An Article Review Essay, Research Paper
Introduction In chapter four of Nonverbal Communication: The Unspoken Dialogue deals with some specific channels of communication, namely: Environment, artifacts, and chronemics. In regards to the assignment, the objective of this paper is to find a journal article dealing with research that is complimentary to the information provided in the book. Although all of the channels of nonverbal communication discussed in chapter four were equally fascinating, the focus for the review of a research article is on color in an environment and the effects that it has on the behavior of individuals. The focus of this paper will be on an article that was published in the journal Perceptual and Motor Skills, volume 76, 1993, pages 235-241, titled Effects of Three Colors in an Office Interior on Mood and Performance (see attached copy) by Rebecca A. Ainsworth, LoErna Simpson, and David Cassell. The research focus was to determine the effects of three different hues on test subjects in regards to their performance and mood in an office environment. A single office was used for the experiment where the interior was painted three different times using the colors red (signifying the mood: warm), blue-green (signifying the mood: cool), and white (signifying the mood: neutral).The Hypothesis: The hypothesis of the researchers for the article was as follows, We hypothesized that the red office interior would contribute to higher performance and higher scores on arousal and anxiety than would the white/neutral office interior or the blue-green office interior (Jacobs & Suess, 1975; Walters, et al., 1982), while the white/neutral interior would contribute to higher work performance and higher arousal and anxiety scores but lower depression scores than would the blue-green office. The research for the article was done for several reasons. First, they stated that much research had been done on the effects of color and how it may influence certain behaviors in individuals. The previous research also suggested that color could enhance an individual s mood and productivity. The authors felt that there as been limited research on the effects color may have on an individual in a particular work environment. They further stated that they feel more research should be conducted to support the claims of how color effects the behaviors of individuals in a work environment. Secondly, the authors felt that the research and the general public s belief that the color red influences an individuals activity, aggression, and performance level is scattered and varied and doesn t seem to be supported well. Third, they are basing their research on studies that were conducted by Jacobs and Suess (1975), a research project that found evidence that a red or yellow environment created higher anxiety scores than a blue or green environment; a study by Kwallek, Lewis, and Robins which found that test subject s moods didn t change when they were in a blue or green working environment. The authors felt that none of the previous mentioned studies took into consideration the use of a neutral colored work environment, further supporting the reason for their research project. In addition, they further stated that most work environments are neutral in color and thus felt that the project was important and worthy to explore. The research project involved the following: the subjects, the environment, and the procedure.Subjects:· Total of 45 individuals· All female college students· All having mixed socio-economical backgrounds· All having basic office skills i.e. typing, filing, and phone use· The subjects were broken up into groups of 15Environment:· A single office space used by each subject individually· An office with the dimensions 15 ft. by 10.5 ft. with an 11 ft. ceiling· The office was painted a different color for each group of subjects· First, red (Munsell color 5R5/6)· Second, neutral (Munsell color N9/78.7%R, a slightly grayed white)· Third, blue-green (Munsell color 5BG5/6)· A single Venetian blind colored off-white covering a single window· The blind was closed at all times to control sunlight variations· Two fixtures that provided incandescent lighting, each powered by 300 watts· No attempted to control sound, but the office door was closed during testing· Temperature equaled 77 degrees F plus or minus 8 degrees F· Typical office furniture· One IBM electric typewriter· One touch-tone phoneProcedure: The subjects underwent a pretest and a posttest that measured performance and mood.The test for performance was the result of a pretest and posttest that involved the skill of typing. The subjects underwent a 3 minute pretest and posttest that checked for the total number of words typed, number of errors, and error-to-word ratio. The testing tool to measure mood was that of the Eight State Questionnaire developed by Curran & Cattell (1985) to measure anxiety, depression, and arousal.
The tests and tasks to be accomplished was completed by each individual alone in the office environment. The three groups of 15 underwent the same testing procedures and had to accomplish the same tasks in the same office room. The only difference between the three groups was that of the color of the office environment. The first group of 15 individuals worked in the office when it was painted red, the second group worked in the office room when it was painted white, and the last group of 15 worked in the room when it was painted blue-green. Each individual under went the following procedure that approximately took about an hour to complete per subject:1. Complete the Eight State Questionnaire pretest prior to entering the office.2. Complete a 2 minute warm-up typing exercise that was not scored.3. Complete a scored 3 minute pretest typing exercise.4. Type a 20 minute report.5. Complete a filing exercise of 24 reference cards.6. Place a phone call.7. Complete a 3 minute posttest typing exercise8. Complete the Eight State Questioner posttest while still in the office.Results The results of the research project in all cases of the hypothesis, none were supported. In the areas of testing the two dependent variables of performance and mood there was little variation of change in the pretest and of the posttest results. Ainsworth, Simpson, and Cassell concluded that the color of the working environment didn t influence the subject s mood or performance in this particular study. The implications of the research was that it supported the results of a previous research project conducted by Kwallek (1988) which found evidence that suggested the difference of color in a working environment didn t produce significant changes in an individuals mood. Ainsworth, Simpson, and Cassell s results also contrasted with some other studies conducted prior to their project. The research projects conducted by Walters (1982) and Jacobs & Suess (1975) both suggested that color did have an effect on an individual s mood. The authors of this research project did note that the difference in the contrasting studies could be the results of the researchers of this project used different testing methods and tools while conducting the experiment.Conclusion This particular research project lacked a consistency in testing in one particular area i.e. The Eight State Questionnaire. The pretest of the questionnaire should have been administered inside the working environment to keep consistent with the posttest that was given within the same room. The rationale behind this comment is that if one is testing to see if it s color that influences an individual s behavior, then one should try to rule out all the other variables that come into play. If the pretest would have been given in the same room as the posttest, then one would have a base line to compare results of the study. One has to ask, what was the color of the room that the pretest was given? How were conditions in the other rooms? Was lighting, sound, space, artifacts, etc. considered or controlled in the room that the pretest was given in? On the other hand, if both of the tests were given in the same room and showed significant variations in the results, one would have to consider was it the color of the room that brought about the results or was it perhaps the tasks that may have brought about the results? This would constitute another experiment whereas the tasks would be changed to that of a remedial nature and not stress the importance of accuracy, such as typing. If the results didn t change, then one could postulate and/or suggest that color of the working environment does influence an individual s mood and performance. The study lacked several things that are essential for a successful research project i.e. duration of the study, sample size, and considerations of the characteristics of the sample subjects. The authors agree that the study should have been longer than one hour per individual and should have covered a longer span of time rather than just one day and one encounter of the working environment. The authors also agree that the sample size was probable not big enough to get a noticeable measurable difference in the testing results. The fact the authors didn t take into consideration the effects of color and how it influences the behavior of both sexes, but rather just one. They neglected to add a equal proportion of male subjects to their study. Leaving an entire sex out of a study would bring inconclusive results and possible be perceived as discriminating one sex and stereotyping another.