Rosenbaum and his team have developed the concept of pre-crastination, and their work may help designers better understand how spaces and objects are used. The term “pre-crastinate” is used “to refer to the hastening of subgoal [intermediate] completion, even at the expense of extra physical effort.” The effect was “discovered while conducting experiments on walking and reaching. We asked university students to pick up either of two buckets. . . and to carry the selected bucket to the alley’s end. In most trials, one of the buckets was closer to the end point.
Humans complete activities at speeds related to the tempo of sounds they’re listening to. Kuribayashi and Nittono report that “Hearing fast-tempo music in the background is shown to affect the pace of motor behavior.” The researchers “investigated how tempo influences behavioral pace in a simple perceptual-motor task in which participants heard background sound sequences (30, 60, 120, 180, and 240 bpm [beats per minute]) . . . . When sound sequences changed from slower to faster tempi (that is, ascending series), behavioral pace accelerated.
Misra and her team have learned that if a mobile device (defined as a smartphone, cell phone, laptop, tablet, or similar item) is visible (for example, because it’s on a table top or in someone’s hand) during a conversation, the quality of discussion among people present deteriorates. Data were collected in Washington, DC area coffee shops. These findings indicate the value of banning phones, laptops, etc., from meetings and also should spur the development and use of furnishings that keep these items out of view during discussions. Specifically, the research team fo
Urban planners creating child-supportive spaces can apply research completed by Loebach and Gilliland. Children 9 to 13 years old wore Global Positioning System loggers for 7 days as data were collected during the Loebach/Gilliland study. Researchers were investigating the “children’s pedestrian-based neighborhood activity: the maximum distance traveled from home.” The information gathered indicated that “Participants spent a large portion of their out-of-school time (75%) in their NAS [neighborhood activity space].
Readers familiar with environment-behavior research will not be surprised to learn that researchers have determined that the design of the spaces where they work influences nurses’ job satisfaction.
People value larger open spaces more than smaller ones. Dewaelheyns and her team report “a ‘fragmentation bias’, meaning a lower valuation of smaller units. . . . Overcoming the ‘fragmentation bias’ in open space valuation is a continuing challenge in planning and open space policies, especially in highly urbanized environments.”
Valerie Dewaelheyns, Elke Vanempten, Kirsten Bomans, Anna Verhoeve, and Hubert Gulinck. 2014. “The Fragmentation Bias in Valuing Qualifying Open Space.” Journal of Urban Design, vol. 19, no 4, pp. 436-455.
Hibbing and his team conducted research that links political ideology and ways of experiencing the physical world. Their work is most directly applicable by designers who are familiar with the probable political orientation of space/object users. The researchers report that “A rapidly growing body of empirical evidence documents a multitude of ways in which liberals and conservatives differ from each other in purviews of life with little direct connection to politics. . . .
Chawla lead a research team at Colorado University-Boulder that collected new evidence indicating the value of nature in elementary and high school yards. The investigators learned that “Playing in schoolyards that feature natural habitats and trees and not just asphalt and recreation equipment reduces children's stress and inattention. . . . Working on class assignments or gardening in such settings also provide stress-reducing benefits for youth. . . .
Harrar and Spence investigated the relationship between cutlery design and the perceived taste of food. They learned that “The appearance of cutlery can affect perception of a food’s taste. . . . [Harrar and Spence] found that when the weight of the cutlery confirms expectations (e.g. a plastic spoon is light), yoghurt seemed denser and more expensive. Color contrast is also an important factor: white yoghurt when eaten from a white spoon was rated sweeter, more liked, and more expensive than pink-colored yoghurt.
A research team lead by Agay-Shay confirmed the link between pregnant women’s access to green spaces and the birth weight of their babies—more green nearby and the babies weigh more. Research was conducted in Tel Aviv and “Surrounding greenness was defined as the average of satellite-based Normalised Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) in 250 m buffers and proximity to major green spaces was defined as residence within a buffer of 300 m from boundaries of a major green space (5000 m2), based on data constructed from OpenStreetMap.” Specifically, the scientists found that “An