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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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Zhang and colleagues probed the value of physical stores.  They share that they hypothesized “that one benefit of the store to the retailer is to enhance customer value by providing the physical engagement needed to purchase deep products – products that require ample inspection in order for customers to make an informed decision. . . . we find that buying deep products in the physical store transitions customers to the high-value state more than other product/channel combinations. . . . Customers purchase a deep product from the physical store. They reflect on this physical engagement experience, which, because it is tangible, concrete, and multi-sensory, enables them to develop strong learnings about the retailer. This experiential knowledge precipitates repatronage and generalizes to future online purchases online in the same category and in adjacent categories, thus contributing to higher customer value. This research suggests multichannel retailers use a combination of right-channel and right-product strategies for customer development and provides implications for experiential retail designs.”

Jonathan Zhang, Chun-Wei Chang, and Scott Neslin.  “EXPRESS: How Physical Stores Enhance Customer Value: The Importance of Product Inspection Depth.”  Journal of Marketing, in press,

A research team lead by Claesen confirms the value of greenery near elementary school buildings. The group report that “Greenery was measured within school boundaries and surrounding Euclidean buffers [essentially, rings around the schools] (100, 300, 1000 and 2000 m) using the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index. . . . . Greenery was positively associated with Reading [test] scores in Year 3 (all buffers except 2000 m) and in Year 5 (all buffers), with Numeracy [test scores] in Years 3 and 5 (all buffers) and with Grammar & Punctuation [test scores] in Year 5 (all buffers). . . .  TRAP [traffic related air pollution] partially mediated [explained] associations of greenery within 300 m with Numeracy in Year 3 and Grammar & Punctuation in Year 5, and within 2000 m for Reading in Year 5.”

Joep Claesen, Amanda Wheeler, Gonnie Klabbers, David Gonzalez, Miguel Molina, Rachel Tham, Mark Nieuwenhuijsen, and Alison Carver.  2021.  “Associations of Traffic-Related Air Pollution and Greenery with Academic Outcomes Among Primary Schoolchildren.”  Environmental Research, vol. 199, 111325,

Zhang, Yang, Jin, and Li have learned more about how the real environments in which virtual experiences take place influence those virtual experiences.  They state that “The experience in virtual reality (VR) is unique, in that observers are in a real-world location while browsing through a virtual scene. . . . Participants performed distance judgments in VR, which rendered either virtual indoor or outdoor scenes. Experiments were also carried out in either real-world indoor or outdoor locations. . . . . our results suggest that both the virtual and real-world environments have an impact on distance judgment in VR. Especially, the real-world environment where a person is physically located during a VR experience influences the person’s distance estimation in VR.”  The specific findings of this study are not as important as the fact that it makes it clear that researchers need to learn a great deal more about how the real environments in which VR studies take place influence results of VR studies.

Junjun Zhang, Xiaoyan Yang, Zhenlan Jin, and Ling Li.  “Distance Estimation in Virtual Reality is Affected By Both the Virtual and the Real-World Environments.”  i-Perception, in press,

A Tomasi-lead team has added to our understanding of the role scents play in our lives; their findings are published in the Journal of Medical Research and Health Sciences.  They determined via “Olfactory Virtual Reality (OVR) — a new form of VR that incorporates the sense of smell into its augmented reality  . . . . that stimulating the olfactory system via scent in practitioner-administered virtual realities can trigger memory, cognition and emotion, and may improve the therapeutic benefits of augmented realities targeting chronic pain, anxiety and mood disorders. . . . the team created a [virtual forest and campsite] simulation complete with a virtual tent, picnic table, fire pit, logs and other objects to touch, and aromas of fresh bacon and toasted marshmallows.  Participants — all inpatient psychiatry patients that voluntary participated in the study — were immersed in the forest camp environment for 8–12-minutes, in weekly OVR sessions that coincided with their standard clinical treatment plans. Following the OVR sessions, participants reported significant and immediate improvements to their anxiety, stress and pain levels that lasted up to three hours after a session.”

“Olfactory Virtual Realities Show Promise for Mental Health Practices and Integrative Care.” 2021.  Press release, The University of Vermont,

Recently published research confirms the value of spending time in nature.  Castelo lead a team that determined via lab and field studies that “exposure to nature increases a sense of self-transcendence and prosocial behavior.  Self-transcendence involves feeling deeply connected to something greater than oneself, including past and future generations.  Prosocial behaviors include donating money to charity and prioritizing others above the self. . . .  Spending time in nature has many psychological benefits for people, including stress reduction and improved mood.”

Noah Castelo, Katherine White, and Miranda Goode.  “Exposure to Nature Promotes Self-Transcendence and Prosocial Behavior.” Journal of Environmental Psychology, in press,

Schnellewald and colleagues probed how activity while doing knowledge work influences performance. As they report, their “study examines the possible effects on objective work performance while using two types of dynamic office workstations (DOWs). . . . participants each used one type with three intensities (seated, light, moderate) and completed a task battery assessing cognitive performance and office work with two levels of complexity. . . . By using DOWs, light physical activity can be integrated while working at a desk. Results showed that using different types of DOWs with different intensities does have a detrimental effect on tasks requiring a high motor control, but not on cognitive or further office work-related tasks of various complexity.”

Vera Schnellewald, Jens Kleinert, and Rolf Ellegast. 2021.   “Effects of Two Types of Dynamic Office Workstations (DOWs) Used at Two Intensities on Cognitive Performance and Office Work in Tasks with Various Complexity.”  Ergonomics, vol. 64, no. 6, pp. 806-818,

Talebzadeh’s recent research indicates the important role that soundscapes play in our lives.  His work focused on “how a personalized soundscape can help those with dementia by providing clues regarding time of day and place. . . . Using a system called AcustiCare, a personalized soundscape is created with a customized algorithm that plays scheduled sounds at specific moments throughout the day. Through feedback, the system can refine the sounds to be played the next day, helping to reinforce time and space for dementia patients. ‘The sounds consist of a collection of natural sounds, birdsongs, outdoor sounds, water/rain sounds and kitchen sounds, music, bell sound, and similar,’ Talebzadeh said. ‘From these sounds, psychoacoustic parameters and metadata is used to obtain similarity information between the different sounds. This information is used to suggest a new sound related to the feedback findings.’”

“Personalized Soundscape Could Help People with Dementia With Time, Place Recognition.”  2021. Press release Acoustical Society of America, http://acoustical

Miola and teammates set out to better understand how the form of a place influences the ease with which we learn its spatial information.  The group reports that “Field of view (FOV) allows us to perceive and learn our environment. Reducing the visual field impairs our ability to estimate distance and direction. It has been demonstrated that distance is estimated more accurately in outdoor environment (a lawn) than in indoors (hallway or lobby). . . . We studied route learning in Venice where features may or may not restrict the width of environment [the openness of the environemnt that extends into periphery]. . . .participants learned narrow and wide routes from videos, then performed various spatial recall tasks. Results showed that environmental features that restricted the width of environment impaired participants’ pointing performance, and the metric properties of their mental representations. This study newly shows that environmental features naturally restricting the width of environment can influence the ability to form spatial mental representations.”

Laura Miola, Chiara Meneghetti, Valerie Gyselinck, Federica Curcio, and Francesca Pazzaglia.  “The Influence of Environmental Context on Spatial Learning.  Openness of the Environment and Spatial Mental Representations in the City of Venice.”  Journal of Environmental Psychology, in press,

Wilson and Bellezza investigated consumer minimalism.  They share that “Minimalism in consumption can be expressed in various forms, such as monochromatic home design, wardrobe capsules, tiny home living, and decluttering. . . . Three distinct dimensions of consumer minimalism are identified: number of possessions (reflecting the ownership of few possessions), sparse aesthetic (reflecting the preference for simple and uncomplicated designs), and mindfully curated consumption (reflecting the thoughtful selection of possessions).”

Anne Wilson and Silvia Bellezza.  “Consumer Minimalism.”  Journal of Consumer Research, in press,


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