Mid-January 2017

Labeling Paintings a Good Idea (01-13-17)

Bubic and colleagues found that knowing the name of a painting influences responses to it. Details on their project: “The present study . . . explore[d] the perception of 12 selected abstract and figural Wassily Kandinsky paintings among two groups of participants, one familiarized with the titles prior to viewing the artworks and another unfamiliar with the paintings’ titles. . . . participants who knew the titles prior to viewing the artworks liked both figural and abstract paintings more compared with those unfamiliar with the title. This finding is in accordance with previous studies indicating that providing contextual information may influence viewers’ liking of presented artworks.”  The researchers also report that participants in their study generally preferred “figural over abstract paintings. . . . they reported liking and understanding these paintings better as well as being more emotionally moved by them.”

Andreja Bubic, Ana Susac, and Marijan Palmovic.  “Observing Individuals Viewing Art:  The Effects of Titles on Viewers’ Eye-Movement Profiles.”  Empirical Studies of the Arts, in press.

Changing Habits (01-12-17)

Verplanken and colleagues’ research indicates that we’re more likely to successfully change habits when attempts at the desired modifications are paired with other changes in our lives, such as moving to a new home.  A press release for the upcoming Society of Personality and Social Psychology conference, where Verplanken will discuss his work, reports that this outcome is called the “discontinuity effect.”

“Thinking of Changing Your Behavior in 2017?  Try Moving First.”  2017.  Press release, Society for Personality and Social Psychology, http://spsp.org/news-center/press-release/resolution-habits.

Choosing or Rejecting (01-10-17)

Sokolova and Krishna learned that when people are being asked to make a selection, how that task is described makes a difference.  Their findings, which can be applied by anyone asking others to make choices, are straightforward: “People can make decisions by choosing or by rejecting alternatives. This research shows that changing a task from choice to rejection makes people more likely to rely on deliberative processing, what we label the task-type effect. . . . We show that changing a task from choice to rejection makes people express more consistent preferences between safe and risky options . . . . switching a task from choice to rejection increases the quality of consideration sets in the context of hotel reviews . . . and leads to more rational decisions in the context of cell phone plan selection.”

Tatiana Sokolova and Aradhna Krishna.  2016.  “Take It Or Leave It:  How Choosing Versus Rejecting Alternatives Affects Information Processing.”  Journal of Consumer Research, vol. 43, no. 4, pp. 614-635.

Envy at Work (01-09-17)

Parrott effectively reviews, in the chapter available free at the web address noted below, the repercussions of people being envious in workplaces.  As he details, “there [are] a multitude of . . . ways that a person can be perceived as enjoying advantages. Offices can be bigger or brighter and can have better windows or nicer furnishings. . . . envy can be even more intense when directed horizontally within organizational levels than it is when directed from lower to higher levels. . . . . In the context of organizations, the danger of envy is that it may hurt group performance more than it helps. A recent study of envy in business settings in a variety of Norwegian organizations provided evidence that envy was negatively related to group performance (Thompson, Glasø, & Martinsen, 2015). Envy was negatively correlated with job satisfaction, group cohesion, group performance, and with providing assistance and cooperation to others in the organization. Envy was found to damage relationships within work-groups and to direct energy away from group activities.”

W. Parrott.  2016.  “Being Envied in Organizations.”  In Richard Smith, Ugo Merlone, and Michelle Duffy (eds.), Envy at Work and in Organizations, Oxford University Press, available at http://thepsychologist.bps.org.uk/benefits-and-threats-being-envied-organizations

Shapes Seen: Implications (01-06-17)

Romero and Craig have identified a relationship between shapes seen, thoughts, and money spent.  They report that “Human-like shapes are abundantly present in the marketplace, such as in product shapes (e.g., Coca-Cola bottles) and décor (e.g., mall decorations).  Are these shapes innocuous or do they impact subsequent purchase decisions? . . . We find that when consumers see shapes that resemble a thin human form, they access positive stereotypical knowledge related to a thin weight-group.  Furthermore, across various relevant consumer financial decisions, high-BMI [body mass index] consumers make indulgent spending choices after seeing a thin, human-like shape.”  To clarify, “a shape resembling thin human body types activates concepts [thoughts] related to positive financial outcomes, such as responsibility and hard work.”

Marisabel Romero and Adam Craig.  2016.  “Costly Curves:  How Human-Like Shapes Can Increase Spending.”  Journal of Consumer Research, in press.

Repercussions of Parents’ Concerns About Neighborhoods (01-05-17)

Researchers at Louisiana State University have studied links between parents’ concerns about neighborhoods and the amount of time their children spend playing outdoors.  The scientists report, in a study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, that “parents who are concerned about their neighborhoods restrict their children’s outdoor play. . . . ‘Parents who do not trust their neighbors or feel they have no control over neighborhood problems were more likely to restrict their child’s outdoor play,’ says lead author Maura Kepper, PhD. . . . In this small study, though, the self-reported responses did not seem to indicate that the parents’ concerns altered their children’s physical activity levels. . . . ‘Furthermore, we found that the neighborhood physical environment, such as the presence of graffiti and blighted property in the neighborhood, worsened the problem,’ says Kepper.”

“LSUHealthNO Study 1st to Show Parents’ Concerns About Neighborhood Restrict Kids’ Outdoor Play.”  2017, Press release, Louisiana State University, http://www.lsuhsc.edu/newsroom/Parents'%20Concerns%20Restrict%20Outdoor%20Play.html.

Designing for Pedestrian Safety (01-04-17)

Smart Growth America investigated incidents in which pedestrians were hit by cars and their entire study is available free at the web address noted in the reference, below.  They report that “Multiple studies have found that reducing the number of travel lanes and installing median islands have substantially reduced all crashes, including those that often result in serious injury or death for pedestrians. . . . A Complete Streets approach helps transporta­tion planners and engineers . . . consider how to keep people walking separate from people driving vehicles; keep traffic speeds low; ensure side­walks and curb ramps are accessible to people with disabilities; and clarify where each road user should be expected to travel. . . . planners, landscape architects, and engineers can select from a large set of nationally used appropriate design elements, including but not limited to: wide sidewalks; curb extensions; refuge islands; pedestrian countdown signals; leading pedestrian interval signal timing; midblock crossings (especially at transit stops); pedestrian hybrid beacons; nar­row travel lanes; planting street trees; restricted right turns on red lights; compact intersections; back-in angled parking and smaller curb radii.”

Smart Growth America.  2017.  Dangerous By Design, 2016, https://smartgrowthamerica.org/dangerous-by-design/

Effects of Population Density (01-03-17)

Population density affects how lives are lived.  Sng and his colleagues report that “The world population has doubled over the last half century. . . . Across nations and across the U.S. states . . . we find that dense populations exhibit . . . greater future-orientation, greater investment in education, more long-term mating orientation, later marriage age, lower fertility, and greater parental investment. . . . experimentally manipulating perceptions of high density led individuals to become more future-oriented. . . . experimentally manipulating perceptions of high density seemed to lead to life-stage-specific slower strategies, with college students preferring to invest in fewer rather than more relationship partners, and an older . . . sample preferring to invest in fewer rather than more children.”

Oliver Sng, Steven Neuberg, Michael Varnum, and Douglas Kenrick.  “The Crowded Life Is a Slow Life:  population Density and Life History Strategy.”  Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, in press.

More Arguments for Incorporating Natural Light (12-30-16)

Phan and colleagues discuss health-related benefits of experiencing natural light; their work indicates how important it is to optimize the amount of glare-free natural light that flows into a space.  The researchers report that “Sunlight has important biological effects in human skin. Ultraviolet (UV) light striking the epidermis catalyzes the synthesis of Vitamin D and triggers melanin production. Although a causative element in skin cancers, sunlight is also associated with positive health outcomes including reduced incidences of autoimmune diseases and cancers.”

Thieu Phan, Barbara Jaruga, Sandeep Pingle, Bidhan Bandyopadhyay, and Gerard Ahern.  2016.  “Intrinsic Photosensitivity Enhances Motility of T Lymphocytes.”  Nature, Scientific Reports, vol. 6, article number 39479.

Appeal of Busyness (12-29-16)

Designers developing new places, objects, and services should note that appearing busy is becoming more desirable.  Bellezza and colleagues learned that “a busy and overworked lifestyle, rather than a leisurely lifestyle, has become an aspirational status symbol. A series of studies shows that the positive inferences of status in response to busyness and lack of leisure are driven by the perceptions that a busy person possesses desired human capital characteristics (e.g., competence and ambition) and is scarce and in demand in the job market. This research uncovers an alternative kind of conspicuous consumption that operates by shifting the focus from the preciousness and scarcity of goods to the preciousness and scarcity of individuals.”

Silvia Bellezza, Neeru Paharia, and Anat Keinan.  “Conspicuous Consumption of Time:  When Busyness and Lack of Leisure Time Become a Status Symbol.”  Journal of Consumer Research, in press.

Culture and Preferences (12-28-16)

Torelli and his colleagues researched links between preferred brands and culture.  They learned that “feelings of cultural distinctiveness–feelings of being different and separated from the surrounding cultural environment–influence consumers’ preferences for brands that symbolize a related cultural group (i.e., a group that is geographically proximal and/or shares socio-historical and cultural roots with one's own cultural group). . . .  consumers experiencing cultural distinctiveness are likely to evaluate favorably and prefer brands associated with a related cultural group. . . . This pro-ingroup bias for culturally related brands is driven by a heightened desire to connect with ‘home,’ which prompts consumers to expand their in-group boundaries to include the related cultural group within a broadened definition of home.”  The effect is weakened, however, when rivalries between the geographically or historically/culturally related groups are significant, under those circumstances “experiencing cultural distinctiveness can backfire and result in less favorable evaluations of brands associated with a related cultural group.”

Carlos Torelli, Rohini Ahluwalia, Shirley Cheng, Nicholas Olson, and Jennifer Stoner.  “Redefining Home:  How Cultural Distinctiveness Affects the Malleability of In-Group Boundaries and Brand Preferences.”  Journal of Consumer Research, in press.

Evaluating Servicescapes (12-27-16)

Sheng and colleagues completed a comprehensive evaluation of servicescapes, the physical locations where services are provided.  They found “two . . . multidimensional servicescape satisfaction constructs—labeled perceived nestscape and surroundscape satisfaction. . . . Both perceived servicescape satisfaction constructs positively affected loyalty intentions. The direction of effects . . . was found to emanate from satisfaction with the larger surroundscape to satisfaction with the smaller nestscape rather than the opposite direction. . . . the design dimension contributed the most to perceived nestscape satisfaction, while the social dimension had the greatest influence on surroundscape satisfaction.”

Xiaojing Sheng, Penny Simpson, and Judy Siguaw.  “Communities as Nested Servicescapes.”  Journal of Service Research, in press.

Color and Willingness to Pay (12-23-16)

Lee and colleagues investigated the psychological implications of presenting images in full color or in black-and-white.  As they state, “participants’ visualization of the distant (vs. near) future is increasingly less colorful (i.e., more black and white). . . . marketing messages about distant (vs. near) future events lead to greater willingness to pay when presented alongside black-and-white (vs. color) images.”

Hyojin Lee, Kentaro Fujita, Xiaoyan Deng, and H. Unnava.  “The Role of Temporal Distance on the Color of Future-Directed Imagery:  A Construal-Level Perspective.”  Journal of Consumer Research, in press.

Temperature and Taking Risks (12-22-16)

Syndicus, Wiese, and van Treeck studied how temperature influences decision making, finding that at warmer temperatures people seem to take more risks.  The team reports that when “two groups . . . completed the aforementioned tasks either in a warm (≥ 30°C) or neutral (≤ 25°C) ambient temperature condition. Participants made significantly riskier decisions in the warm ambient temperature condition. . . Especially elevated ambient temperatures should, therefore, be monitored in office environments to prevent impairments of decision making.”

Marc Syndicus, Bettina Wiese, and Christoph van Treeck.  “In the Heat and Noise of the Moment:  Effects on Risky Decision Making.”  Environment and Behavior, in press.

Culture, Symbolism, and Design (12-21-16)

Blending cultural symbols in a single space or object can cause tension.  Yang and his team wondered “When and why do local communities display negative or exclusionary responses to mixing and blending of local and foreign cultural symbols in the same space or percept [whatever is being perceived]?” They found after working with study participants that were either America or Chinese that “the local community reacted most negatively to culture mixing when both objects were perceived to be icons or symbols of their culture of origin . . . [and that] concern about cultural contamination underlies exclusionary responses to culture mixing. We also identified two conditions that can deactivate such responses. First, even when the cultural symbols were presented simultaneously, keeping a distance between them assuages the concern over cultural contamination . . . and reduces the perceivers’ negativity to culture mixing. . . . Second, not attributing cultural symbolism to either cultural object also makes exclusionary responses less likely.”

Daniel Yang, Xia Chen, Jing Xu, Jesse Preston, and Chi-Yue Chiu.  “Cultural Symbolism and Spatial Separation.”  Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, in press.

Neighborhood Conditions and Youth Health (12-19-16)

Voisin and Kim linked neighborhood conditions to the mental health and behaviors of African American youth.  They learned by analyzing data collected from “683 African American youth from low-income communities. . . . that participants who reported poorer neighborhood conditions [i.e. broken windows index] compared to those who lived in better living conditions were more likely to report higher rates of mental health problems, delinquency, substance use, and unsafe sexual behaviors.”

Dexter Voisin and Dong Kim.  “’Broken Windows’:  Relationship Between Neighborhood Conditions and Behavioral Health Among Low-Income African American Adolescents.”  Journal of Health Psychology, in press.

Store Design for Millennials (12-16-16)

Calienes and colleagues studied the design of stores that appeal to Millennials.  They report that  “the store's physical design plays a crucial role in whether a shopper enters a store and engages with a brand. The latest generation of shoppers, the millennials, are a powerful cohort representing 75.4 million individuals in 2016 and accounting for $200 billion in annual consumer spending. Although this generation is well known for online shopping, research has shown that the majority (75%) of their retail dollars are still being spent in brick-and-mortar stores.”  Stores that were appealing to Millennials were organized, clean, projected a relatively lighthearted/humorous approach to making sales, used high quality displays/fixtures, were easy places to find desired merchandise without asking for help, and had a residential feel. White interiors were seen as clean, modern, and upscale by Millennials.

Elizabeth Calienes, Candy Carmel-Gilfilen and Margaret Portillo.  2016. “Inside the Mind of the Millennial Shopper:  Designing Retail Spaces for a New Generation.”  Journal of Interior Design, vol. 41, no. 4, pp. 47-67.


Like the blog posts you’re reading?  Get access to Research Design Connections’ in depth research-based reviews of important design-related topics—and library of over 2,400 past articles on everything from aesthetics to zoo design—by subscribing ($99/yr.) to our monthly magazine at https://researchdesignconnections.com/product/rdc-subscription