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.

To comment on a blog entry, please send an e-mail message to
RSS blog feed: RSS feed - Latest Blog Posts

Trujillo and Howley looked at relationships between climate and crime levels; their findings indicate the importance of Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) in Torrid Zones and of tailoring CPTED features to an area.  The research team “investigates the relationship between weather and crime in Barranquilla, Colombia, a city in the Torrid Zone, which in contrast to more commonly studied temperate zones is hot and humid year-round. Our analysis is based on daily variations in four weather variables (temperature, relative humidity, precipitation, and wind speed) and two indicators of criminal activity, namely, homicides and interpersonal violence. . . . we do not find any statistically significant relationship between weather patterns and homicides. However, we find that weather can be an important predictor of interpersonal violence in this area. These findings draw attention to the importance of considering weather factors when designing a long-run urban security policy in one of the world’s most vulnerable regions to climate change.”

Juan Trujillo and Peter Howley.  “The Effect of Weather on Crime in a Torrid Urban Zone.” Environment and Behavior, in press,

Vallen and colleagues have noted an interesting relationship between consumer physical forms and recommendations made to them; future studies that indicate if their findings can be applied in other contexts will be useful.  The Vallen-lead team found that “This research demonstrates that a consumer's physical appearance—and, more specifically, his or her body size—predictably influences the product(s) that the consumeris recommended. Four studies conducted in both field and lab settings show that agents more frequently recommend round (vs. angular) shaped products to heavier targets, notably for products and categories in which body size is irrelevant (e.g., lamps and perfume). We attribute this to a combination of shape‐congruency and trait‐congruency, whereby individuals choose products for others based on shared dimensions of the person and product.”

Beth Vallen, Karthik Sridhar, Dan Rubin, Veronika Ilyuk, Lauren Block, and Jennifer Argo.  2019. “Shape- and Trait-Congruency: Using Appearance-Based Cues as a Basis for Product Recommendations.”  Journal of Consumer Psychology, vol. 29, no. 2, pp. 271-284,

Botner, Mishra, and Mishra link various types of sounds, when used in names, to perception of risk.  The team found that “For decisions involving greater risk and reward for the consumer, marketing decision- makers may benefit from using more volatile names. That is, a risky financial portfolio targeting adventurous investors that seek high risk and reward could use a volatile name. Conversely, when people seek more certain outcomes, a calm name could be more effective; e.g., a conservative money market account may be perceived as more stable and thus more effective in garnering interest from cautious investors if its name appears calm. Or, consider a charity or fundraising initiative with a high or low probability of success at its onset. In this instance, a more volatile project name could garner greater donations when positioned as an underdog or long shot. Conversely, when positioned as having a high chance of success, the project could receive greater buy-in when its project name is more calm.”  Examples of volatile and calm names are provided: “Taketa”is seems more volatilethan “Maluma.”

Keith Botner, Arul Mishra, and Himanshu Mishra.  “The Influence of the Phonetic Elements of a Name on Risk Assessment.”  Journal of Consumer Research, in press,

As gift giving season approaches, it’s useful to keep top-of-mind the findings of a Rixom-lead team and interesting to consider how their work might be applied in other contexts.  The researchers report that “when recipients open a gift from a friend, they like it less when the giver has wrapped it neatly as opposed to sloppily. . . . Specifically, recipients set higher (lower) expectations for neatly (sloppily)-wrapped gifts, making it harder (easier) for the gifts to meet these expectations, resulting in contrast effects that lead to less (more) positive attitudes toward the gifts once unwrapped. However, when the gift-giver is an acquaintance, there is ambiguity in the relationship status and wrapping neatness serves as a cue about the relationship rather than the gift itself. This leads to assimilation effects where the recipient likes the gift more when neatly wrapped.  We assess these effects across three studies and find that they hold for desirable, neutral, and undesirable gifts, as well as both hypothetical and real gifts.”

Jessica Rixom, Erick Mas, Brett Rixom.  “Presentation Matters:  The Effect of Wrapping Neatness on Gift Attitudes.”  Journal of Consumer Psychology, in press,

Stancato and Keltner have identified additional implications of feeling awed.  They share that “Guided by prior work documenting that awe promotes humility, increases perceptions of uncertainty, and diminishes personal concerns . . . we tested the hypothesis that awe results in reduced conviction about one’s ideological attitudes. . . . participants induced to experience awe, relative to those feeling amusement or in a neutral control condition, expressed less conviction regarding their attitudes toward capital punishment. . . . and reduced desired social distance from those with different viewpoints regarding immigration. . . . These findings indicate that awe may lead to uncertainty and ambivalence regarding one’s attitudes . . . and that this in turn may promote reduced dogmatism and increased perceptions of social cohesion.” Research has shown that awe can be induced, for instance, by seeing majestic nature, such as the Grand Canyon, impressive architecture, for instance the Taj Mahal, and examples of outstanding workmanship.

Daniel Stancato and Dacher Keltner. “Awe, Ideological Conviction, and Perceptions of Ideological Opponents.”  Emotion, in press,

Park and Hadi evaluated links between cool temperatures and perceptions of luxury.  They determined that “physical cold can indeed increase consumers’ perceptions of a product's status signaling and luxuriousness. We demonstrate this consequence can stem from tactile or visually induced temperatures and ultimately increase consumers’ overall evaluations of products.”  The same effects were found when study participants saw something that reminded them of the cold, such as a winter scene in an advertisement, or when cold was physically experienced.  These findings should inform temperatures set in stores and temperature cuing in retail artworks and colors, for example.

Jaewoo Park and Rhonda Hadi. “Shivering for Status:  When Cold Temperatures Increase Product Evaluation.” Journal of Consumer Psychology, in press,

Gabriel and Montenegro confirm that the design of the spaces where animals are exhibited influences the opinions zoo-goers form of those animals.  The researchers had people view “animals in wild, naturalistic, front cage bar, or back cage bar settings with a name-only control. . . . Perceptions of docility increased and vigor decreased as the naturalness of the environment declined.”

Kara Gabriel and Carolina Montenegro.  “An Animal’s Environment Influences Perceptions of Docility and Vigor But Not Aesthetic Appeal:  A Constructive Replication.”  Environment and Behavior, in press,

Arnal and teammates probed what sorts of sounds alarm humans.  They found that “One strategy, exploited by alarm signals, consists in emitting fast but perceptible amplitude modulations in the roughness range (30–150 Hz). . . . Rough sounds synchronise activity throughout superior temporal regions, subcortical and cortical limbic areas, and the frontal cortex, a network classically involved in aversion processing.”  Rough sounds from 40-80 Hz are especially unpleasant for us to hear.  The 40-80 Hz range is where the frequencies of babies crying, human screams, and many alarms are found.

Luc Arnal, Andreas Kleinschmidt, Laurent Spinelli, Anne-Lise Giraud, and Pierre Megevand.  2019. “The Rough Sound of Salience Enhances Aversion Through Neural Synchronisation.”  Nature Communications, vol. 10, article 3671,

Tezer and Bodur evaluated the effects of environmentally responsible situations on how people feel. They determined that their “research explores how using a green product (e.g., a pair of headphones made from recycled materials) influences the enjoyment of the accompanying consumption experience (e.g., listening to music), even if consumers have not deliberately chosen or purchased the product. Five experiments in actual consumption settings revealed that using a green (vs. conventional) product enhances the enjoyment of the accompanying consumption experience, referred to as the greenconsumption effect. Merely using a green product makes consumers perceive an increase in the extent to which they are valued as individuals by society, which leads to warm glow feelings, and consequently enhances the enjoyment of the accompanying consumption experience. When consumers experience low social worth, the positive effect of using green products on the accompanying consumption experience is amplified. The greenconsumption effect disappears when the negative environmental impact of the green product attribute is low.”

Ali Tezer and H. Bodur. “The Greenconsumption Effect:  How Using Green Products Improves Consumption Experiences.”  Journal of Consumer Research, in press,


Subscribe to Latest Blog Posts