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Research To Boost Creativity, Raise the Roof Higher ceilings may do more than create a sense of spatial openness. They may also open people's minds to new ideas, say researchers Rui "Juliet" Zhu, assistant professor of marketing at the Sauder School of Business at the University of Brit- ish Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, and Joan Meyers- Levy, professor of marketing at the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. In their paper, "The Influence of Ceil- ing Height: The Effect of Priming on the Type of Processing People Use," the researchers found that the higher a room's ceiling, the better people can conceive abstract and creative ideas. Zhu and Meyers-Levy ran their Joan Meyers-Levy experiment with 170 participants. They placed one group in a room with 10-foot ceilings and asked them to solve anagrams that repre- sented freedom-related target words (such as "free" and "open") and confinement-related target words (such as "limited" and "constraint"). Participants also created categories for specific types of items, such as fruit. A second group performed the same tasks in the same room; however, this time the room had been equipped with a dropped ceil- ing, which reduced ceiling height to 8 feet. The researchers found that the high-ceiling group responded faster and thought in more abstract terms 58 BizEd JULY/AUGUST 2007 Rui "Juliet" Zhu than the low-ceil- ing group. "Those in the high-ceiling room responded faster to the freedom-related words," says Zhu. "Those in the high- ceiling room also were more likely to generate abstract criteria in the fruit categorization task, such as nutrition level and shape." Meyers-Levy first became interested in the topic when she boarded an airplane and noticed how the confined space negatively affected her mood. She and Zhu were both surprised to find few or no studies on the topic. The two hope that their work will not only be useful in the design of residential, commercial, and educational spaces, but also encourage more studies on the effects of space on human health and safety. Their paper will appear in the August issue of the Journal of Consumer Research. Want to Know the Weather? Check the Markets Economists at Penn State's Smeal College of Business and College of Earth and Mineral Sci- ences have part- nered in an unusu- al study: to see whether the futures market could be used to predict weather events. So far, these researchers have found the markets to be as accurate at predict- ing the weather as major forecast- ing services such as AccuWeather, the BBC, CNN, and the U.S. National Weather Service. Smeal's Laboratory for Econom- ics Management and Auctions is currently in the midst of its two-year experiment that has been funded by the National Weather Service. In the experiment, business and meteorolo- gy students use allotted funds to bet on what they believe the high and low temperatures will be in differ- ent U.S. cities on a given day. As the going rates for various temperatures fluctuate within the market, the researchers can weight the market's confidence in what temperatures will be reached. For instance, the markets for March 8 were focused on Tucson, Arizona. Students could buy or sell contracts betting on a high temper- ature of 74 degrees or less, 75 to 76 degrees, 77 to 78 degrees, 79 to 80 degrees, 81 to 82 degrees, or 83 degrees or more. If a participant thought the temperature would be 81 degrees on March 8, he would offer to buy an 81- to 82-degree contract for a price of up to $1. How close to $1 he offered repre- sented his confidence in his predic- tion. A seller could then accept or reject the offer.

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