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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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Our physical environment influences our cravings for alcohol, cigarettes, and harmful foods.  Researchers have determined that “Green views were inversely associated with craving strength and frequency. . . . Access to a garden/allotment was inversely associated with craving. . . . Access to gardens/allotments and residential views incorporating more than 25% greenspace were both associated with reductions in the strength and frequency of cravings.” This study has important public health implications  and the links between exposure to nature and reduced  cravings can reasonably be assumed to be present in other space types, such as workplaces.

Leanne Martin, Sabine Pahl, Mathew White, and Jon May.  “Natural Environments and Craving:  The Mediating Role of Negative Affect.”  Health and Place, in press, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.healthplace.2019.102160

Sinclair and colleagues investigated the implications of listening to music.  They report that “Music streaming, structured by an expanding network of social interdependencies (e.g. musicians, sound engineers, computer scientists and distributors) has made it easier to consume music in a wider number of social and private spaces and to a greater degree. . . .  We argue that music is used to demarcate, transition between, and blur space. Music plays an important role in facilitating the rhythm of routine, helping individuals to adjust to the demands of different spaces (based on varying intensities and immediacies of social pressures) and manage mood.”

Gary Sinclair, Julie Tinson, and Paddy Dolan. 2019.  “Music in the Time-Spectrum:  Routines, Spaces and Emotional Experience.”  Leisure Studies, vol. 38, no. 4, pp. 509-522, https://doi.org/10.1080/02614367.2019.1597147

Khan, McGeown, and Bell studied primary school learning environments in Bangladesh.  They share that at “the intervention school, a barren school ground was redesigned with several behavior settings (e.g., gardens and amphitheater) for teaching and learning. Treatment group children . . . received math and science classes outdoors, while a comparison group . . . received usual indoor classes. . . . The redesigned school ground was associated with higher levels of academic attainment. Furthermore, all intervention schoolchildren perceived more opportunities to explore in the redesigned school ground.”  Children taught outdoors performed better on exams than children taught indoors.

Matluba Khan, Sarah McGeown, and Simon Bell.  “Can an Outdoor Learning Environment Improve Children’s Academic Attainment?  A Quasi-Experimental Mixed Methods Study in Bangladesh.” Environment and Behavior, in press, https://doi.org/10.1177/0013916519860868

Li, Chen, and Zhang investigated links between music tempo, fatigue, and attention.  As they report, “drivers were enrolled in four sessions of real-road driving tests under the following four music conditions: no music, slow tempo, medium tempo and fast tempo. . . . Of the three tempos, medium-tempo music is the best choice to reduce fatigue and maintain attention for a long-distance driving. Slow-tempo music can temporarily boost the quality of attention, but after a long period of driving, it significantly deteriorates the driver’s levels of fatigue and attention. Fast-tempo music helps relieve driver fatigue but significantly deteriorates drivers’ attention after an extended driving time.”  The researchers describe music listened to by study participants: “We selected three versions [of the same song], which corresponded to our slow-tempo (40–70 bpm [beats per minute]), medium-tempo (85–110 bpm) and fast-tempo (> 120 bpm) categories. . . .  the tempos of these remixes were 42, 92 and 122 bpm, respectively.”    

Rui Li, Yingjie Chen, and Linghao Zhang.  “Effect of Music Tempo on Long-Distance Driving:  Which Tempo is the Most Effective at Reducing Fatigue?”  i-Perception, in press, https://doi.org/10.1177/2041669519861982

Forder and Lupyan studied perception of colors.  They report that “simply hearing color words enhances categorical color perception, improving people’s accuracy in discriminating between simultaneously presented colors in an untimed task. Immediately after hearing a color word participants were better able to distinguish between colors from the named category and colors from nearby categories. Discrimination between typical and atypical category members was also enhanced. Verbal cues slightly decreased discrimination accuracy between two typical shades of the named color. . . . The finding that color words strongly affect color discrimination accuracy suggests that categorical color perception may be caused by color representations being augmented in-the-moment by language.”

Lewis Forder and Gary Lupyan.  2019. “Hearing Words Changes Color Perception: Facilitation of Color Discrimination by Verbal and Visual Cues.”  Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, vol. 148, no. 7, pp. 1105-1123, http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/xge0000560

A study published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society Bindicates that there are important similarities in emotional responses to a range of real world experiences.  A press release issued by Dartmouth related to the research efforts, lead by Sievers, states that “Death metal band logos often have a spiky look while romance novel titles often have a swirly script. The jaggedness or curviness of a font can be used to express an emotional tone. . . . sounds, shapes, speech and body movements convey emotional arousal the same way across the senses. The findings explain why nearly anything can have an emotional tone, including art, architecture and music. . . . [for example] ‘spiky shapes seem to convey higher arousal [energy level] than rounded shapes’ [quote attributed to study senior author Wheatley].. . . Participants were asked to draw shapes that were angry, sad, excited, or peaceful. The researchers then estimated the spectral centroids of the drawings by counting how many corners they had. The results revealed that angry and excited shapes had between 17 and 24 corners on average, while sad and peaceful shapes had between 7 and 9 corners on average.”

“How Sounds, Shapes, Speech and Body Movements Convey Emotion Through One Shared Property.”  2019. Press release, Dartmouth College, https://www.dartmouth.edu/press-releases/how_sounds_shapes_speech_and_bo...

McDougall and colleagues investigated the best sorts of sounds to use as medical alarms.  They conducted “two experiments, with nonclinical participants, alarm sets which relied on similarities to environmental sounds (concrete alarms, such as a heartbeat sound to indicate ‘check cardiovascular function’) were compared to alarms using abstract tones to represent functions on medical devices. The extent to which alarms were acoustically diverse was also examined: alarm sets were either acoustically different or acoustically similar within each set. . . . concrete alarm sets, which were also acoustically different, were learned more quickly than abstract alarms which were acoustically similar. Importantly, the abstract similar alarms were devised using guidelines from the current global medical device standard (International Electrotechnical Commission 60601–1–8, 2012). . . . eye tracking data showed that participants were most likely to fixate first on the correct medical devices in an operating theater scene when presented with concrete acoustically different alarms using real world sounds.”

Sine McDougall, Judy Edworthy, Deili Sinimeri, Jamie Goodliffe, Daniel Bradley, and James Foster.  “Searching for Meaning in Sound:  Learning and Interpreting Alarm Signals in Visual Environments.”  Journal of Experimental Psychology:  Applied, in press, http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/xap0000238

Roozen investigated how views of a store influence decisions to enter it. Her “results show that task-oriented female clothing shoppers have a higher store entry intention when the store entry is less crowded, and the window display has a creative complex composition. Recreational female clothing shoppers, on the other hand, prefer crowded complex window displays.”

Irene Roozen.  2019.  “The Influence of External Design Elements on Clothing Store Entry Intentions for Recreationally and Task-Oriented Female Clothing Shoppers.”  The International Review of Retail, Distribution and Consumer Research, vol. 29, no. 4, pp. 409-429, https://doi.org/10.10180/09593969.2019.1581075

What do children think is important at pediatric hospitals?  Researchers from Edith Cowan University collected information from school-aged children in Australia and New Zealand during hospital stays and determined that “Feeling safe and being able to get to sleep at night are the things that matter most to sick kids in hospital. . . .  The children surveyed identified their most important needs as:

1   ‘To know I am safe and will be looked after.’

2   ‘To get enough sleep at night.’

3   ‘That staff listen to me.’

4   ‘To have places my parents can go to for food and drinks.’

5   ‘To have my mum, dad or family help care for me.’”

 The findings of this study are published in the Journal of Advanced Nursing.

“What Do Sick Kids Really Need in Hospital?”  2019. Press release, Edith Cowan University, https://www.ecu.edu.au/news/latest-news/2019/06/what-do-sick-kids-really-need-in-hospital

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