Research Design Connections

Genetics and Looking (11-06-17)

Kennedy and his team have found that how we look at something, literally, is influenced by our genes.  Designers can use what these researchers have learned to better understand curious research results, for example.  The Kennedy-lead group reports that “Where one looks within their environment constrains one’s visual experiences, directly affects cognitive, emotional, and social processing . . . influences learning opportunities . . . and ultimately shapes one’s developmental path.

Improving On-Trail Experiences (11-03-17)

Kohlhardt and team studied the optimal design of trails through parks.  They share that “Large crowds in parks can be a problem for park managers and visitors.  . . . We used . . . visual images . . . to estimate park users’ utilities [the benefits or values they perceive] associated with their visitor experience in Garibaldi Provincial Park in British Columbia, Canada. Our visual method allowed us to control for background view and compare user preferences on hiking trails with preferences at final destinations.

Workplace Rudeness (11-02-17)

It is important to design workplaces that reduce the likelihood of rude behavior, for more than the obvious reasons.  It is particularly important to smooth interactions that might occur during morning hours, for example as people arrive or get early cups of coffee.  The Woolum team found that if employees are relatively less confident and emotionally stable “a single exposure to [witnessed, i.e., visually observed] rudeness in the morning can contaminate employees’ perceptions of subsequent social interactions leading them to perceive greater workplace rudeness throughout their workday. .

Air Pollution Degrades Mental Health (10-31-17)

Research by Sass and her colleagues reveals that air pollution degrades the mental health of the people who experience it.  Their work indicates that, in areas with higher levels of air pollution, it is particularly important to develop public and other spaces that support positive psychological experiences.  The Sass team describes their research efforts in the United States:  “Using annual-average measures of air pollution in respondents' census blocks of residence we find that over the period 1999–2011 [fine] particulate matter 2.5 is significantly associated with increased psychological

London’s Design Museum

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

Interior spaces at the museum are flooded with natural light, so it would be hard to have a bad experience in the building—natural light’s ability to boost our mood and enhance our cognitive performance is well documented, and discussed in detail here.  


Research Conversations


Humans live better lives around plants – whether those plants are “real” or man made or pictured in artwork.  Research in the sciences makes it clear that our green leafy friends can’t be ignored and shouldn’t be abandoned.


Cognitive scientists have extensively researched how the design of a building can streamline its evacuation.    This article presents the most applicable of their findings.


In the last three years (2015 – 2017) scientists have been busy publishing important new insights on how what we see, hear, touch, and smell influences how we think and behave.  Their most important design-relevant work is reported here. 

Often designing a familiar-seeming sort of environment/object is best, although there are plenty of situations when unusual is a better design direction.   

PlaceCoach News Briefs


Public debate on findings continues


Color gets mainstream attention

Relevant research reviewed by a master

Light intensity affects mood and alertness

Response to art linked to the room

Positive design for the homeless and formerly homeless

Who likes what varies, a lot

Are all seasons created equal?

Book Reviews


Learn more about designing spaces where people do well, mentally and physically

Packed with useful insights  savvy designers can  apply

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.