Latest Blog Posts
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.
Design can support effective decision-making by providing access to places where people can prepare food and eat comfortably, at workplaces and other similar locations outside the home. Organizational policies and procedures are key for the effective use of these spaces. Benjamin Vincent and Jordan Skrynka determined that “hunger significantly altered people’s decision-making, making them impatient and more likely to settle for a small reward that arrives sooner than a larger one promised at a later date. . . . ‘We found there was a large effect, people’s preferences shifted dramatically from the long to short term when hungry,’ he [Vincent] said. . . . For three different types of rewards, when hungry, people expressed a stronger preference for smaller hypothetical rewards to be given immediately rather than larger ones that would arrive later.” Vincent and Skrynka’s study is published in Psychonomic Bulletin and Review.
“Don’t Make Major Decisions on an Empty Stomach, Research Suggests.” 2019. Press release, University of Dundee, https://www.dundee.ac.uk/news/2019/dont-make-major-decisions-on-an-empty...
A recent press release from the Association for Psychological Science indicates that there is an issue with the design of the most recently released iPhone. The press release reports that “The three camera lenses on the new Pro and Pro Max phones have sparked reactions from people who suffer from trypophobia—a fear of clusters of small holes like those found in English muffins, honeycomb, or lotus flowers. . . . complaints about the iPhone design have drawn attention to a seminal 2013 study published in Psychological Science. Vision scientists Geoff Cole and Arnold Wilkins. . . . compared 76 images of objects obtained from a trypophobia website, and found that the objects have relatively high contrast energy at midrange spatial frequencies in comparison to control images. More importantly, they found that a variety of poisonous animals—including the king cobra, the blue-ringed octopus, and the deathstalker scorpion—share this same spectral characteristic. . . . ‘We found that people who don’t have the phobia still rate trypophobic images as less comfortable to look at than other images’ [Cole].” The image of a blue-ringed octopus here (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue-ringed_octopus) illustrates the problematic dot pattern.
“Newest iPhones Draw Attention to Research on Fear of Holes.” 2019. Press release, Association for Psychological Science, https://www.psychologicalscience.org/publications/observer/obsonline/new...
Hu, Rosa, and Andersonstudied the feasibility of using yellow in situations where safety is important and found it is a good option when timely visibility is important. They investigated if “yellow differentially influence[s] attention and action and if so is this related to purely visual or affective factors? . . . Despite being matched in arousal, when yellow and blue were pitted against each other, yellow was consistently seen as occurring first, even when objectively appearing second at short stimulus onset asynchronies. Despite being matched in valence, yellow again showed a larger temporal priority when it was pitted against red. . . . .These results support that yellow is a safety color, having a temporal advantage.”
K. Hu, E. Rosa, and A. Anderson. “Yellow Is for Safety: Perceptual and Affective Perspectives.” Psychological Research, in press, http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00426-019-01186-2
As more and more people use standing desks, understanding how standing influences thinking becomes more important. Smith, Davoli, Knapp, and Abrams report that “Postural changes and the maintenance of postural stability have been shown to affect many aspects of cognition. . . . we examined the extent to which selective visual attention may differ between standing and seated postures in three tasks: the Stroop color-word task, a task-switching paradigm, and visual search. We found reduced Stroop interference, a reduction in switch costs, and slower search rates in the visual search task when participants stood compared to when they sat while performing the tasks. The results suggest that the postural demands associated with standing enhance cognitive control, revealing broad connections between body posture and cognitive mechanisms.” More information on cognitive control is available here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Executive_functions
K. Smith, C. Davoli, W. Knapp, and R. Abrams. “Standing Enhances Cognitive Control and Alters Visual Search.” Attention, Perception, and Psychophysics, in press, http://dx.doi.org/10.3758/s13414-019-01723-6
Romero, Craig, and Kumar studied physical experiences and perceptions of time. They report that “Cognitive linguistic studies have found that people perceive time to be intertwined with space. Western consumers, in particular, visualize time on a horizontal spatial axis, with past events on the left and future events on the right. . . . Integrating cognitive linguistics, time psychology, and intertemporal choice . . . five studies [demonstrate] that when choices are displayed horizontally (vs. vertically), consumers more steeply discount future outcomes. . . . horizontal (vs. vertical) temporal displays enhance the amount of attention devoted to considering the time delay and lead consumers to overestimate how long it will take to receive benefits.”
Marisabel Romero, Adam Craig, and Anand Kumar. 2019. “Mapping Time: How the Spatial Representation of Time Influences Intertemporal Choices.” Journal of Marketing Research, vol. 56, no. 4, pp. 620-636, DOI: 10.1177/0022243719827967
Jamrozik and associates investigated how in-office window technology influences cognitive performance and other important aspects of worker experience. The team reports on the implications of using window-shading tools that allow daylight to pass through windows and people inside to see outdoors but curtail glare. Employees who participated in this study worked in all of the test conditions over a 14-week period doing their regular work tasks and for their entire workday. The performance and satisfaction of study participants experiencing the window technologies were compared to their performance and satisfaction in a baseline condition, during which they did not have access to daylight or views outdoors. In the Well Living Lab facility configured as an open office, the researchers “tested the occupant impacts of two modern shading systems designed to provide daylight and view while minimizing glare: windows with manually-controlled motorized mesh shades (Mesh Shades) and windows with automatic tinting (Dynamic Tint). . . . Two aspects of cognitive function performance—Working Memory and Inhibition—improved in both the Mesh Shades and Dynamic Tint conditions.. . . There were no statistical differences between settings with Dynamic Tint and motorized Mesh Shades on measures of cognitive function performance, satisfaction, or eyestrain symptoms. . . . Access to either motorized Mesh Shades or Dynamic Tint improved occupants' satisfaction with light and view, and reduced their perceived eyestrain symptoms, compared to baseline. . . . the motorized Mesh Shades and Dynamic Tint conditions improved people's satisfaction with other aspects of the environment such as aesthetic appearance and the ability to alter physical conditions, as well as the environment overall.” The baseline conditions were created using motorized roller blackout shades (Mermet Blackout-White, Lutron Electronics), the roller mesh shade was an E Screen - THEIA™, White/Pearl (Lutron Electronics), while the electrochromic (dynamic) window tinting system was from View, Inc. More information on how each piece of window technology was configured and test conditions generally are available at the web address noted below.
Anja Jamrozik, Nicholas Clements, Syed Hasan, Jie Zhao, Rongpeng Zhang, Carolina Campanella, Vivian Loftness, Paige Porter, Shaun Ly, Selena Wang, and Brent Bauer. 2019. “Access to Daylight and View in an Office Improves Cognitive Performance and Satisfaction and Reduces Eyestrain: A Controlled Crossover Study.” Building and Environment, vol. 165, 103379, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.buildenv.2019.106379
Researchers from the University of London have found that we may now be defining journey length not just in terms of miles/kilometers but also in terms of the battery life of our mobile phones. Investigators, lead by Thomas Robinson, found during a study of London commuters that participants “viewed their daily trip in terms of the time and distance between charging points for mobile technology. ‘People no longer think about their destination being 10 km away or 10 stops on the tube. They think about it being 50 per cent of their battery away,’ said the study’s lead author, Dr. Thomas Robinson. ‘During interviews respondents discussed how a full battery gauge made them feel positive and as though they could go anywhere or do anything. Anything less than half full, however, induced feelings of profound anxiety and discomfort,’ [Thomas Robinson] said. . . . . As mobile phones are now far more than just means of communication — they are maps, digital wallets, entertainment systems, diaries, banking, step and pulse counters etcetera — battery icons are at the heart of social and consumer tasks. Management of battery levels structures people’s daily activities.”
“Battery Icons Shape Perceptions of Time and Space and Define User Identities.” 2019. Press release, University of London, https://www.city.ac.uk/news/2019/september/mobile-technology-battery-ico...
Glasgow and teammates evaluated mood during travel by contacting people periodically during their journeys via their phones. The researchers found that “Mood differed as a function of exposure to various built and natural environments. . . . Positive mood was higher for pedestrians and for bicyclists [than for people engaged in motorized travel]. . . . Interpersonal conversation during trips was associated with more positive mood. . . . Errand trips were associated with more negative mood compared to other trips. . . . Mood was lower when individuals travelled through places with a higher Walk Score®, but higher when individuals travelled through natural environments. All participants felt less safe when bicycling. . . . The research demonstrated how . . . urban transportation infrastructure could be designed to enhance mental well-being.” More information on Walk Score® is available here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walk_Score
Trevin Glasgow, Huyen Le, E. Scott Geller, Yingling Fan, and Steve Hankey. “How Transport Modes, the Built and Natural Environments, and Activities Are Associated with Mood: A GPS Smartphone App Study.” Journal of Environmental Psychology, in press, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvp.2019.101345
Researchers from the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, the University of Sussex, and University College London investigated how scents and sounds influence our perceptions of our bodies. The team found “that olfactory stimuli combined with auditory stimuli can change our perception of our body. . . . People feel thinner and lighter when exposed to the smell of lemon, while feeling heavier and more corpulent when they smell vanilla. . . . Through a device adapted to a pair of shoes . . . . [researchers] analysed how our perception of our body changes when the [acoustic] frequency spectrum of steps taken during physical activity was modified in real-time. ‘By increasing high frequencies, people feel lighter, happier, walk in a more active way and as a result, they find it easier to exercise’, explains Ana Tajadura-Jiménez, a lecturer in the Computer Science and Engineering Department at” Universidad Carlos III de Madrid. The press release from Universidad Carlos III de Madrid concludes that “These results will allow new and more effective therapies to be designed, such as virtual reality experiences or the development of interactive clothes or portable technology.”
“Olfactory and Auditory Stimuli Change the Perception of Our Body.” 2019. Press release, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, https://www.uc3m.es/ss/Satellite/UC3MInstitucional/en/Detalle/Comunicaci...