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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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Pappas reviews a wide range of research related to road traffic safety.  Design related information presented includes “Visually cluttered roads, confusing signage, and broad thoroughfares that practically beg drivers to stomp on the accelerator can encourage behaviors that raise risk. . . . Design choices like medians, trees, and cycle lanes can obstruct drivers’ views of the horizon and move their focus close to the front of their cars, encouraging more cautious driving.”

Stephanie Pappas.  2022. “Improving Traffic Safety.”  Monitor on Psychology, vol. 53, no. 4, pp. 47-55.

Liu and colleagues probed how physical effort relates to assessments of natural beauty; their findings linking effort and judgments made are likely applicable more broadly than the tested condition.  They report that “participants wearing a heavy backpack gave higher esthetic scores to and generate a strong attentional bias toward the green natural landscapes. Furthermore, the implicit association test (IAT) revealed that a green natural landscape was more readily associated with a high level of relaxation when the participants wore a backpack. The results indicated that the bodily sensation of a physical burden modulates [affects] the esthetic preference for natural environments when they consist of green plants, which are associated with a high level of relaxation and have significant evolutionary implications.”

Sizhe Liu, Hua Wang, Wenxuan Liu, Shuxian Lai, Xueru Zhao, Xianyou He, and Wei Zhang.  “The Influence of Physical Burden on the Esthetics Preference for Green Natural Environment.”  Environment and Behavior, in press, https://doi.org/10.1177/00139165221093881

Flouri and teammates set out to learn how physical environments influence decisions made by children.  They report that This study used the UK’s Millennium Cohort Study to investigate the role of greenness of the child’s immediate residential area at ages 9 months and 3, 5, 7, and 11 years in reward and punishment sensitivity, measured using the Cambridge Gambling Task (CGT), at age 11 years. Our sample was the children who lived in urban areas at all five time-points and with data on the CGT at the fifth. . . . children in the least green areas were more likely to engage in ‘fast’ decision strategies than other children: they showed higher sensitivity to reward (or lower sensitivity to punishment). . . . in children, the relative absence of contextual greenery is associated with increased risk-taking rather than its increased quantity with reduced risk-taking. . . . the built environment can impact on risk-taking among children as young as 11 years old.”

Eirini Flouri, Dongying Ji, and Jonathan Roiser.  2022. “The Role of Urban Greenspace in Children’s Reward and Punishment Sensitivity.”  Landscape Research, vol. 47, no. 2, pp. 256-270, https://doi.org/10.1080/01426397.2021.2021160

Steelcase conducted a pediatric healthcare-related literature review and developed design principles that can be used in a variety of spaces, from waiting areas to exam rooms.  Via the literature review, Steelcase determined that in pediatric healthcare settings “engaging young patients in their surrounding environment can help minimize anxiety and promote a sense of calm. Exploration provides choices, and choices provide a sense of control. . . . Children need movement and sensory experiences to reduce stress. . . . Children need environments tailored to their abilities and ages.” The design principles developed include: “Encourage play and positive distraction. . . . Activity zones should be tailored to different ages, abilities and characteristics. . . . Incorporate natural elements. . . . biophilic design can also suggest or reflect nature in more subtle ways. For example, floor tiles that mimic the flow of a river and nature-inspired artwork can provide wayfinding as well as wellbeing benefits. . . . creating a variety of settings within a larger area can meet needs for both privacy and community. . . .  flexibility is a value-add for the patient experience as well as the organization.”

Steelcase.  2022. “Designing Effective Pediatric Care Spaces.”  https://www.steelcase.com/research/articles/topics/healthcare/designing-effective-pediatric-care-spaces/?utm_term=pediatric-health-article&utm_campaign=health&utm_medium=email&_hsmi=212623031&_hsenc=p2ANqtz--kd-X2hMe_ggqVD6ejXpYduA1AqDr6b2roTMEVgNI1YxyZ7vaezW8u1xaWBoieWRwJD8tfBKHfZabe0NjLqUv4XbJvpQ&utm_content=360-biweekly-may-10&utm_source=hubspot

Radun and colleagues investigated the effects of impulsive sound on cognitive performance.  They report that “Exposure to impulsive sound (65 dB LAeq) was compared with quiet sound (35 dB LAeq) and steady-state sound (65 dB LAeq). . . . Compared to quiet sound, impulsive sound caused more annoyance, workload, and lack of energy, raised cortisol concentrations, reduced systolic blood pressure, and decreased accuracy. . . . Compared with steady-state sound, impulsive sound was experienced as more annoying and causing a higher workload and more lack of energy. Impulsive sound caused physiological and psychological stress and decreased performance compared to quiet sound. . . . Impulsive sound . . . involves strong onsets, i.e., rapid elevations of the sound level, and a release of sound right after the impulse has reached its maximum. . . . examples in everyday life are walking, door sounds, ball games, keyboard tapping, and hammering.”  Physiological stress was determined via concentrations of stress hormones, heart rate variability, and blood pressure readings.

Jenni Radun, Henna Maula, Ville Rajala, Mika Scheinin, and Valtteri Hongisto.  “Acute Stress Effects of Impulsive Noise During Mental Work.”  Journal of Environmental Psychology, in press, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvp.2022.101819

Jia and colleagues studied factors influencing whether people feel crowded.  They report that their work indicates “that walking velocity depicts pedestrian perceived congestion more accurately than density. . . . the larger the gap between the desired and actual velocities, the larger the extent of the perceived congestion.” 

Xiaolu Jia, Claudio Feliciani, Hisashi Murakami, Akihito Nagahama, Daichi Yanagisawa, and Katsuhiro Nishinari.  2022. “Revisiting the Level-Of-Service Framework for Pedestrian Comfortability:  Velocity Depicts More Accurate Perceived Congestion than Local Density.” Transportation Research Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour, vol. 87, pp. 403-425, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.trf.2022.04.007

The Center for Health Design is providing free, at the web address noted below, an interactive rendering highlighting key research that can be applied during the design of treatment rooms in emergency departments.  As noted on the website on which the diagram appears, “Two goals are often at the center of current care models for mental or behavioral health: safety and healing. In the Emergency Department, design has traditionally focused on safety for both patients and staff through checklists for ligature-resistance. Newer approaches place a strong emphasis on healing, as well, resulting in a therapeutic approach for a more flexible use of a Treatment Room.  Each organization will need to balance priorities to meet specific performance standards and anticipated patient acuity to establish an appropriate solution. Some organizations may decide on a universal approach - the design must be flexible enough to accommodate a range of patient acuity, including those who may be experiencing behavioral or mental health issues. Generally, the evidence base for design of the Therapeutic ED Treatment Room focuses on deinstitutionalized design aesthetic that provides a sense of being both welcoming and safe.”  A chart at the website noted below provides information on design elements tied to the rendering (i.e., layout-within room, layout-room location, flooring, walls, ceiling, windows, doors, plumbing/sink/alcohol gel dispenser, HVAC, electrical, lighting, furniture, casework/storage, and technology/internet communication/monitoring equipment) such as related specific desirable outcomes (for example, minimizing stigma or patient stress/anxiety), design strategies, and pertinent references.

For image:  https://www.healthdesign.org/tools/interactive-design-diagrams/outpatient-ambulatory-care-rooms/therapeutic-ed-treatment-room#design-element—6

For chart: https://www.healthdesign.org/sites/all/themes/chd2015/donghia/Therapeutic%20ED%20Treatment%20Room_Outcomes_Strategies.pdf

Sorokowska and colleagues investigated how personal space preferences influenced COVID-19’s spread; interpersonal spacing is a core environmental psychology research area.  The Sorokowska-lead team report that “it was explored if interpersonal distance preferences . . . were valid measures of physical distancing in contacts between strangers and whether they related to country-level variation in early dynamics of SARS-CoV-2 spread. The analysis, based on aggregated data from more than 9,000 participants, showed that variation in early dynamics of SARS-CoV-2 spread (i.e., total number of SARS-CoV-2 cases 20 days after the 100th case) was . . . significantly and negatively related to the preferred interpersonal distance between strangers.”

Agnieszka Sorokowska, Supreet Saluja, Konstantinos Kafetsios, and Ilona Croy.  2022. “Interpersonal Distancing Preferences, Touch Behaviors to Strangers, and Country-Level Early Dynamics of SARS-CoV-2 Spread.”  American Psychologist, vol. 77, no. 1, pp. 124-134, https://doi.org/10.1037/amp0000919

Researchers from the University of Exeter have identified some benefits of playing outdoors and their findings can be used to encourage the development and maintenance of outdoor play areas for children.  The investigators report, in a study published in Child Psychiatry and Human Development, that “children who spend more time playing outside had fewer ‘internalising problems’ – characterised as anxiety and depression. Those children were also more positive during the first lockdown. . . . results were consistent even after researchers factored in a wide range of demographic variables including child sex, age, parent employment status etc. and parent mental health.  The study in the Great Britain group also found that the effect was more pronounced in children from lower income families than those growing up in higher income households.”

“Children Who Play Adventurously Have Better Mental Health, Research Finds.”  2022.  Press release, University of Exeter, https://www.exeter.ac.uk/news/research/title_912650_en.html

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