Research Design Connections

Display Size (03-15-18)

Research by Naylor and Sanchez has generated insights that should influence the size of screens on which information is presented; its further implications for the design of tools/etc. that people use to process information in the real world are intriguing. During the Naylor/Sanchez study  “Participants read a news article on either a small or a large smartphone display and rated their attitudes toward the material before and after reading. . . .

Case Study: Moving to An Activity-Based Office (03-14-18)

Rolfo and her colleagues studied the experiences of a company moving from an open-plan to an activity-based workplace.  They state that “Many companies move from open-plan offices (OPO) to activity-based workplaces (ABWs). . . . The aim of this study was to explore . . . a company’s relocation from an OPO to an ABW. . . . Results showed that satisfaction with auditory privacy, background noise, air quality, outdoor view and aesthetics increased significantly after relocation.

Order and Evaluation (03-13-18)

The order in which assessments are made influences the resulting evaluations.  O’Connor and Cheema share that “Sequential evaluation is the hallmark of fair review: The same raters assess the merits of applicants, athletes, art, and more using standard criteria. We investigated one important potential contaminant in such ubiquitous decisions: Evaluations become more positive when conducted later in a sequence.

Effects of Thinking About Spaces (03-12-18)

Corcoran and her colleagues learned that thinking about spaces influences how we assess our future.  They report that they measured “self-reported psychological mechanisms thought to underpin mental health and well-being before and after participants briefly contemplated urban/rural or desirable/undesirable residential images. Our findings demonstrate that even brief contemplation of places change how we consider our futures and that places deemed relatively undesirable appear to promote . . . threat-focused [thinking about the future]. Importantly, these changes were . . .

Photorealistic Realism (03-09-18)

Lehmuskallio and colleagues studied the ability of photographers and photo editors to distinguish photographs from photorealistic computer-generated images when they were viewed on a screen.  The investigators found that study participants were “unable to distinguish one from another, suggesting that it is increasingly difficult to make this distinction, particularly since most viewers are not as experienced in photography as those studied.”  

Music and Exercise (03-08-18)

Research linking listening to music while exercising with spending more time exercising has implications for soundscaping generally.  The American College of Cardiology reports that “a study being presented at the American College of Cardiology’s 67th Annual Scientific Session [lead author Waseem Shami] suggests listening to music during a standard cardiac stress test can help extend the time someone is able to perform the test. . . .

Synesthesia: More Insights (03-07-18)

Synesthesia is relatively common, and new research is shedding light on why some people experience it and others don’t.  As a recent press release from the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics reports, “1 in 25 people have synaesthesia, perceiving the world in unusual ways. An experience with one sense automatically leads to perception in another sense: for example, seeing colours when listening to music. . . . researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics and the University of Cambridge. . . .


Research Conversations


Many users of designed spaces and objects have sensory or psychological challenges that complicate their experiences in the physical world.  These people might be visually impaired, deaf, depressed, or have ADHD or ASD, for example.  Cognitive scientists have learned a great deal about how design can encourage positive life experiences for these individuals. 


Spaces and objects are developed at a point in time and exist for periods of time; their design influences our perceptions of how much time has passed.  Considering time, and all its implications, is important for design success, particularly if, as Hancock suggests, designers actually create time.


Our assessments of the world around us are rarely truly objective. Whether we have design training or not, our cultures, the language that we’re speaking, our location on the planet, and our gender, for example, all influence how we perceive our physical environment.  Learning more about our perceptual filters makes successful design more likely—and lot’s of research data easier to understand.

Cognitive, social, and physical scientists have been gathering data for decades that all leads to the same conclusion:  time spent designing in green leafy plants is time very well spent. 

PlaceCoach News Briefs


Sharing is not always a good idea


Design can counter air pollution's effects

Opportunities to control experience are important

Standing's effects on performance inconsistent

Multiple tools, consistent responses

Humans share basic goals, regardless of culture

Open space and street grids carry the day

Layout affects in-city temperatures 

Book Reviews

Science-based information designers need

Design at Work


The Petrie European Sculpture Court at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City is a refreshing urban oasis.