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Welcome to the Research Design Connections blog, started in 2007. Recent blog entries are available here. Earlier blog entries (one for every working day since the beginning of May, 2007) are available to subscribers.

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Pink drinks seem to have particularly powerful effects on our physical performance.  Researchers from the University of Westminster have found that “pink drinks can help to make you run faster and further compared to clear drinks. . . . a pink drink can increase exercise performance by 4.4 per cent and can also increase a ‘feel good’ effect which can make exercise seem easier.”All drinks evaluated were exactly the same except for their color. This study is published in Frontiers in Nutrition.  

“Pink Drinks Can Help You Run Faster and Further, Study Finds.”  Press release, University of Westminster, https://www.westminster.ac.uk/news/pink-drinks-can-help-you-run-faster-a...

Ruta and colleagues probe humans’ positive feelings toward curved things.  They report that “Preference for curvature has been demonstrated using many types of stimuli, but it remains an open question whether curvature plays a relevant role in responses to original artworks. To investigate this, a novel set of paintings was created, consisting of 3 variations—curved, sharp-angled, and mixed—of the same 16 indeterminate subjects. . . . participants assigned higher ratings to the curved compared to the sharp-angled version of the paintings. Similarly, when participants were explicitly asked if they wanted to take the paintings home, they assigned higher wanting ratings to the curved version. . . . However, when they were asked to act as a curator and select works they wanted for their gallery . . . no significant difference was found between the 3 sets of paintings.”

Nicole Ruta, Javier Vano, Robert Pepperell, Guido Corradi, Erick Chuquichambi, Carlos Rey, and Enric Munar. “Preference for Paintings Is Also Affected by Curvature.”  Psychology of Aesthetics Creativity and the Arts, in press, https://doi.org/10.1037/aca0000395

New research confirms the desirable effects of parks on wellbeing during the COVID-19 pandemic.  A press release from Drexel, discussing a study published in the Journal of Extreme Events (written by Montalto, Alizadehtazi,  Tangtrakul, Woerdeman, Gussenhoven, and Mostafavi) reports that “Parks played an important role for people seeking respite from the toll of social isolation during the pandemic, and according to new research from Drexel University, they did so without increasing the spread of COVID-19. The study looked at how people used 22 parks in Philadelphia and New York during the height of the pandemic and it found no strong correlation between park use and the number of confirmed cases in surrounding neighborhoods.

“Study Parks Not Only Safe, But Essential During the Pandemic.”  2021.  Press release, Drexel University, https://drexel.edu/now/archive/2021/May/pandemic-park-use-Phila-NYC/

Walshe and Moula confirm that children (age 7 and 8) link nature to positive experiences; the Walshe/Moula study is published in Child Indicators Research.  The research duo determined that “Young children in deprived areas see nature and outdoor spaces as being associated with “happy places”. . . . [the researchers asked study participants] to draw their happy place. . . .  More than half of the children created drawings that included aspects of nature and outdoor spaces, such as trees, grass, parks, gardens, lakes, rivers, outdoor playgrounds, rainbows or sunlight. Trees, in particular, were drawn by a third of the children. However, the study found the elements of nature mainly existed in the background of the drawings. Other aspects of wellbeing, such as a sense of safety, positive relationships with family and friends, and the need for love and happiness, were more explicit in the pictures.”

“Nature Draws Out a Happy Place for Children.”  2021. Press release, Anglia Ruskin University, https://aru.ac.uk/news/nature-draws-out-a-happy-place-for-children

Sidhu and colleagues have extended research findings previously derived with nonwords to English words.  The group reports that “Sound symbolism refers to associations between language sounds (i.e., phonemes) and perceptual and/or semantic features. One example is the maluma/takete effect: an association between certain phonemes (e.g., /m/, /u/) and roundness [as, for example, with maluma], and others (e.g., /k/, /ɪ/) and spikiness [as, for instance, with takete]. While this association has been demonstrated in laboratory tasks with nonword stimuli. . . . Here we examined whether the maluma/takete effect is attested in English, across a broad sample of words. . . . We found evidence that phonemes associated with roundness are more common in words referring to round objects, and phonemes associated with spikiness are more common in words referring to spiky objects.”  

David Sidhu, Chris Westbury, Geoff Hollis, and Penny Pexman.  “Sound Symbolism Shapes the English Language:  The Maluma/Takete Effect in English Nouns.”  Psychonomic Bulletin and Review, https://doi.org/10.3758/s13423-021-01883-3

Choudhury has integrated findings from his and other’s working from anywhere-related research to detail emerging best practices; his article is available without charge at the web address noted below.  Choudhury’s material is useful to anyone developing a working from anywhere program or looking for insights into environments that support working from anywhere.  As Choudhury states in the overview for his article, “The pandemic has hastened a rise in remote working for knowledge-based organizations. This has notable benefits: Companies can save on real estate costs, hire and utilize talent globally, mitigate immigration issues, and experience productivity gains. . . .  Workers get geographic flexibility (that is, live where they prefer to), eliminate commutes, and report better work/life balance. However, concerns persist regarding how WFA affects communication, including brainstorming and problem-solving; knowledge sharing; socialization, camaraderie, and mentoring; performance evaluation and compensation; and data security and regulation.”

Prithwiraj Choudhury. 2020. “Our Work-from-Anywhere Future.”  Harvard Business Review (online version), https://hbr.org/2020/11/our-work-from-anywhere-future

Vink and colleagues have thoroughly studied how physical comfort is evaluated in different countries. They report that “A questionnaire was sent to participants out in nine countries (Brazil, Canada, the USA, China, Indonesia, Thailand, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands). . . . All countries score the comfort of a luxurious bed higher than a simple bed, first-class seats higher than economy class and all countries rate the comfort lower when the duration of sitting increases. The study suggests that in the USA and Canada softer beds, hammocks, more luxurious seats and softer pillows are scored as more comfortable compared with the other countries. There are indications that China and Germany prefer a harder mattress than in the other countries. For pillows, the differences between countries are large, which might show that much is influenced by habitude or hesitation to use something new. The Asian countries score the comfort of a brace neck pillow higher.”

Peter Vink, Shabila Anjani, Sumalee Udomboonyanupap, Golnoosh Torkashvand, Thomas Albin, Symone Miguez, Wenhua Li, Christian Reuter, and Amalia Vanacore.  2021. “Differences and Similarities in Comfort and Discomfort Experience in Nine Countries in Asia, the Americas and Europe.”  Ergonomics, vol. 64, no. 5, https://doi.org/10.1080/00140139.2020.1853248

Erkan investigated how temperature influences “architectural liking.”   Study participants experienced “a virtual reality environment at three different temperatures (15°C, 22°C, 30°C). . . .  An EEG device was used to determine the cognitive activities of the participants during space navigation. In addition, an eye-tracking device was used in virtual reality goggles to identify the areas that participants were looking at. It was determined that the architectural preferences of the people changed depending on the temperature of the space. . . . The architectural liking score average was at the lowest at the temperature of 30°C. The architectural liking average was higher at the 15°C temperature than the architectural liking at the 30°C, but lower than that of 22°C.”

Ilker Erkan. 2021.  “Cognitive Response and How It Is Affected by Changes in Temperature.” Building Research and Information, vol. 49, no. 4, pp. 399-416, https://doi.org/10.1080/09613218.2020.1800439

Gheewalla and colleagues assessed how distracting different sorts of noises are.  They learned, by having study participants complete reading comprehension tasks, that “Compared to working silence, white noise also reduced the efficiency of text comprehension.”

Fateema Gheewalla, Alastair McClelland, and Adrian Furnham. 2021.   “Effects of Background Noise and Extraversion on Reading Comprehension Performance.”  Ergonomics, vol. 64, no. 5, https://doi.org/10.1080/00140139.2020.1854352

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