Monday, January 19, 2009

'Space and Place' Studies : Yahoo AnthroDesign Group

Some very interesting resources are shared in regards to finding information out about how physical environments can have an effect on how people behave in the workplace and in are few of the postings..

Posting 1:

You may find some of the work by the Steelcase Applied Research and Consulting (ARC) group relevant. They have studied patterns in the workplace and arrived at set of common business goals, like "foster innovation," "improve communication," and use these as metrics for their projects. For each project, the group conducts workshops, network analysis and participatory design sessions with employees to arrive at a set of design criteria from which a new workplace is built. A few case studies are available at:

Another body of work that Steelcase produced is called Planning Principles and is a little more tacticle about issues like privacy and resource management. The PDFs that summarize each principle may be useful.

There are some interesting case studies on this site..

Posting 2:

Here are a few more books you might find helpful for your project.

Guy, Simon and Elizabeth Shove. A Sociology of Energy, Buildings, and the Environment: Constructing Knowledge, Designing Practice. London; New York: Routledge, 2000.

Shove, Elizabeth. The Design of Everyday Life. Oxford; New York: Berg, 2007.

Nippert-Eng, Christena. Home and Work: Negotiating Boundaries Through Everyday Life. Chicago IL: University of Chicago Press, 1996.

Posting 3:

Link to research paper written about influencing behavior through office design.

Posting 4:

Take a look at some of the publications around behavioral economics. Their work is more about decision-making (and how humans are far from the hyper-rational Homo Economicus of traditional economics) -- but a lot of it is very applicable to habits -- habits after all being a series of repeated decisions.

"Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions" by Ariely (2008)
"Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth and Happiness" by Thaler and Sunstein (2008)
"Why Smart People Do Dumb Things: Lessons from the New Science of Behavioral Economics" by Feinberg (1995).

The other area I'd suggest is the research that's been done on social influence -- especially how it works the unconscious level. It turns out that humans are, to an almost eerie extent, unconsciously influenced by other humans, even when the behaviors are extraordinarily negative (for example, a highly publicized deadly car crash will often be followed by a statistically significant uptick in serious car "accidents"). Influence also works over long time frames (which is how it relates to habits), as in the much-publicized study that showed that people became overweight in groups -- if a person's friends became overweight, the individual was statistically more likely themselves to become overweight. It turns out meme infections are more than a metaphor -- they have a basis in reality.

"Influence: the Science of Persuasion" by Cialdini (2006) and its update: "Influence: Science and Practice" by Cialdini (2008).

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