Prior state matters, a lot
Research Design Connections
Younger children may be less distractable than other people
Not everyone's sensory systems are the same
Living near a major road may harm our mental wellbeing
Different places on the planet => different preferences
Batra and his colleagues investigated the relationship between tasting spicy food or seeing spicy food and how aggressive people are. They found that “consumption of, and even mere exposure to spicy food [seeing pictures of it, for example], can semantically activate concepts related to aggression as well as lead to higher levels of perceived aggressive intent in others.” These findings indicate that care should be exercised when using images of spicy foods to decorate spaces, etc.
Hearing nature sounds does indeed relax people who are stressed. Van Praag and her team report that their “findings may help explain reported health benefits of exposure to natural environments, through identification of alterations to autonomic activity and functional coupling within the DMN [default mode network of the brain] when listening to naturalistic sounds.” Natural sounds that are relaxing include, for example, gently moving water (think: burbling brooks) and leaves rustling in a gentle breeze.
Trying to solve a difficult problem? Imagine a dialogue between people with various viewpoints on the issue to be resolved—that fantasy conversation will dramatically increase your understanding of relevant topics (Zavala and Kuhn, in press).
Schutte and her team have learned that time spent in virtual reality nature, compared to time spent in virtual reality urban spaces, can lead to better moods. Also, people who experience virtual reality nature believe that they are more refreshed mentally (in other words, that they are more cognitively restored) after spending time there than the people placed in the virtual urban places. The researchers immersed users in 360-degree natural or urban interactive virtual environments and learned that “Virtual reality experience of a natural environment compared to virtual reality experience