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.
Song and Gao investigated how wellbeing is influenced by telework; their findings will interest people developing and managing workplaces. Specifically, Song and Gao probed “how subjective well-being varies among wage/salary workers between working at home and working in the workplace. . . . We find that compared to working in the workplace, bringing work home on weekdays is associated with less happiness, and telework on weekdays or weekends/holidays is associated with more stress. The effect of working at home on subjective well-being also varies by parental status and gender. Parents, especially fathers, report a lower level of subjective well-being when working at home on weekdays but a higher level of subjective well-being when working at home on weekends/holidays. Non-parents’ subjective well-being does not vary much by where they work on weekdays, but on weekends/holidays childless males feel less painful whereas childless females feel more stressed when teleworking instead of working in the workplace.”
Younghwan Song and Jia Gao. 2019. “Does Telework Stress Employees Out? A Study on Working at Home and Subjective Well-Being for Wage/Salary Workers.” Journal of Happiness Studies, https://doi.org/10.1007/s10902-019-00196-6
Chew, Lambiase, and colleagues studied physiological and emotional variations from one person to another in responses to music heard. Their work indicates that someone can “Play the same piece of music to two people, and their hearts can respond very differently. . . . patients with mild heart failure requiring a pacemaker were invited to a live classical piano concert. . . . Professor Chew said: ‘Even though two people might have statistically significant changes across the same musical transition, their responses could go in opposite directions. So for one person the musical transition is relaxing, while for another it is arousing or stress inducing.’ For example: a person not expecting a transition from soft to loud music could find it stressful, leading to a shortened heart recovery time. For another person it could be the resolution to a long build-up in the music and hence a release, resulting in a lengthened heart recovery time.”
Sophia Antipolis. “Every Heart Dances to a Different Tune.” Press release, European Society of Cardiology, https://www.escardio.org/The-ESC/Press-Office/Press-releases/Every-heart...
Malafouris’ work highlights the psychological implications of the things that fill our world. As he reports, “We think ‘with’ and ‘through’ things, not simply ‘about’ things. . . . to think and to feel, we need more than a brain. Brain regions work in concert, but they are never alone; rather, they are always parts of broader systems extending beyond skin and skull. . . . New artifacts create novel relations and understandings of the world. New materialities bring about new modes of acting and thinking. . . . The claim is that things actively participate in human cognitive life or that human thinking is better described as thinging. We think with and through things, not simply about things. In particular, for the material-engagement approach, withness and throughness take precedence over aboutness.. . . We create new things, embodied practices, and material cultures, which in turn make up our minds and constitute ourselves.”
Lambros Malafouris. 2020. “Thinking as ‘Thinging’: Psychology With Things.” Current Directions in Psychological Science, vol. 29, no. 1, pp. 3-8, DOI: 10.1177/0963721419873349
Taylor and Butts-Wilmsmeyer studied kindergarten students’ ability to self-regulate their behavior after spending class time in green schoolyards. The researchers found via data collected at several schools that “girls in classes engaging in curriculum in greenspaces daily [for a minimum of 30 or 60 minutes, depending on the season] scored higher on measures of self-regulation post-intervention, controlling for baseline scores, than did girls engaging at a low frequency [once weekly for 60 minutes or less]. Furthermore, students who spent more minutes in greenspaces weekly tended to score higher post-intervention, although this relationship was more consistent for girls than boys. Results suggest that green schoolyards support children's self-regulation development, and the higher the frequency of visits, and the more minutes weekly, the greater the gains. . . . behavioral self-regulation is broadly defined as including ‘both top-down planning processes (e.g., executive functions or EF) and bottom-up regulation of more reactive impulses’ (McClelland et al., 2014, p. 2). EF includes attentional or cognitive flexibility, working memory, and inhibitory control (McClelland et al., 2014).” The researchers report that self-regulation as a young child has been tied to later-in-life academic success and wellbeing.
Andrea Taylor and Carrie Butts-Wilmsmeyer. “Self-Regulation Gains in Kindergarten Related to Frequency of Green Schoolyard Use.” Journal of Environmental Psychology, in press, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvp.2020.101440
Galoni, Carpenter, and Rao investigated the sorts of choices people make when they are concerned about potentially catching a contagious disease. They determined “that contagious disease cues [such as hearing someone cough] can also elicit fear. Across four experiments and two large empirical data analyses of the presence of contagious disease on actual consumption behavior, we find that cues of contagious disease increase both fear and disgust, and these emotions together form a unique behavioral tendency with respect to consumer behavior. Relative to either emotion alone, disgust and fear increase preference for more familiar products asymmetrically over less familiar ones.”
Chelsea Galoni, Gregory Carpenter, and Hayagreeva Rao. “Afraid and Disgusted: Consumer Choices Under the Threat of Contagious Disease.” Journal of Consumer Research, in press, https://doi.org/10.1093/jcr/ucaa025
Marks and Goldhagen circulated, via the Association for Neuroscience for Architecture (ANFA) mailing list, a report on ANFA’s last conference, held in 2018 in San Diego. They share that Alex Coburn (UC San Francisco School of Medicine) reported that “scaling architecture incrementally with fractally-inspired patterns of leaves and ocean waves corresponds with improved memory and mood. . . . Casey Lindberg, a researcher at HKS and the University of Arizona Institute on Place, examined 230 people over three days and two nights, doing different work assignments across different sites and different offices. . . . The study data found from recording heart electrical activity that there was a positive correlation between office participants feeling relaxed and experiencing a conference room conversation below ~ 51 decibels. . . . A team from the ETH Laussane concluded, from classroom volunteers who wore glasses equipped with spectrometers and headbands measuring RGB primary colors, vertical luminous and radiance, that red-impoverished light is more effective in stimulating children’s attention than neutral daylight (due to a concentrated blue, short-wavelength of light that suppresses the hormone melatonin).” ANFA's 2020 meeting will be in September.
Frederick Marks and Sarah Goldhagen. 2020. “Shared Behavioral Outcomes Linked to Brain Research.” ANFA September 20-22, 2018 International Conference; Salk Institute for Biological Studies, La Jolla, CA, USA.
Xu and teammates conducted a multisensory analysis of how context influences impressions of chocolate ice cream eaten. They determined that “When ice cream was consumed in the café, it was associated with . . . a sweet taste/flavour. When consumed in the university study area, it was correlated with . . . cocoa and milky flavours. Consumption at the city bus stop was correlated with . . . roasted and bitter tastes/flavours. The laboratory environment was only correlated with the attributes . . . creamy flavour. SC [skin conductance] was significantly increased in the university study area as compared to the laboratory, and HR [heart rate] was significantly decreased in the university study area environment as compared to the bus stop. . . . The café soundscape had the highest sharpness, tonality, and fluctuation strength values as compared to the bus stop, university study area and laboratory environments. In addition, the bus stop soundscape had the highest roughness followed by café, laboratory and the university study area environments.”
Yun Xu, Nazimah Hamid, Daniel Shepherd, Kevin Kantono, and Charles Spence.2019. “Changes in Flavour, Emotion, and Electrophysiological Measurements When Consuming Chocolate Ice Cream in Different Eating Environments.” Food Quality and Preference, vol. 77, pp. 191-205, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foodqual.2019.05.002
Pierguidi and colleagues investigated differences in the environments in which people may prefer to drink cocktails; their findings are relevant to the design of any spaces where alcohol may be consumed. The team determined that “thematic clusters [of study participants] were identified. . . . Theme 1: RELAX: this cluster focuses on an experience of relaxation, comfort (with the characteristic lemmas: /not too noisy/, /nicely/, /suffuse light/, /intimate/) and on the social dimension (/chatting/). These individuals describe their preferred context as a not too crowded situation, with sofas, soft background music and with the possibility of eating something (/buffet/). Theme 2: SOCIABILITY: this cluster focuses mostly on the social aspects of cocktail consumption. . . . their preferred context as a party or a disco at night where they can seek new experiences. Feelings such as /cheerfulness/ and /carefree/ are also related to their preferred context. Theme 3: APERITIF: this cluster focuses on a before dinner situation (e.g. /aperitif/, /evening/, /friends/). They describe their preferred context as an open-air popular place or a home situation where they can meet friends to recover from work.”
Lapo Pierguidi, Sara Spinelli, Caterina Dinnella, John Prescott, and Erminio Monteleone. “Sensory Acceptability and Personality Traits Both Determine Which Contexts are Preferred for Consumption of Alcoholic Cocktails.” Food Quality and Preference, in press, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foodqual.2020.103978
Sando and Sandseter evaluated how the design of outdoor spaces at early childhood education and care (ECEC) institutions influences children’s (3-4 year old’s) wellbeing (feeling at ease and self-confident, for example) and health (via physical activity). They collected data at 8 ECEC institutions ranging from “small urban environments with mainly asphalt and rubber surface to large (13 000 square meters) natural environments.” The researchers report that “The importance of promoting a wide range of play activities is demonstrated by the finding that many episodes happened within a symbolic . . . and risky play context. . . . quantitative analysis identified fixed functional equipment and pathways as places that were positively associated with high well-being and physical activity. . . . The pathways could function as a running track, road for cars or a cycling track, depending on the play context and the child's intentions. . . episodes of high well-being and physical activity happen in a variety of places. Having access to different places, smaller and bigger, closed and open, natural and built environments seems to be beneficial. . . .objects are not a necessity for children to experience well-being in physically active play.”
Ole Sando and Ellen Sandseter. “Affordances for Physical Activity and Well-Being in the ECEC Outdoor Environment.” Journal of Environmental Psychology, in press, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvp.2020.101430