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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 2015

What are the implications of being distracted/interrupted while reading?  Foroughi and his colleagues report that “to fully comprehend a text, individuals . . . need to do more than recognize or recall information that has been presented in the text at a later time. Reading comprehension often requires individuals to connect and synthesize information across a text (e.g., successfully identifying complex topics such as themes and tones) and not just make a familiarity-based decision (i.e., recognition). . . . interruptions disrupted reading comprehension. . . . but not recognition of information from the text.”  These findings support the design of distraction-free work zones.

Cyrus Foroughi, Nicole Werner, Daniela Barragan, and Deborah Boehm-Davis.  “Interruptions Disrupt Reading Comprehension.”  Journal of Experimental Psychology:  General, in press.

April 2015

Urban birds are economically, as well as ecologically, valuable and urban design should support bird comfort.  Clucas and her colleagues report that their “study presents the first attempt at estimating the economic value of enjoying common native urban songbirds and estimates the lower bound to be about 120 million USD/year in Seattle and 70 million USD/year in Berlin.”

Barbara Clucas, Sergey Rabotyagov and John Marzluff.  2015.  “How Much is That Birdie in My Backyard?  A Cross-Continental Economic Valuation of Native Urban Songbirds.”  Urban Ecosystems, vol. 18, no. 1, pp. 251-266.

April 2015

Feeling cold influences behavior.  Wei, Ma, and Wang learned via three sets of studies that “participants touching cold (vs. warm) objects were more willing to forgive a peer's dishonest behaviour. . . . Participants touching cold (vs. warm) objects were less likely to assist an individual who had provided them with good service (positive social context), but more likely to assist an individual who had provided them with poor service (negative social context). . . . In a pleasant queue (positive social context), participants touching cold objects were more likely to complain and those touching warm objects were less likely to complain compared with the control group. This pattern was reversed in an annoying queue (negative social context).”  Designers can apply this research by selecting materials that are more likely to feel cool or warm, for example.

Wengi Wei, Jingjing Ma, and Lei Wang.  “The ‘Warm’ Side of Coldness:  Cold Promotes Interpersonal Warmth in Negative Contexts.”  British Journal of Social Psychology, in press.

April 2015

Lau, Gou, and Liu researched how open space can be used on campus to make students and staff healthier.  They found via a “comparison of two university campuses with different urban contexts” that “For a compact campus, high-dense surroundings may limit the size of an open space and may handicap circulation and accessibility; on the other side, a small open space may provide its users more intimate contact with natural restorative elements and also a more controllable microclimate for physical comfort. A healthy campus should encompass diverse open spaces to satisfy different purposes.”

Stephen Lau, Zhonghua Gou, and Yajing Liu.  2014.  “Healthy Campus by Open Space Design:  Approaches and Guidelines.” Frontiers of Architectural Research, vol. 3, no. 4, pp. 452-467.

April 2015

Verderber and his colleagues report that applying design-related research is a good idea.  More specifically: “the intuitive dimensions of design creativity can be further advanced by means of a well timed and thoughtful injection of quantitatively based knowledge pertaining to patient, family, staff, and organizational concerns and priorities.”

Stephen Verderber, Shan Jiang, George Hughes and Yanwen Xiao.  2014.  “The Evolving Role of Evidence-Based Research in Healthcare Facility Design Competitions.”  Frontiers of Architectural Research, vol. 3, no. 3, pp. 238-249.

April 2015

Need more evidence that office personalization is a good thing?  Read on, Byron and Laurence report that “Most employees personalize their workspaces with photos, memorabilia, and other items—even in the face of constraints such as rules prohibiting personalization. . . . the objects with which employees personalize their workspaces (and even the absence of such objects) symbolize who they are and who they want to be. Through their symbolic representations of self, they find common ground (often through shared nonwork experiences), establish a common understanding of employees' work roles, and share personalistic information about the self—all of which contribute to relationship development among employees and their coworkers, customers, and clients.”

Kris Byron and Gregory Laurence.  “Diplomas, Photos, and Tchotchkes as Symbolic Self-Representations:  Understanding Employees’ Individual Use of Symbols.”  Academy of Management Journal, in press.

April 2015

Cantrell has identified several types of homebuyers.  His work can be used to streamline the residential design process.  He determined that “homebuyers fall into four categories and five sub-categories. . . . Each respondent in Cantrell’s survey had to meet the following criteria: They had to have bought an existing, furnished or staged home after 2008; they had to be 25 to 50 years old at the time of purchase and they had to have children under age 19 living at home when they occupied it. . . . [for example] People who said they bought a home because they wanted to live near the best schools ranked the home first by external factors, such as how well-suited the neighborhood or community was for raising a family, but after that, they were motivated by the first impressions that they and others formed when viewing the exterior and interior of the home. Another homebuyer segment sought fine craftsmanship in the home’s interior, which the casual observer typically would overlook upon first inspection. . . . For this group, the home’s exterior was not nearly as much of a motivator. Most homebuyers look for every fine detail.”  Home shoppers respond to conditions encountered during the home tour: “For instance, a potential homebuyer might open the door to see a highly disorganized closet and wonder what else is awry in the home, he said.”  Cantrell’s work is published in Housing and Society.

“UF/IFAS Study Sheds Light on Homebuyer Types.”  2015.  Press release, University of Florida, http://www.news.ifas.ufl.edu.

April 2015

Research Design Connections has previously reported on links between our posture and the way we think, as discussed here.  Additional research by Ranehill confirms that there is “a significant effect of power posing on self-reported feelings of power.”  Power poses open up the trunk of the body; an example of a power pose is leaning back in a chair like a recliner.

Eva Ranehill, Anna Dreber, Magnus Johannesson, Susanne Leiberg, Sunhae Sul, and Roberto Weber.  “Assessing the Robustness of Power Posing:  No Effect on Hormones and Risk Tolerance in a Large Sample of Men and Women.”  Psychological Science, in press.

April 2015

A study published in the Journal of Neuroscience indicates that the echoes inherent in most spaces serve a purpose: “echoes and fluctuations in volume (amplitude modulation) are the cues we use to figure the distance between us and the source of a noise.”  We can’t tell how far away something making a noise is in an echo-free room.

“How We Hear Distance:  Echoes Are Essential for Humans to Perceive How Far Away a Sound Is.”  2015.  Press release, University of Connecticut, http://www.uconn.edu.