Latest Blog Posts
Jachimowicz and colleagues investigated ways to encourage people to use energy more responsibly. Their findings indicate the benefits of being able to communicate Earth-friendly concern to others, via conservation-supportive gas and electric meters that can easily be read by neighbors or similar signaling devices, for example. People are likely to use fewer resources if they believe that their neighbors care about living in a resource-responsible manner. The Jachimowicz-lead team reports that “Recent research suggests that second-order normative beliefs are more powerful predictors of behaviour than first-order personal beliefs. . . . We explored the role that second-order normative beliefs—the belief that community members think that saving energy helps the environment—play in curbing energy use. . . . We found that second-order normative beliefs predicted energy savings but first-order personal beliefs did not. A subsequent . . . experiment provides causal evidence for the role of second-order normative beliefs in predicting energy conservation above first-order personal beliefs. Our results suggest that second-order normative beliefs play a critical role in promoting energy conservation and have important implications for policymakers concerned with curbing the detrimental consequences of climate change.” In summary: we use fewer resources when conservation seems more important to our neighbors.
Jon Jachimowicz, Oliver Hauser, Julia O’Brien, Erin Sherman and Adam Galinsky. 2018. “The Critical Role of Second-Order Normative Beliefs in Predicting Energy Conservation.” Nature Human Behaviour, https://doi.org/10.1038/s41562-018-0434-0
Bouterse and Wall-Scheffler investigated walking speeds in different parts of the world and their findings have implications for the design of circulation spaces such as sidewalks. Their work also indicates how important it can be consider cultural, etc., group membership during the design process. The Bouterse/Wall-Scheffler team reports that “While sex differences in the speed of paired walkers have been established by others, the dynamics of how walkers adjust their speed in more varied groups . . . remains unexplored. . . . we examine walking behavior in the Northwestern United States and in Central Uganda. . . . Our data . . . indicate that Ugandans walk more slowly in groups than when alone, while Americans walk more quickly in groups. . . . Ugandans alone walked faster than Americans alone, even though all group types of Ugandans walked slower than their American counterparts. . . . Ugandans slow down when children are present, while Americans speed up.”
Leah Bouterse and Cara Wall-Scheffler. 2018. “Children Are Not Like Other Loads: A Cross-Cultural Perspective on the Influence of Burdens and Companionship on Human Walking.’ PeerJ, vol. 6, e5547, https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.5547
Trees in schoolyards have again been linked to improved academic performance. Kuo lead a study, published in Frontiers in Psychology, which “investigated the link between greenness and academic achievement in 318 of Chicago’s public elementary schools. The district serves a predominantly low-income minority population with 87 percent of third-graders qualifying for free lunch during the study year (2009-2010). . . . Previous studies have documented a positive relationship between greenness and academic achievement, but, until now, no one had examined the relationship in high-poverty schools. . . . Schoolyard tree cover predicted academic performance. . . . Grass, it turns out, does nothing for learning. . . . schoolyard trees positively predicted math scores. Reading scores tended to be better with more schoolyard trees, but the effect fell just short of statistical significance.” Kuo reports in the press release from the University of Illinois that “’you don’t have to plaster the schoolyard with trees - just bringing schools up to average looks like it could have a substantial effect.’”
“Schoolyard Tree Cover Predicts Math Performance in High-Poverty Urban Schools.” 2018. Press release, University of Illinois, http://news.aces.illinois.edu/news/schoolyard-tree-cover-predicts-math-p...
Zhang and colleagues investigated the effects on cognitive performance of working at a treadmill desk. They tested executive function (specifically, inhibition, updating, and task shifting) when people were sitting, standing, and walking at a treadmill desk at two different speeds (a self-selected speed averaging 2.3 kilometers/hour and a faster one averaging 3.5 kilometers/hour). For more on executive function, read this article: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Executive_functions. The Zhang-lead research team report that the “accuracy of [the updating] task in self-paced walking was significantly lower than that in sitting condition . . . and in standing condition. . . . But there was no difference in accuracy of [updating] task between self-paced walking condition and faster walking condition. . . .walking at an active workstation had a selective impact on the three components of executive function, in which Updating was impaired to a certain extent while Inhibition and Shifting were not affected. Since Updating is highly correlated to the working memory, it is indicated that active workstation use might be more compatible with non-working memory-intensive tasks.” Working memory is reviewed here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Working_memory.
Zhanjia Zhang, Bing Zhang, Chunmei Cao and Weiyun Chen. 2018. “The Effects of Using an active Workstation on Executive Function in Chinese College Students.” PLoS One, https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0197740
Marquet and colleagues link working in a walkable area and employee physical activity. As they report, via a study of employed women with an average age of 53 “wearing a GPS device and accelerometer on the hip for 7 days . . . .[they determined that] working in high walkable environments was associated with higher levels of moderate to vigorous physical activity while at work, and with higher moderate to vigorous physical activity gained within the work neighborhood. Increasing walkability levels around workplaces can contribute to increasing physical activity of employees. . . .this study used objective measures of the environment and accelerometer-measured PA [physical activity] to find that walkability around the workplace is associated with higher amounts of MVPA [moderate to vigorous physical activity] gained in the workplace and within the workplace neighborhood.”
Oriol Marquet, Myron Floyd, Peter James, Karen Glanz, Viniece Jennings, Marta Jankowska, Jacqueline Kerr, and Aaron Hipp. “Associations Between Worksite Walkability, Greenness, and Physical Activity Around Work.” Environment and Behavior, in press, https://doi.org/10.1177/0013916518797165
Nielsen and colleagues studied patient responses to art in hospitals. They conducted “Fieldwork . . . over a two-week period. During the first week, dayrooms were configured without the presence of art and in the second week were configured with the artworks. Semi-structured interviews, observation, participant observation and informal conversation were carried out and were informed by thermal cameras, which monitored the usage, patient occupation and flow in two of the dayrooms. The study shows that art contributes to creating an environment and atmosphere where patients can feel safe, socialize, maintain a connection to the world outside the hospital and support their identity. . . . the presence of visual art in hospitals contributes to health outcomes by improving patient satisfaction as an extended form of health care.”
Stine Nielsen, Lars Eich, Kirsten Roessler, and Michael Mullins. 2017. “How Do Patients Actually Experience and Use Art in Hospitals? The Significance of Interaction: A User-Oriented Experimental Case Study.” International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Health and Well-Being, vol. 12, no. 1, no pagination, doi: 10.1080/17482631.2016.1267343
Donovan and colleagues investigated how tree cover and road density influence academic performance. They “examined the association between individual [pupil]-level standardized . . . reading test scores and exposure to the natural environment using data from Portland Public Schools. . .19,459 students attending 90 schools for the reading model. . . . A 1-SDincrease in tree cover within 100 m[eters] of a child’s school was associated with moving from the 50th percentile to the 56th percentile on reading tests. . . . a 1-SDincrease in road density within 100 m of a child’s home was associated with moving from the 50th percentile to the 47th percentile on reading tests. . . . The magnitude of the association we found between tree cover and reading scores is policy relevant.” “SD” is the abbreviation of “standard deviation;” standard deviations are defined and discussed here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Standard_deviation
Geoffrey Donovan, Yvonne Michael, Demetrios Gatziolis, and Robert Hoyer. “The Relationship Between the Natural Environment and Individual-Level Academic Performance in Portland, Oregon.” Environment and Behavior, in press, https://doi.org/10.1177/0013916518796885
Nute and Chen investigated associations to architectural elements. Participants in their research project looked at line drawings of spaces; findings from a preliminary study indicate that “rooms that include sloping ceilings . . . and views of other spaces are positively associated with feelings of nostalgia. . . and optimism respectively. . . . A sloping ceiling was found to be positively associated with the past in general and with nostalgia in particular. . . .Increasing the size of an internal window into an adjacent room increased positive associations with the future, including feelings of encouragement, looking forward, opportunity, and optimism.”
Kevin Nute and Zhuo Chen. 2018. “Temporal Cues in Built Environments.” The International Journal of the Constructed Environment, vol. 9, no. 1, no pagination, http://doi.org/10.18848/2154-8587/CGP/v09i01/1-18
Boubekri and colleagues make a health-based case for designing access to natural light into structures. As they report, “daylight . . . is vital to our lives. . . . impacting circadian rhythm and . . . producing vitamin D through our skin. . . . buildings play a significant role in controlling how much daylight people are exposed to. . . . Zoning regulations ought to be concerned with the fact that without sufficient daylight in the street, it is not possible to have sufficient daylight inside our buildings. . . . Urban design and urban zoning legislation are as important as the building itself. . . . Building designers and developers need to provide architectural solutions that give building users the opportunity to access unfiltered sunlight by providing balconies and terraces without having to leave the buildings. Only direct contact of the skin with the sun produces the vitamin D levels that we need on a daily basis.”
Mohamed Boubekri, Nastaran Shishegar, and Thulasi Khamma. 2017. “Sustainability with Health in Mind: A Case for Daylighting.” International Journal of the Constructed Environment, vol. 8, no. 2, no pagination, DOI: 10.18848/2154-8587/CGP/v08i02/1-13
Seresinhe, Preis, and Moat wondered what made an outdoor space beautiful. To answer their question the team “explore[d] whether ratings of over 200 000 images of Great Britain from the online game Scenic-Or-Not, combined with hundreds of image features extracted using the Places Convolutional Neural Network, might help us understand what beautiful outdoor spaces are composed of. We discover that, as well as natural features such as ‘Coast’, ‘Mountain’ and ‘Canal Natural’, man-made structures such as ‘Tower’, ‘Castle’ and ‘Viaduct’ lead to places being considered more scenic. Importantly, while scenes containing ‘Trees’ tend to rate highly, places containing more bland natural green features such as ‘Grass’ and ‘Athletic Fields’ are considered less scenic.”
Chanuki Seresinhe, Tobias Preis, and Helen Moat. 2017. “Using Deep Learning to Quantify the Beauty of Outdoor Places.” Royal Society Open Science, vol. 4, no. 170170, DOI: 10.1098/rsos170170