Research Design Connections

Music Preferences and Personality (06-15-18)

Nave, Minxha, Kosinski, Greenberg, Rentfrow, and Stillwell conducted research linking opinions about particular types of music and personality—it’s interesting to consider potential applications of their findings beyond music.  The investigators found that “high-openness people . . . liked mostly sophisticated music. We define this as music that is inspiring, complex and dynamic. It comprises mostly classical, operatic, world and jazz pieces. The high-openness people, on the other hand, disliked . . .

Overheard Conversations (06-14-18)

People developing or using sound masking systems will be intrigued by Marsh and team’s research related to overheard conversations.  The Marsh-lead group determined that “Overhearing a telephone conversation—whereby only one of the two speakers is heard—is subjectively more annoying and objectively more distracting than overhearing a full conversation.

More Research on Symmetry (06-13-18)

Leder and team’s research provides nuanced insights into human beings’ responses to symmetry. The investigators learned that when they had people with an expertise related to art (artists and art historians) and people without a background in art view mandala-like designs that were symmetrical or not, and simple or complex that  “non-art experts evaluated the symmetrical–complex stimuli as most beautiful, followed in descending order by symmetrical–simple, asymmetrical–complex, and asymmetrical–simple stimuli.

Light at Night and Metabolism (06-12-18)

Mason. Zee, Grimaldi, Reid, and Malkani’s research confirms that being in a space that has much light in it at night can be bad for our health.  Their findings indicate the value of black out-type curtains at night, particularly in urban areas, and shielding patients in hospitals from nighttime light, for example.  The Mason-lead team determined that “nighttime light exposure during sleep may affect metabolic function. . . . ‘a single night of light exposure during sleep acutely impacts measures of insulin resistance,’ said lead author . . . Mason. . . .

Gut Feeling and Directions (06-11-18)

A research team lead by Suarez has found that there’s a physiological reason for that gut feeling you have about where to find more of some food you’ve enjoyed eating (in other words, where to find that bakery that sells your favorite cupcakes). Experiments with rats have shown that information transmitted from our GI (gastrointestinal) track to our brains via the vagus nerve is responsible for our powerful food location-related memories.  Designers familiar with this link may find knowing about it useful when they’re interpreting design research data, for example.

Professional Signals (06-08-18)

Research completed by Petrilli, Chopra, Saint, Kuhn, Snyder, Jennings, and Carusoindicates that the clothing worn by healthcare professionals influences the impressions people form of them—it seems probable that what the Petrilli team learned applies to other professionals and also to impressions formed via workplace design.  A press release from the University of Michigan related to the Petrilli-lead team study reports that “Just over half of the 4,062 patients surveyed in the clinics and hospitals of 10 major medical centers said that what physicians wear is important to them — and more t

Circadian Lighting Insights (06-07-18)

Robert Soler’s presentation at Lightfair in Chicago (May 9) reviewed important findings from peer-reviewed research on circadian lighting.  The slides he used during his session are a useful reference and are available via the web address noted below. A particularly interesting section of Soler’s presentation related to the spatial distribution of light in a space.  As the notes available with Soler’s slides indicate, with interior circadian lighting, “During the Day time, light up your ‘sky’ . . . During the Night time, darken your “sky” and light your ‘fire’. .

Retail/Restaurant Art (06-06-18)

Oh, Lee, Kim, and Choo investigated how people are influenced by restaurant art.  The research team determined that  “the effect of attitudes toward an artwork on behavioral intentions is amplified when consumers’ art knowledge and levels of openness to experience are low. . .  how consumers perceive an artwork . . . is powerful in leading them to enter a store and have desirable consumption experiences.

More Reasons Art Matters (06-05-18)

Kim and Kim learned more about how viewing art influences how we think.  They found that  “artistic cues lead participants to consider more abstract features than concrete features. . . . The activated abstract mindset trigged by artistic cues can provoke prosocial choice.” Prosocial thinking is focused on the welfare of other people.  More information on Kim and Kim’s findings:  “exposure to artistic (vs. nonartistic) cues, promotes an abstract (vs. concrete) mindset. . . .


Research Conversations


Transitioning from outside to inside or from one zone outdoors or indoors to another is a big deal psychologically and it’s an experience that design can elevate, or not. Cognitive scientists have investigated many space transition-related topics, and applying their findings in practice makes positive transitions more probable than negative ones.


For many groups, effective collaboration is a prerequisite for success. Neuroscience-based design keeps colleagues—in offices, healthcare facilities, schools, and elsewhere—effectively working toward common goals. 


Social scientists have developed a rich understanding of how people make choices—and clients, users, and designers all make decisions.  Designers who know how decisions get made are more likely to produce places and things that enhance both human wellbeing and performance.

Traveling from place to place can be physically and mentally challenging.  Researchers have thoroughly explored how architecture, interior design, and signage can help us keep moving toward our intended destinations—and minimize our stress levels along the way. 

PlaceCoach News Briefs


Demystifying circadian stimulus

Culture-blind design is not a good idea

A more nuanced "cure" for workplace sitting

Patients per room and aggression linked

Stressed, by design

Sound and food choices

Spaces that are simultaneously good and bad

Making high performance work at work

Book Reviews

Tools to enrich designers’ problem solving processes

Design at Work


The Rotterdam airport efficiently and effectively and pleasantly transitions travelers from its entrance to their (eventually) waiting airplanes.