thermal Comfort.”  Building Research and Information, vol. 43, no. 3, pp. 274-287.

February 2015

Researchers confirm that whether information is presented in pictures or in words affects how we respond to it.  Rim and his team have learned that “words promote thinking of events in terms of their abstract and central features (i.e., high-level construal), whereas pictures promote thinking in terms of more concrete and idiosyncratic features (i.e., low-level construal).”  This finding has implications for the way that design options are presented and research is conducted, for example.

SoYon Rim, Elinor Amit, Kentaro Fujita, Yaacov Trope, George Halbeisen, and Daniel Algom.  2015.  “How Words Transcend and Pictures Immerse:  On the Association Between Medium and Level of Construal.” Social Psychological and Personality Science, vol. 6, no. 2, pp. 123-130.

February 2015

Mitt Romney famously infuriated some American voters by likening corporations to people, but recent research shows he was definitely onto something, psychologically.  Plitt, Savjani, and Eagleman collected data via functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and learned that  “our brains understand and analyze the actions of corporations and people very similarly.”  This finding supports research protocols based on visualizing corporations as people, for example.

Mark Plitt, Ricky Savjani, and David Eagleman.  2015.  “Are Corporations People Too?  The Neural Correlates of Moral Judgments About Companies and Individuals.” Social Neuroscience, vol. 10, no. 2, pp. 113-125.