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Urban Design in China and Activity (02-06-15)

The design of Chinese cities affects the level of physical activity of people living in them, according to an article published in Preventative Medicine.  This study is interesting because it replicates findings from Western countries.  Researchers at New York University and East China Normal University report that  “Chinese cities are different from many Western cities in relation to urban design, and far more densely populated. . . .

Blue Light and Men’s Appetites (02-05-15)

Blue light seems to curb men’s appetites, but not women’s.  Cho and his team report that “One-hundred twelve participants (62 men and 50 women) were asked to consume a breakfast meal (omelets and mini-pancakes) under one of three different lighting colors: white, yellow, and blue. . . . . The blue lighting significantly decreased the amount consumed in men, but not in women, compared to yellow and white lighting conditions. Overall flavor intensity and overall impression of the food were not significantly different among the three lighting colors. . . .

Awe and Inflammation (02-04-15)

Stellar and her colleagues have linked feeling awe with lower inflammation levels throughout the body.  As they report “awe, measured in two different ways, was the strongest predictor of lower levels of proinflammatory cytokines.”  This is important because “Chronically elevated levels of proinflammatory cytokines in the absence of illness or injury can lead to negative health outcomes. . . .

Jacobs' Work Supported (02-03-15)

Sung and colleagues have documented the value of Jane Jacobs' work.  As they report: “Jane Jacobs’s The Death and Life of Great American Cities (1961) had an enormous influence on urban design theories and practices. This study aims to operationalize Jacobs’s conditions for a vital urban life. These are (1) mixed use, (2) small blocks, (3) aged buildings, and (4) a sufficient concentration of buildings. Jacobs suggested that a vital urban life could be sustained by an urban realm that promotes pedestrian activity for various purposes at various times. . . .

Treadmill Desks: More Positive Research (02-02-15)

More research, more reasons for treadmill desks.  Labonte-LeMoyne and her team report that “An experiment was conducted in which participants either sat or walked while they read a text and received emails. Afterward, all participants performed a task to evaluate their attention and memory. Behavioral, neurophysiological, and perceptual evidence showed that participants who walked had a short-term increase in memory and attention, indicating that the use of a treadmill desk has a delayed effect.

Weather and Investing (01-30-15)

Research indicates that weather can still be a driving force influencing trading decisions.  Goetzmann and his colleagues learned that “weather-based indicators of mood impact perceptions of mispricing and trading decisions of institutional investors. . . . relatively cloudier days increase perceived overpricing in individual stocks and the Dow Jones Industrial Index and increase selling propensities of institutions.”  So, institutional investors may be more likely to be interested in buying on sunny days and selling on cloudy ones.

Pleasant Smells and Perceived Attractiveness (01-29-15)

Research recently completed at the Monell Chemical Senses Center indicates just how important scents are, and why perfume can be such a good investment.  A press release from this prestigious and independent nonprofit research institute, reporting research published in PLoS ONE, states that “women’s faces are rated as more attractive in the presence of pleasant odors. In contrast, odor pleasantness had less effect on the evaluation of age.

Anxious and Unethical (01-28-15)

Kouchaki and Sreedhari linked feeling anxious to unethical behavior.  This study is interesting to designers, in part, because one of the ways that the researchers induced anxiety was through music, a sensory experience.  As Kouchaki and Sreedhari report, “People often experience anxiety in the workplace. . . . anxiety . . . can lead to self-interested unethical behavior. . . . anxiety increases threat perception, which, in turn, results in self-interested unethical behaviors.”

Office Noise (01-27-15)

Pierrette and colleagues, while developing a survey that can be used to assess worker response to the soundscape in their workplace, determined that “It is currently accepted that noise is one of the most important annoyance factors in open-space offices. However, noise levels measured in open [work] spaces . . . rarely exceed 65 dB(A). . . . The majority of . . .  respondents consider that the ambient noise level in their environment is high. . . .

Designing Neighborhoods to Encourage Physical Activity (01-26-15)

Adlakha and his colleagues have researched neighborhood features that encourage walking, confirming many findings from earlier studies.  They determined via telephone interviews, that “In home neighborhoods, seven . . .  BE [built environment] features (availability of fruits and vegetables, presence of shops and stores, bike facilities, recreation facilities, crime rate, seeing others active, and interesting things) were associated with leisure PA [physical activity]. . . .