Research Design Connections

Mistakes and Value (02-20-18)

Reich, Kupor, and Smith learned that items made by mistake may have higher value than those created intentionally.  Their work sheds light on creating desirable products.  The researchers found that “Mistakes are often undesirable and frequently result in negative inferences about the person or company that made the mistake.

Encouraging Green Living (02-19-18)

Schneider and team have found that the pride people anticipate feeling after taking an environmentally responsible action is more likely to encourage green living than the anticipated guilt of not living in an Earth-friendly way.  As the researchers report, “We find evidence that anticipating one’s positive future emotional state from green action just prior to making an environmental decision leads to higher pro-environmental behavioral intentions compared to anticipating one’s negative emotional state from inaction.

Crowding and Buying (02-16-18)

Sometimes, it’s desirable for customers to feel crowded in a store, and retail spaces can be sized accordingly.  Huang, Huang, and Wyer’s work “suggests that a crowded environment can sometimes have a positive impact on consumer behavior.  Although feeling crowded motivates consumers to avoid interacting with others, it leads them to become more attached to brands as an alternative way of maintaining their basic need for belongingness.”  The effect identified, increased attachment to brands, “does not occur (a) when the crowding environment is composed of familiar people (and, therefore, is

Selecting and Erring (02-14-18)

Buechel and Townsend investigated how people decide which products to buy and the repercussions of those decisions.  The team reports that their “research identifies a systematic error in consumers’ preferences and predicted liking for product aesthetics.  Consumers predict a faster decrease in liking for high (vs.

Standing and Working (02-13-18)

Makkonen and colleagues studied how standing desks influenced the at-work experiences of employees at a software company.  They determined that, among the employees of the Finnish software company where they collected data, “the usage of standing instead of sitting workstations results in only modest promotions of physical activity, does not have an effect on mental alertness . . . decreases musculoskeletal strain in the neck and shoulders, although increasing it in the legs and feet.”  Using standing desks didn’t significantly affect employees’ satisfaction with their workstations.

Pain Meds and Experience (02-12-18)

Researchers and others struggling to make sense of experience-related data may find useful insights in a study conducted by Ratner and colleagues and published in Policy Insights from the Behavioral and Brain Sciences.  The Ratner group reports that “Over-the-counter pain medicine such as Ibuprofen and acetaminophen may influence how people process information, experience hurt feelings, and react to emotionally evocative images, according to recent studies. . .

Using a Foreign Language: Implications (02-09-18)

Research by Hayakawa and Keysar indicates that when design-related decisions are being made the language being used in a space and the language that design research was conducted in should be carefully considered.  The team report that “Mental imagery plays a significant role in guiding how we feel, think, and even behave. These mental simulations are often guided by language, making it important to understand what aspects of language contribute to imagery vividness and consequently to the way we think. Here, we . . .

Taste and Intelligence (02-08-18)

Having (aesthetic) taste and intelligence seem to be linked.  Myszkowski and colleagues found that “What makes individuals experts in judging aesthetic value is actively researched in a variety of ways. In the visual domain, one classical paradigm—used in ‘T’ (for Taste) tests (Eysenck, 1983)—consists in comparing one’s evaluative judgments of beauty with a standard judgment—provided by consensual or expert agreement. . . . We found [via a meta-analysis] a significant positive . . . correlation between g [general intelligence] and ‘T’ . . .


Research Conversations

Dome view

Ceilings significantly affect the psychological experience of being in a place, although space users do not often focus on these horizontal planes.  This article reviews neuroscience research on ceilings and how these surfaces can be used to achieve design objectives.

Reflected Façades

Cognitive science research in urban and other settings regularly shows that people are people no matter where they are and that they respond in consistent ways to the worlds around themselves. This article highlights findings from urban design studies that illustrate fundamental design principles that improve people’s lives, anyplace.


Designed and natural spaces can inspire awe in humans.  How do they produce this effect and why does it matter?  Applying insights gained from social science research to answer these questions enhances design practice.

How we sense and make sense of the environment around us—and how our brains work with information, in general—can vary based on where we are on Earth.  We discuss Equator-relative, design-related variations in thoughts and behaviors in this article.

PlaceCoach News Briefs


Findings that prevent crowding


Build in exploration

Quantifying the effects of applying basic principles

What's on the walls matters

The right answer depends on location

Research to inform design that supports rehabilitation

Practical. Relevant. Free.

Varying user experiences can be appropriate

Book Reviews


Makes unconscious forces conscious considerations

A crucial guide to an important tool

Design at Work


London’s Design Museum is a marvelous place to spend time and to learn about design's ability to influence our lives.