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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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Yamim, Mai, and Werle investigated the affects of the temperature of food being eaten on judgments made about that food; future studies indicating the potential generalizability of their findings may lead to intriguing applications of their work. The researchers report that “This research proposes that consumers spontaneously infer that warm foods contain more calories, an unexplored lay belief we named the ‘warm is calorie-rich’intuition. Eight studies reveal that this deep-seated intuition has powerful implications in terms of guiding (and often biasing) product judgments and consumption decisions. . . . The preference for warm products is mitigated [reduced] when food energy does not provide utility to consumers though, such as when consumers have a health goal active, and it reverses when consumers purposefully aim to reduce their calorie intake. The “warm is calorie-rich” intuition is important for marketers and managers because warm food temperatures can increase willingness to pay (by 25%) and amount served (+27%), as well as influence consumer preferences. This intuition also has important public policy implications: Consumers tend to underestimate the nutritional value of cold foods, resulting in increased consumption of calories (+31%) and fat (+37%).”

Amanda Yamim, Robert Mai, and Carolina Werle.  “Make it Hot? How Food Temperature (Mis)Guides Product Judgments.”  Journal of Consumer Research, in press, https://doi.org/10.1093/jcr/ucaa017

Zwebner and Schrift report on the repercussions of being in view of others while making decisions.  They share that “The present work . . . .[investigates] how consumers react to being observed during the preference-construction stage (i.e., prior to reaching their decision). . . . eight studies . . . find that being observed prior to reaching the decision threatens consumers’ sense of autonomy in making the decision, resulting in an aversion to being observed. Further, we find that such threats lead consumers to terminate their decision by avoiding purchase or by choosing default options. Given the extent to which consumers are observed in the marketplace by other individuals and by online platforms, and given the rise in consumers’ privacy concerns associated with such practices, understanding consumer reactions to being observed in the pre-decisional stage is an important topic with practical implications.”

Yonat Zwebner and Rom Schrift. “On My Own:  The Aversion to Being Observed During the Preference-Construction Stage.  Journal of Consumer Research, in press, http://doi.org/10.1093/jcr/ucaa016

Cho and Suh studied the implications of use of combinations of particular colors in retail environments.  They report that “An environment simulating a hypothetical retail store was developed using a 3D rendering program. . . . When viewing the images, participants were asked to identify which images looked most luxurious. . . . dark colors used in large amounts of surface were perceived as more luxurious than light colors. . . ..  When a relatively large amount of the space is filled with a darker hue, particularly on the floor or main walls, the perceived level of luxury tends to be high. A large amount of space in a dark color is likely to enhance the perception of luxury."

Ji Cho and Joori Suh.  2020.  “Spatial Color Efficacy in Perceived Luxury and Preference to Stay:  An Eye-Tracking Study of Retail Interior Environment.” Frontiers in Psychologyhttps://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.00296

Particular pavement types can increase the probability of flooding.  Blum lead a team that found that “for every percentage point increase of roads, parking lots, and other impervious surfaces, annual floods increase on average by 3.3%. This means that if an undeveloped river basin increases the amount of impervious surfaces from zero to 10%, scientists would expect, on average, a 33% increase in annual flooding. . . . While previous studies have tried to estimate how much impervious surfaces affect flooding, those studies used smaller datasets—looking at only one stream or a small set of streams at a single point in time—that weren't generalizable across the country.  These studies also couldn't isolate the cause-and-effect relationship between impervious surfaces and flood magnitude, Blum says, because they couldn't effectively control for other factors such as climate, dams, and land use. These other factors make it difficult to say how more impervious cover impacts flood magnitude.” This study was published in Geophysical Research Letters.

“More Pavement, More Problems.”  2020.  Press release, Johns Hopkins University(Chanapa Tantibanchachai), https://hub.jhu.edu/2020/03/05/urbanization-increases-annual-flooding/

How interior environments influence virus spread was investigated by Iwasaki, Moriyama, and Hugentobler.  The researchers report that “seasonal moderation of relative humidity — the difference between outside humidity and temperatures and indoor humidity — could be an ally in slowing rates of viral transmission. (Viruses could still be transmitted through direct contact or through contaminated surfaces as humidity rises.) . . . there is a sweet spot in relative humidity for indoor environments, the review found. Mice in environments of between 40% and 60% relative humidity show substantially less ability to transmit viruses to non-infected mice than those in environments of low or high relative humidity. Mice kept at 50% relative humidity were also able to clear an inhaled virus and mount robust immune responses.”

“Hopes of Pandemic Respite This Spring May Depend Upon What Happens Indoors.”  2020. Press release, Yale University (Bill Hathaway), https://news.yale.edu/2020/03/30/hopes-pandemic-respite-spring-may-depend-upon-what-happens-indoors

Weir reports on the findings of numerous studies that have established the psychological value of nature-based experiences.  The material related to experiencing nature while indoors have the widest applicability. Weir states, for example, that “Berman and colleagues found that study participants who listened to nature sounds like crickets chirping and waves crashing performed better on demanding cognitive tests than those who listed to other sounds like traffic and the clatter of a busy café. . . . . [Franz and colleagues] found that any exposure to nature—in person or via video—led to improvements in attention, positive emotions and the ability to reflect on a life problem. . . . [a team lead by White, University of Exeter] concluded that while the real deal is best, virtual reality can be a worthwhile substitute for people who are unable to get outdoors. . . . White and his colleagues found that people who watched nature videos with a diverse mix of flora and fauna reported lower anxiety, more vitality and better mood than those who watched videos featuring less biodiverse landscapes.”

Kirsten Weir. 2020.  “Nurtured by Nature.”  Monitor on Psychology, vol. 51, no. 3, pp. 50-56.

Kohlova and Urban identified a link between green consumption and perceived social status. As they report, they “examine[d] whether a green profile of consumption affects the social status of consumers. . . . results corroborate the expected positive effect of a green profile of consumption on the social status of consumers [more green consumption, higher perceived social status]. . . . our results imply that the explicit monetary cost of green consumption is not a decisive factor conditioning the effect of green consumption on social status. . . .  green consumers appear to external observers as both wealthier and more prosocial [helpful to others]; both these qualities then increase their social status in the eyes of beholders. . . . . inexpensive green consumption increases the social status of consumers by making them appear more prosocial, whereas expensive green consumption increases their social status by making them appear wealthier.”

Marketa Kohlova and Jan Urban.  “Buy Green, Gain Prestige and Social Status.”  Journal of Environmental Psychology, in press, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvp.2020.101416

Dunleavy and colleagues have determined that humans find working underground a more positive experience than might have been anticipated.  Surveying people living in Singapore who worked either above or below ground the team investigated “the prevalence of psychological distress . . . over time in aboveground and underground workspaces. . . .  workers in similar aboveground and underground workspaces were followed-up in three assessments over 12 months. . . .  Perceived IEQ (air quality, temperature, noise, light) in the workplace were collected. . . .  [analyses] did not show any association between working underground and psychological distress. . . . . Underground workspaces were defined as work environments that are below the street level, while aboveground workspaces were on or above the street level. Underground workspaces did not contain a window view of the outdoor environment, while workers in aboveground workspaces varied in their distance and view of a window. Individuals in underground workspaces worked comparable job types (administration, control room and workshop) to those in aboveground workspaces.”

Gerard Dunleavy, Ram Baipal, Andre Tonon, Kei Cheung, Thuan-Quoc Thach, Yuri Rykov, Chee-Kiong Soh, Heinde Vries, Josip Car, and Georgios Christopoulos.  “Prevalence of Psychological Distress and Its Association with Perceived Indoor Environmental Quality and Workplace Factors in Underground and Aboveground Workplaces.”  Building and Environment, in press, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.buildenv.2020.106799

Laski and colleagues wanted to know more about how dynamic retail lighting could influence shopping behavior.  Via eye movement tracking, they studied the implications over time of light intensity staying constant while the color rendering properties of that light changed: “The objective is for these changes to be subtle enough to not be consciously noticed by retail shoppers. . . . use of strategically modulated lighting conditions can, on average, increase shoppers' spatial range of browsing. . . .male subjects exhibited . . . reduced browsing ranges compared to female subjects during the control condition of ‘static’ white lighting. . . . During the dynamic RGB lighting condition, females did not show much change but male subjects increased in browsing range (relative to the male control group) to the point of approaching parity with the female subjects. . . . increasing the spatial range of browsing would be beneficial for both the shopper, who discovers more product options, and for the retailers, to whom what was once less desirable peripheral shelf space might now be considered more valuable.”

Josephi Laski, Charles Brunault, Rebecca Seung, and Cheol Ryu.  2020. “An Exploratory Study of Retail Lighting with Continuous Modulation of Color Rendering Properties to Influence Shoppers’ Spatial Range of Browsing.”  Journal of Business Research, vol. 111, pp. 148-162, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jbusres.2018.10.032

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