Research Design Connections

Transparency in Restaurants: A Good Thing (08-18-17)

Buell, Kim, and Tsay found that there are positive repercussions when chefs and people ordering food can see each other.  The team created “transparency” by linking chefs and people ordering in their restaurants via video conferencing software on iPads.  They determined via “two field and two lab experiments in food service contexts . . . that reciprocal transparency, where both consumers and employees can see each other, can improve both consumer experiences and objective service quality. . . .  Customer perceptions of service value were higher when chefs could observe them . . .

Clean or Dirty Offices (08-17-17)

Huangfu and team studied links between workplace cleanliness and employee attitudes toward counterproductive work behavior (CWB).  They learned, working with a group of participants in China, that “participants working in a clean environment tended to regard CWB as less acceptable than did those in a dirty environment, that is, a cleaner environment led to harsher judgment.

Light and Risk Taking (08-16-17)

Glimcher and Tymula studied the effects of outdoor light intensity on risk taking behavior over a two-year period.  They “found that increased luminance leads to less risk taking. . . . the effects are . . . consistent, significant.”  Some useful definitions: “Risk attitudes refer to people’s willingness to take known risks. . . . ‘luminance’ is a measurement of the amount of light that falls on the surface of the earth.

Temperature and Decision-Making (08-15-17)

Temperature influences decision-making.  Working with people experiencing temperatures perceived as comfortable, Hadi and her team learned that “cold (warm) temperatures may lead individuals to rely more (less) on emotions when making decisions.”  So, when cold people are more likely to make emotion-based decisions and the reverse is true for those who are warm.  Also, “participants in the affective [emotional] task conditions showed a significant average increase in [perceived] temperature while those individuals in the cognitive condition displayed a significant average decrease in temper

The Power of Color (08-14-17)

Fulcher and Hayes’s work confirms that surface colors send powerful messages.  The duo worked with a group of children from 5 to 10 years old (average age a little over 7) finding that “children took longer to build a feminine object [feminine: cat; masculine: dinosaur] with blue bricks than with pink bricks. In the free-play task, boys built more masculine objects than girls did, regardless of the color of bricks they were given. . . . . These findings suggest that toy color and type can impact how children interact and play with toys.”

It’s Walkable, But Do They Walk? (08-11-17)

Travers and her colleagues investigated the link between walkability and actual walking among a group of Australian adults over 65 years old.  Looking at areas in a 400-meter radius around participants’ homes, the team “found no association between walkability of the built environment and walking behavior of participants. Although retirement village residents lived in more highly walkable environments, they did not walk more and their overall levels of physical activity were lower than those of community residents.”

Reverberations in Retail Spaces (08-10-17)

Lowe and Ramanathan investigated the consequences of acoustic reverberation in retail spaces.  They found that “relatively higher levels of acoustic reverberation can increase a consumer’s willingness to try unfamiliar products.  . . . Reverberation (reverb) refers to the prolongation of sound (Valente, Hosford-Dunn and Roeser 2008). Extremely high levels of reverberation might be understood or described as echo. . .  . Reverb levels are affected by the characteristics of an environment in which a sound is made.


Research Conversations


Multiple researchers have probed links between national culture and design-related expectations and experiences.  This article synthesizes study findings that have practical applications.  


Sometimes, there aren’t enough resources – financial, human, or otherwise – to design in all the features that brain science indicates would improve the wellbeing of users.  When that’s the case, designers need to make decisions based on the potential payoffs of available design options. 


Green design is fast becoming the standard for creating new places and objects.  It’s good for the planet, by definition, and cognitive science research has shown that going green has lots of other benefits.

The International Association of Empirical Aesthetics  (IAEA) met in Vienna, August 29-September 1, 2016. 

PlaceCoach News Briefs


Efficient and effective ways to improve society, by design


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Garden type and perceived restorativeness related

Change color, change complexity, change response

Again, size matters, sometimes

Calories standing = calories sitting

Unattractive neighbors, almost neutralized

Book Reviews

Eating explained, for designers and anyone who eats

Design at Work


As the world becomes an increasingly contentious place, people need to spend more time with their pets, at home and away from home.