Navigate

The designed environment is a memorable format for  for message hierarchy. Physical space enables people to physically  navigate the architecture of a story, product, or concept in a way that supports understanding and invites participation.

Researchers observed museum visitor patterns in a 2010 study and found that pathways were more theme-driven when displays were clearly identified and clustered by theme. The study also suggested that design elements like color may help reinforce the effects of labeling and clustering; meaning that cues from the designed environment provide subtle guidance to visitors exploring content within a space.

Wineman, J. & Peponis, J. (2010).  Constructing spatial meaning: Spatial affordances in museum design.  Environment and Behavior,  42(1), 86-109.

The humpback whale migrates thousands of miles on a course so straight that it may only stray by a degree or less from the point of departure to the destination.

The humpback whale migrates thousands of miles on a course so straight that it may only stray by a degree or less from the point of departure to the destination.

Social

The designed environment is social and can create opportunities for people to explore and expand ideas together. When used in a self-guided manor, well-designed environments motivate the solo explorer to share their experience with others.

A 2011 study found that people were more likely to share content with others when it was paired with a physiological sensation When study participants absorbed content while running on a treadmill, they were more likely to share the information than when they received it standing still. By nature, exhibits and environments encourage people to interact using multiple senses and to absorb content in novel ways--leading to more sharing during and after the exhibit expereince.

Berger, J. (2011). Arousal increases social transmission of information. Psycological Science. 22(7), 891-893.

The dog's social nature comes from its wolf origins, but dogs have evolved to be so attuned to humans that they understand our gestures and body language.

The dog's social nature comes from its wolf origins, but dogs have evolved to be so attuned to humans that they understand our gestures and body language.

 

 

Memory

Designed environments engage multiple senses, leading to longlasting memories and connections with the content of the space.

A 2014 study found that interacting with an environment through touch is likely to lead people to an enjoyable experience, lasting memories of the experience, and heightened creativity. For marketers, this makes a brand more memorable and associates positive experiences with the brand. For museums, tactile experiences are likely to bring visitors back to the museum for return visits. In any context, tactile, hands-on experiences with products and ideas lead to positive outcomes.

Hee Kim and Shanker Krishnan. 2014. "Where is the Fun in Creativity? The influence of Product Touch or Consumer Creativity." Abstracts, Conference of the Society for Consumer Psychology, March 6-7, Miami.

Squirrels use a combination of smell and memory to locate hidden nuts. They often use landmarks to help themselves remember.

Squirrels use a combination of smell and memory to locate hidden nuts. They often use landmarks to help themselves remember.

 

 

Extend

The participant identifies with the goals of the designed environment and this identification extends the effects of the experience past the time of the visit.

Positive design is a design movement to elevate people’s subjective well-being, or happiness, through design. The practice aims to promote pleasure, virtue, and personal significance in products, applications, services, and spaces. In a 2013 essay on positive design, researchers described additional characteristics of positive design that can be measured through research. One of the most important and measurable characteristics of successful positive design is the long-term effect on well-being or happiness. When designers create opportunities for people to experience delight (pleasure), achieve outcomes that are good for people (virtue), and reach goals (personal significance) through the design of products and spaces, it can improve people’s well-being in the long-term.

Desmet, P. &  Pohlmeyer, A. (2013). Positive design: An introduction to design for subjective well-being. International Journal of Design, 7(3), 5-19.

The giraffe's 21-inch long tongue helps it reach even farther above its 18-foot height.

The giraffe's 21-inch long tongue helps it reach even farther above its 18-foot height.

 

 

Time

An exhibit composition and order by its nature can be assembled by how much time has been given to the experience.

A 2010 study found that when the same traveling exhibit was displayed in different layouts, visitors made more contact with individual displays when they were easily accessible, but spent more time with more exhibits when they were all highly visible from one to the next. This suggests that the layout of space has an impact on the way people explore and interact with it, including the amount of time that they spend doing so.

Wineman, J. & Peponis, J. (2010).  Constructing spatial meaning: Spatial affordances in museum design.  Environment and Behavior,  42(1), 86-109.

Hares can run at speeds up to 45 miles per hour.

Hares can run at speeds up to 45 miles per hour.

 

 

Transform

The designed environment provides a flexible model for structuring information. This multi-leveled effect motivates the user to transform their experience into a desire for more knowledge.

By creating environments that change the way we think, we are able to promote critical thinking. A 2016 study from the University of Cincinnati explores the effects of structured environments on decision-making, and indeed, "causal relationships in environments." The three-part study suggests structured environments encourage more thorough and thoughtful decision-making. The reseearchers emphasize the influence of the surrounding environment on the way people make decisions.

Fuller, D. (2016). New Research Reveals How Structure Increases Careful Thought About Decisions.  [Press release] University of Cincinnati.

Butterflies go through four phases of metamorphosis  during their lives.

Butterflies go through four phases of metamorphosis  during their lives.

FREEDOM

Though a designed environment can be composed and ordered, a person chooses the order in which the experience happens. It gives the person both a sense of freedom and the enjoyment of curation.

Both orderly and disorderly environments have distinct effects on people, and distinct advantages. A 2013 study suggests that people are likely to behave in certain ways, depending on the apparent organization of the space around them. It showed that in orderly environments, people were likely to behave in healthy, generous, and conventional ways, and choose objects labeled as "classic". Disorderly spaces encouraged creativity and led people to choose objects labeled "new." Any of these behaviors could be beneficial, depending on the intent of the space. In either case, the designed environment can encourage behaviors and mindsets, while still giving people the freedom to compose their own experience.

Vohs, K. Redden, J., & Rahinel, R. (2013).  Physical order produces healthy choices, generosity, and conventionality, whereas disorder produces creativity. Association of Psychological Science, 24(9), 1860-1867.

The wandering albatross spends most of its life in flight and can remain at sea for five years without touching down on land.

REFRAME

The designed environment can form or reframe awareness of a topic or idea in a very limited amount of time.

Unlike most forms of media which we can selectively turn on or off, physical space is a medium that we tune into 100% of the time. It’s innate – we’re hardwired to scan our environment for information because it helps us survive. Our surroundings are often mundane, but when we encounter something truly amazing, it triggers emotions ranging from fascination, to curiosity, and even awe. According to psychologists, two things must occur in a person’s mind to experience awe; one, a perception of vastness, and two, a need for accommodation—that is, an opening of the mind to find a place inside where the new experience will fit. Awe-inspiring physical spaces—both natural and designed—open people’s minds to new ideas and new possibilities, helping them to reframe their preconceptions and form lasting memories.

Keltner, D. & Haidt, J. (2003). Approaching awe, a moral, spiritual, and aesthetic emotion. Cognition and Emotion, 17(2), 297-314.

A chameleon can change color in as little as 20 seconds.

A chameleon can change color in as little as 20 seconds.

 

April Zodiac Bonus

In celebration of Earth Day and in anticipation of the new Earth Science exhibit RGI will be installing at NASA Goddard Visitor Center next month, check out this video about the Overview Effect and the life-changing awe of seeing Earth from space.