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.

May 2015

Physical stores continue to add value.  Pauwels and Neslin evaluated “the revenue impact of adding bricks-and-mortar stores to a firm's already existing repertoire of catalog and Internet channels. . . . [investigating] customer acquisition, frequency of orders, returns, and exchanges, and size of orders, returns, and exchanges. . . . store introduction cannibalizes catalog sales and has much less impact on Internet sales. Also as hypothesized, returns and exchanges increase. Interestingly, transaction sizes of purchases, returns, and exchanges do not change. The ‘availability effect’ produces a net increase in purchase frequency across channels. This more than compensates for increased returns, producing a net increase in revenues of 20% by adding the store channel.”  Data from customers living 30 miles or less from new stores were studied.

Koen Pauwels and Scott Neslin.  “Building With Bricks and Mortar:  The Revenue Impact of Opening Physical Stores in a Multichannel Environment.”  Journal of Retailing, in press.

May 2015

Several studies have recently documented the benefits of reducing time sitting.  New findings quantify relationships between being seated and walking and health.  Research published in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology reveals that “engaging in low intensity activities such as standing may not be enough to offset the health hazards of sitting for long periods of time. . . . adding two minutes of walking each hour to your routine just might do the trick. . . . there is no benefit to decreasing sitting by two minutes each hour, and adding a corresponding two minutes more of low intensity activities. However, a “trade-off” of sitting for light intensity activities [e.g. casual walking, light gardening, cleaning] for two minutes each hour was associated with a 33 percent lower risk of dying.”  Data were collected from over 3,200 individuals.  Designers can encourage walking by creating functional inconveniences, such as longer walks to rest rooms, for example.

“Walking an Extra Two Minutes Each Hour May Offset Hazards of Sitting Too Long.” 2015.  Press release, University of Utah Health Care, http://healthcare.utah.edu/publicaffairs/news/2015/04/04-30-15_short_walks_offset_hazards_of_sitting_too_long.php

May 2015

Hoff and Oberg interviewed office-working digital artists to learn more about how they believe the physical work environment can support their creative work.  The researchers found that “The physical work environment was considered to offer three types of support for creative work for the participants: functional, psychosocial and inspirational. Creative processes would find better breeding ground if functional support, such as adequate lighting and tools, and psychosocial support, such as spatial possibilities for both privacy and communication, were provided. Without inspirational support, such as brainstorming rooms, dynamic planning and imaginative interior design, the work outcome was believed to become less creative.”

Eva Hoff and Natalie Oberg.  2015.  “The Role of the Physical Work Environment for Creative Employees – A Case Study of Digital Artists.”  The International Journal of Human Resource Management, vol. 26, no. 14, pp. 1889-1906.

May 2015

Diener, Oishi, and Lucas reviewed the research related to subjective well-being, which is defined as “people’s evaluations of their lives—the degree to which their thoughtful appraisals and affective [emotional] reactions indicate their lives are desirable and proceeding well.”  Space/Design-related findings are that “Studies on green space, including experimental studies, quasi-experiments, experience sampling, and longitudinal studies suggest that people are happier in areas with parks, trees, and other greenery. . . . These studies have implications for zoning laws regarding green space. . . . There is now a large amount of diverse evidence showing that long and difficult commutes tend to be unpleasant and can lower people’s subjective well-being.”

Ed Diener, Shigehiro Oishi, and Richard Lucas.  2015.   “National Accounts of Subjective Well-Being.”  American Psychologist, vol. 70, no. 3, pp. 234-242.

April 2015

Some of us are more interested in having high-status objects than others.  Walasek and Brown report that “members of unequal societies are likely to devote more of their resources to status-seeking behaviors such as acquiring positional [status-related] goods.”  When analyzing Google searches the researchers determined that “Search terms that occur with relatively higher frequency in states with greater . . . income inequality are more likely to concern status goods—designer brands, expensive jewelry, and so forth—than nonstatus goods. . . .  when income inequality is high, additional cognitive resources and time . . . are allocated to status-relevant goods (which may or may not actually be purchased) . . . consistent with evidence suggesting that status goods serve an evolutionary signaling role.”  These findings provide insights that may be useful when working with clients, as design elements are being selected, etc.

Lukasz Walasek and Gordon Brown.  2015.  “Income Inequality and Status Seeking:  Searching for Positional Goods in Unequal U.S. States.”  Psychological Science, vol. 26, no. 4, pp. 527-533.

April 2015

Researchers at Ohio State University investigated factors linked to obesity in a study published in the International Journal of Obesity. They found “two seemingly unrelated but strong predictors of obesity: having low self-esteem related to one's weight and keeping food visibly available around the house, outside the kitchen. . . . architectural features had no relationship to obesity. . . . The architectural assessment documented such details as the distance between favored spots in the house and food storage as well as stairs and doors that might be obstacles to food access.”

“Keeping Food Visible Throughout the House is Linked to Obesity.”  2015.  Press release, Ohio State University, http://www.osu.edu.

April 2015

A number of factors influence whether a workers’ compensation claim is filed and understanding those influences provides insights on users’ experiences.  Bailey, Dollard, McLinton, and Richards learned that “Causal agents for workers' compensation claims and physical injury have largely been identified as physical demands. . . . Australian workers completed a telephone interview on two occasions 12 months apart. . . . the physical mechanism was confirmed; physical demands were related to MSDs [musculoskeletal disorder symptoms], which in turn predicted workers' compensation claims. . . . Occupational health and safety legislators and policy makers should be aware that, beyond physical demands, factors usually associated with risk for mental stress claims (e.g. harassment, bullying, and violence) may additionally manifest in physical health problems and workers' compensation injury claims.”

Tessa Bailey, Maureen Dollard, Sarven McLinton, and Penelope Richards.  2015.  “Psychosocial Safety Climate, Psychosocial and Physical Factors in the Aetiology of Musculoskeletal Disorder Symptoms and Workplace Injury Compensation Claims.”  Work & Stress, vol. 29, pp. 190-211.

April 2015

Schroeder and Epley have identified advantages of presenting proposals orally, as opposed to only in writing.  They determined that “A person’s mental capacities, such as intellect, cannot be observed directly and so are instead inferred from indirect cues. We predicted that a person’s intellect would be conveyed most strongly through a cue closely tied to actual thinking: his or her voice. . . . evaluators rated a candidate as more competent, thoughtful, and intelligent when they heard a pitch rather than read it and, as a result, had a more favorable impression of the candidate and were more interested in hiring the candidate. Adding voice to written pitches, by having trained actors . . . or untrained adults . . . read them, produced the same results. Adding visual cues to audio pitches did not alter evaluations of the candidates.”

Juliana Schroeder and Nicholas Epley.  “The Sound of Intellect:  Speech Reveals a Thoughtful Mind, Increasing Job Candidate’s Appeal.”  Psychological Science, in press.

April 2015

Research on working at treadmill desks continues to roll in.  Larson and his colleagues have learned that “Walking on a treadmill desk may result in a modest difference in total learning and typing outcomes relative to sitting, but those declines may not outweigh the benefit of the physical activity gains from walking on a treadmill.”

Michael Larson, James Le Cheminant, Kyle Hill, Kaylie Carbine, Travis Masterson, and Ed Christenson.  2015.  “Cognitive and Typing Outcomes Measured Simultaneously with Slow Treadmill Walking or Sitting:  Implications for Treadmill Desks.”   PLoS ONE, vol. 10, no. 4, e0121309.