Research Design Connections

Microbes! (06-30-17)

Environmental microbes, and how they influence how we think and behave, were a hot topic of discussion at NeoCon this year.  A 2016 article in Building and Environment, whose text is available at , shares important insights on these topics.

Adams and her team report that “Buildings represent habitats for microorganisms that can have direct or indirect effects on the quality of our living spaces, health, and well-being.”

Dirt’s Tale (06-29-17)

Bogard carefully details, in The Ground Beneath Us, how the dirt under our feet affects our lives.  He reports on the biological implications of paving over it, for example, and generally makes the point that the ground is a valuable resource that we should use wisely.  Dirt is much more than simply the outer skin of our planet and pavement may not really be our friend.  The text of The Ground Beneath Us makes it clear that dirt is closely tied to both our history and future as a species.

Words and Sensory Experiences (06-28-17)

Mathot, Grainger, and Strijkers link words and sensory experiences.  As they describe, “Theories about embodiment of language hold that when you process a word’s meaning, you automatically simulate associated sensory input (e.g., perception of brightness when you process lamp). . . . we measured pupillary responses to single words that conveyed a sense of brightness (e.g., day) or darkness (e.g., night) or were neutral (e.g., house).

Art for Humanity’s Sake (06-26-17)

Kim and Kim thoroughly researched how seeing art influences decisions made.  They found that “artistic cues [seeing art, paintings by Maritt and Kandinsky] lead participants to . . . . [make] prosocial choice[s].  . . . The central idea of this research is that artistic cues . . . influence consumers’ choice, specifically by promoting acceptance of prosocial appeal over proself appeal.”  Prosocial behaviors are things we voluntarily do that benefit others, such as making charitable donations and recycling.

Biking and Stress Levels (06-23-17)

Brutus, Javadian, and Panaccio linked commuting to work by bicycle to lower stress levels among those who biked to the office just after they arrived at work—which should encourage urban planners to design in bicycle lanes and others to create on-site bicycle storage facilities.  The researchers learned that employees “who cycled to work were less stressed than their counterparts who arrived by car.

Using Stuff to Describe Ourselves (06-22-17)

Rozenkrants, Wheeler, and Shiv studied how humans convey information about themselves through the products they choose.  The researchers found that “Previous research has shown that material goods can help people self-express, either because the products are themselves self-expressive (e.g., a band t-shirt) or because the products are associated with a desired group.”  The Rozenkrants lead team focused on how polarized opinions affect messages sent by objects.  Polarization of opinions about products was described as occurring when  “some people strongly like the product and other people st

Sensory Thoughts: Implications (06-21-17)

The sorts of sensory experiences we think about influence the opinions we form in intriguing ways. Elder and his team report that via multiple studies they found that “imagined senses that require close proximity to the body in order to be sensed (i.e., taste, touch)” affect our attitudes in different ways than those  “that do not require such close proximity (i.e., hearing, sight)” (quotes from published study).

Get Children Outdoors! (06-20-17)

Ulset and her research team investigated links between time spent outside and cognitive development. The team conducted a study in Norway that “examined the . . . relations between the amount of time children [average age when study began was 52 months] attending daycare spend outdoors [in naturalistic settings] and their cognitive and behavioral development during preschool and first grade. . . . analyses showed a positive relation between outdoor hours and [development of attention skills] and an inverse relation between outdoor hours and [inattention-hyperactivity symptoms]. . . .

Glasses and Surveys (06-19-17)

Want people to answer survey questions?  Wear glasses when you talk to them.  Gueguen and Martin report, “Several studies have shown that people photographed wearing eyeglasses were perceived more positively as to intelligence and honesty. However, the effect of wearing glasses on behavior and in real face-to-face relationships has never been examined. In two studies, interviewers wearing or not wearing eyeglasses were instructed to ask people in the street to respond to a survey. It was found that the compliance rate increased when the interviewer wore glasses. . . .


Research Conversations


The chairs we sit in and look at influence how we think and behave.  Their design affects our physical, emotional, and cognitive wellbeing and when we decide to work or otherwise live without them, that decision has important implications.   


Traveling from place to place can be a physical and mental challenge.  Researchers have learned a lot about how architecture, interior design, and signage can help us keep moving toward our intended destinations, stress free (relatively). 


The design of spaces and objects affect acoustic experiences. Scientists have carefully investigated how the sounds we hear influence the professional, social, and cultural lives we live, and the insights they’ve gathered should inform the design of situation-effective soundscapes.  

How air temperature influences humans psychologically has been extensively studied.  

PlaceCoach News Briefs


Go big and high or small and low


Choice depends on professional training

Guide to making the case for green offices

The last place can be a good place

Seat cushions and thinking, linked again

National culture affects room design desires

Gaze direction in portraits key

Design at Work


A space that makes happy memories more likely.