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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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IIzadi and colleagues learned that creativity is influenced by whether we’re facing into or away from the current of air movement in a room. The researchers, conducting research in laboratories and in the field, found that “frontal airflow (air blowing on the front of the body) boosts energetic activation and fuels enhanced performance on creative tasks, compared to dorsal airflow (air blowing on the back of the body).”  An important study detail: creative engagement was “operationalized . . . as improved performance on creative tasks.”  

Anoosha Izadi, Melanie Rudd, and Vanessa Patrick.  “The Way the Wind Blows:  Direction of Airflow Energizes Consumers and Fuels Creative Engagement.”  Journal of Retailing, in press,

How does music heard influence exercising? Terry and colleagues reviewed previously published studies and found that “Music was associated with significant beneficial effects on affective valence [mood] . . . physical performance . . . perceived exertion . . . and oxygen consumption. . . . No significant benefit of music was found for heart rate. . . . Overall, results supported the use of music listening across a range of physical activities to promote more positive affective valence, enhance physical performance (i.e., ergogenic effect), reduce perceived exertion, and improve physiological efficiency.”

Peter Terry, Costas Karageorghis, Michelle Curran, Olwenn Martin, and Renee Parsons-Smith.  “Effects of Music in Exercise and Sport:  A Meta-Analytic Review.”  Psychological Science, in press,

Krauss and teammates evaluated how the context in which art is shown influences human responses to it via a study in an actual museum.  They report that their “study set out to assess the aesthetic experience and psychophysiological responses of participants in an art museum viewing 6 artworks of Flemish expressionism. Participants were randomly assigned to one of the experimental conditions, either receiving elaborative information or descriptive information on the artworks. Aesthetic experiences were assessed via a questionnaire and through psychophysiological markers. A systematic influence of contextual information on aesthetic experience could not be shown. However, artworks had effects on aesthetic experience and heart rate, heart rate variability, skin conductance, and skin conductance variability. The results indicate that the characteristics of the artwork itself have a stronger impact than provided contextual information, at least when they are perceived as originals in a museum.”

Luisa Krauss, Celine Ott, Klaus Opwis, Andrea Meyer, and Jens Gaab.  “Impact of Contextualizing Information on Aesthetic Experience of Psychophysiological Responses to Art in a Museum:  A Naturalistic Randomized Controlled Trial.”  Psychology of Aesthetics Creativity and the Arts, In press,

McArthur simulated the experience of being in “large offices in all climate zones . . . with various outdoor air rates,” and documented the significant performance/economic benefits that result from relatively high outdoor air ventilation rates.  The researcher shares that “A benefit-cost analysis considered energy costs and carbon emission offsets to achieve net-zero carbon operation for large office buildings across international climate zones with ventilation rates ranging from 125% to 1000% ASHRAE 62.1 minimums. Key findings: (1) the productivity benefit was substantially larger than the incremental energy costs; (2) carbon offset costs were relatively low compared with energy costs and had a negligible effect on results; (3) increasing outdoor air resulted in consistently increasing net benefits on an area basis; and (4) the benefit-cost ratio was inversely proportional to the severity of the climate, with the most moderate climates actually showing a net energy decrease with elevated outdoor air.” A definition: “ANSI/ASHRAE 62.1 defines the minimum allowable outdoor air for all building types excluding low-rise residential buildings.”

J. McArthur.  2020.  “Rethinking Ventilation:  A Benefit-Cost Analysis of Carbon-Offset Increased Outdoor Air Provision.”  Building and Environment, vol. 169, no. 106551, buildenv.2019.106551

Paton and colleagues investigated human responses to sounds that water can make.  They report that “16 water sounds, with very different acoustic characteristics in the number of harmonics, fundamental frequencies, spectral information and fractal dimension (=complexity), were sampled. . . .  Relationships between sound parameters and comfort responses show that information related to harmonics is behind the preferences. . . . we demonstrated that fountains with large waterfalls or jets, produce a marked acoustic aversion to humans. It is to be expected that the same effect will happen with birds and other small vertebrates present in cities. Instead, we recommend in the design of urban parks and gardens, the adoption of artificial water channels with small jumps whose acoustic characteristics are ideal causing deep and sustained relaxation.”

Daniel Paton, Pedro Delgado, Carmen Galet, Javier Muriel, Maria Mendez-Suarez, and Matias Hidalgo-Sanchez.  2020.  “Using Acoustic Perception to Water Sounds in the Planning of Urban Gardens.”  Building and Environment, vol. 168, no. 106510,,2019.106510

Jeon and Jo studied the effects of visual and acoustic information on satisfaction with urban environments and it is likely that their findings are applicable in other contexts.  The duo determined that when “Actual site conditions were simulated using immersive virtual reality technology in which subjects were provided with visual information via a head-mounted display (HMD) and audio information via head-tracking technology using the first-order ambisonics (FOA) of headphone-based three-dimensional auralization. . . . It was shown that the availability of visual information affects the auditory perception of a number of human-made and natural sounds and the availability of audio information affects the visual perception of various visual elements. . . . One new finding was that audio information affects the perception of the naturalness of a landscape. Audio and visual information had effects of 24 and 76%, respectively, on overall satisfaction.”

Jin Jeon and Hyun Jo. 2020. “Effects of Audio-Visual Interactions on Soundscape and Landscape Perception and Their Influence on Satisfaction with the Urban Environment.”  Building and Environment, vol. 169, no. 106554,

Via aseries of studies, Wijaya and colleagues explored aspects of our sense of touch.  They determined that materials experienced as smooth, slippery, and soft were perceived as pleasant when rubbed on a human forearm.

Maria Wijaya, Darwin Lau, Sophie Horrocks, Francis McGlone, Helena Ling, and Annett Schirmer.  “The Human ‘Feel’ of Touch Contributes to Its Perceived Pleasantness.”  Journal of Experimental Psychology:  Human Perception and Performance, in press, doi: 10.1037/xhp0000705

Tham and colleagues investigated associations to particular colors at a cultural level using language groups (adults who only spoke English, who only spoke Chinese, or who were bilingual in English and Chinese).  Their “findings reveal conceptual color associations that appear to be universal across all cultures (e.g., white – purity; blue – water/sky related; green – health; purple – regal; pink – “female” traits) as well as culture specific (e.g., red and orange – enthusiastic in Chinese; red – attraction in English).”

Diana Tham, Paul Sowden, Alexandra Grandison, Anna Franklin, Anna Lee, Michelle Ng, Juhyun Park, Weiguo Pang, and Jingwen Zhao. “A Systematic Investigation of Conceptual Color Associations.”  Journal of Experimental Psychology, in press,

Siri and colleagues investigated whether the format of a piece of visual art influences how it is perceived by viewers.  The team had people look at abstract works of art, without knowing if the piece they were looking at was an original or a digital reproduction of that original. The researchers collected physiological data related to participant energy level and “participants provided behavioral ratings of color intensity, emotional intensity, aesthetic evaluation, perceived movement, and desire to touch the works of art. . . . results demonstrated that the faithful high-quality digital reproductions of works of art could be as arousing as the original works of art, but at the same time, they cannot replace the experience of standing in front of an authentic work of art in terms of explicit hedonic [pleasure-related] attributed values. . . . participants explicitly attributed higher scores in Emotion and Touch judgments to real works of art than to their digital reproductions.  In contrast, no significant differences emerged when participants judged the color intensity, the perceived movement, and the aesthetic value of digital and real works of art.. . . we did not find any difference between authentic works of art and their digital reproductions in terms of physiological measures.”

Francesca Siri, Francesca Ferroni, Martina Ardizzi, Anna Kolesnikova, Marcella Beccaria, Barbara Rocci, Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, and Vittorio Gallese.  “Behavioral and Autonomic Responses to Real and Digital Reproductions of Works of Art.”  Progress in Brain Research, in press,


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