Latest Blog Posts
Astell-Burt and Feng linked the mental and physical health of city-dwelling people over 45 years old to the extensiveness of the tree canopies and the amount of grass near their homes. They determined that “exposure to 30% or more tree canopy compared with 0% to 9% tree canopy was associated with 31% lower odds of incident psychological distress, whereas exposure to 30% or more grass was associated with 71% higher odds of prevalent psychological distress after adjusting for age, sex, income, economic status, couple status, and educational level. Similar results were found for self-rated fair to poor general health but not physician-diagnosed depression or anxiety. . . . Protection and restoration of urban tree canopy specifically, rather than any urban greening, may be a good option for promotion of community mental health.” More details on the study: “Percentage of total green space, tree canopy, grass . . . [was] measured within 1.6-km (1-mile) road network distance buffers around residential addresses at baseline.”
Thomas Astell-Burt and Xiaogi Feng. 2019. “Association of Urban Green Space with Mental Health and General Health Among Adults in Australia.” JAMA Network, vol. 2, no. 7, e198209, doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2019.8209
Mastandrea, Wagoner, and Hogg looked at links between where people live and art preferences. They learned that when “American and Italian participants evaluated two pieces of abstract art and two pieces of representational art that were attributed to fictional American or Italian artists. The key prediction, that participants would evaluate pieces of art, specifically abstract art, more favorably if the artist was a conational than a national outgroup member, was supported, but only among American participants (the Americans had less art-related experience and were more aesthetically uncertain than the Italians). Americans liked American art more than Italian art, American art was liked more by Americans than Italians, and the preference for representational over abstract art disappeared among Americans evaluating American art.”
S. Mastandrea, J. Wagoner, and M. Hogg. “Liking for Abstract and Representational Art: National Identity as an Art Appreciation Heuristic.” Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity and the Arts, in press, http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/aca0000272
Melissa Piatkowski, Addie Abushousheh, and Ellen Taylor have written the whitepaper “Healthcare at Home,” which is available to all at the Center for Health Design website indicated below. This useful, comprehensive text is described on the noted website: “Within the past decade, advances in medical technology, changes in reimbursement structures, the desires and complex care needs of an aging population, and innovative care delivery models have initiated a shift from providing care in hospitals to outpatient settings. And more recently, the acceleration and amplification of these factors is pushing healthcare options . . . towards acute and subacute care in the home. . . .While this paper aims to present the salient research on design strategies that specifically facilitate healthcare at home, this is an emerging area. . . . Because Aging in Place and Universal Design approaches are highly relevant to the provision of healthcare at home, this paper draws largely from evidence in these two areas.” Topics covered range from building and room layout to flooring to lighting to home aesthetics. This whitepaper is particularly important because “there is an opportunity to shift thinking in typical residential design towards a more sustainable concept of home – how home can support health and healing.”
Our attitudes towards nature evolve over our lives. Meidenbauer and colleagues found that “Children aged 4-11 years do not show the preference for nature [over urban spaces] found in adults [children demonstrated robust preferences for urban over natural environments]. With age, children’s preferences for urban over natural environments decrease. More nearby nature is associated with fewer attention problems in children. The observed attentional benefits are unrelated to the children’s preferences. Children’s preferences were not linked to their home, school or play environments. . . . both adults and children show cognitive and affective [emotional] benefits after nature exposure.
Kimberly Meidenbauer, Cecilia Stenfors, Jaime Young, Elliot Layden, Kathryn Schertz, Omid Kardan, Jean Decety, and Marc Berman. “The Gradual Development of the Preference for Natural Environments.” Journal of Environmental Psychology, in press, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvp.2019.101328
Video links to the 2018 and 2019 sessions of the Architecture-For-Health lecture series, hosted by Texas A &M University (College of Architecture and Health Science Center School of Public Health), are now available without charge at https://www.pbs.org/show/texas-architecture-for-health/. As indicated on the linked to website: “Leading healthcare designers and administrators will explore the built environment’s effect on health and hospital facility design in the Architecture-For-Health Lecture Series at the Texas A&M College of Architecture.”
Our physical environment influences our cravings for alcohol, cigarettes, and harmful foods. Researchers have determined that “Green views were inversely associated with craving strength and frequency. . . . Access to a garden/allotment was inversely associated with craving. . . . Access to gardens/allotments and residential views incorporating more than 25% greenspace were both associated with reductions in the strength and frequency of cravings.” This study has important public health implications and the links between exposure to nature and reduced cravings can reasonably be assumed to be present in other space types, such as workplaces.
Leanne Martin, Sabine Pahl, Mathew White, and Jon May. “Natural Environments and Craving: The Mediating Role of Negative Affect.” Health and Place, in press, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.healthplace.2019.102160
Sinclair and colleagues investigated the implications of listening to music. They report that “Music streaming, structured by an expanding network of social interdependencies (e.g. musicians, sound engineers, computer scientists and distributors) has made it easier to consume music in a wider number of social and private spaces and to a greater degree. . . . We argue that music is used to demarcate, transition between, and blur space. Music plays an important role in facilitating the rhythm of routine, helping individuals to adjust to the demands of different spaces (based on varying intensities and immediacies of social pressures) and manage mood.”
Gary Sinclair, Julie Tinson, and Paddy Dolan. 2019. “Music in the Time-Spectrum: Routines, Spaces and Emotional Experience.” Leisure Studies, vol. 38, no. 4, pp. 509-522, https://doi.org/10.1080/02614367.2019.1597147
Khan, McGeown, and Bell studied primary school learning environments in Bangladesh. They share that at “the intervention school, a barren school ground was redesigned with several behavior settings (e.g., gardens and amphitheater) for teaching and learning. Treatment group children . . . received math and science classes outdoors, while a comparison group . . . received usual indoor classes. . . . The redesigned school ground was associated with higher levels of academic attainment. Furthermore, all intervention schoolchildren perceived more opportunities to explore in the redesigned school ground.” Children taught outdoors performed better on exams than children taught indoors.
Matluba Khan, Sarah McGeown, and Simon Bell. “Can an Outdoor Learning Environment Improve Children’s Academic Attainment? A Quasi-Experimental Mixed Methods Study in Bangladesh.” Environment and Behavior, in press, https://doi.org/10.1177/0013916519860868
Li, Chen, and Zhang investigated links between music tempo, fatigue, and attention. As they report, “drivers were enrolled in four sessions of real-road driving tests under the following four music conditions: no music, slow tempo, medium tempo and fast tempo. . . . Of the three tempos, medium-tempo music is the best choice to reduce fatigue and maintain attention for a long-distance driving. Slow-tempo music can temporarily boost the quality of attention, but after a long period of driving, it significantly deteriorates the driver’s levels of fatigue and attention. Fast-tempo music helps relieve driver fatigue but significantly deteriorates drivers’ attention after an extended driving time.” The researchers describe music listened to by study participants: “We selected three versions [of the same song], which corresponded to our slow-tempo (40–70 bpm [beats per minute]), medium-tempo (85–110 bpm) and fast-tempo (> 120 bpm) categories. . . . the tempos of these remixes were 42, 92 and 122 bpm, respectively.”
Rui Li, Yingjie Chen, and Linghao Zhang. “Effect of Music Tempo on Long-Distance Driving: Which Tempo is the Most Effective at Reducing Fatigue?” i-Perception, in press, https://doi.org/10.1177/2041669519861982
Forder and Lupyan studied perception of colors. They report that “simply hearing color words enhances categorical color perception, improving people’s accuracy in discriminating between simultaneously presented colors in an untimed task. Immediately after hearing a color word participants were better able to distinguish between colors from the named category and colors from nearby categories. Discrimination between typical and atypical category members was also enhanced. Verbal cues slightly decreased discrimination accuracy between two typical shades of the named color. . . . The finding that color words strongly affect color discrimination accuracy suggests that categorical color perception may be caused by color representations being augmented in-the-moment by language.”
Lewis Forder and Gary Lupyan. 2019. “Hearing Words Changes Color Perception: Facilitation of Color Discrimination by Verbal and Visual Cues.” Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, vol. 148, no. 7, pp. 1105-1123, http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/xge0000560