Latest Blog Posts
Keijzer and colleagues set out to confirm the health benefits of living near greenspaces. They determined that “More residential surrounding greenspace was associated with lower risk of metabolic syndrome. . . . Metabolic syndrome is an important risk factor for non-communicable diseases, particularly type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, and stroke. . . . The present longitudinal study was based on data from four clinical examinations between 1997 and 2013 in 6076 participants of the Whitehall II study, UK (aged 45–69 years at baseline). Long-term exposure to greenspace was assessed by satellite-based indices of greenspace . . . averaged across buffers of 500 and 1000 m surrounding the participants’ residential location. . . . An interquartile range increase in NDVI [Normalized Difference Vegetation Index] and VCF [Vegetation Continuous Field] in the 500 m buffer was associated with 13% . . . and 14% . . . lower risk of metabolic syndrome, respectively.” Statistical analyses controlled (accounted) for factors such as participant sex, lifestyle factors, and socioeconomic status.
Carmende Keijzer, Xavier Basagana, Cathryn Tonne, Antonia Valentin, Jordi Alonso, Josep Anto, Mark Nieuwenhuijsen, Mika Kivimaki, Archana Sing-Manoux, Jordi Sunyer, and Payam Dadvand. “Long-Term Exposure to Greenspace and Metabolic Syndrome: A Whitehall II Study.” Environmental Pollution, in press, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envpol.2019.113231
Moran determined that nature experiences, “real” or via images, have a restorative effect on people in prison, they seem to reduce their mental fatigue. She reports “results of a survey of prisoners at a large medium-security prison for men in the United Kingdom. It reflects on prisoners' experiences in relation to elements of the environment in which they reside; specifically, outdoor green spaces and green views in the form of whole-wall photographic images of the natural environment. In an otherwise stressful context, such elements were self-reported to enable restorative effects, and to increase feelings of calm, and the ability to reflect.”
Dominique Moran. 2019. “Back to Nature? Attention Restoration Theory and the Restorative Effects of Nature Contact in Prison.” Health and Place, vol. 57, pp. 35-43, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.healthplace.2019.03.005.
Pelowski and colleagues studied how gallery lighting influences appraisals and emotional experience of visual art. They report that when “Participants viewed a selection of original representational and abstract art under three different CCT [temperature] conditions. . . . The selected lighting temperatures were chosen based on an initial investigation of existing art museums within the Vienna area. . . . We also allowed the same participants to set the light temperature themselves in order to test hypotheses regarding what might be an ‘ideal’ lighting condition for art. In Study 2, we explored the question of whether artworks made by an artist to match specific lighting conditions show a resulting connection to the ratings of viewers when shown in the same or different light. Results showed almost no effects from lighting changes in both studies. Viewers’ self-set light temperature (mean = 3777 K) did roughly coincide with the suggested most enjoyable conditions for everyday living and some past research on art viewing, but again showed wide interpersonal variance.”
Matthew Pelowski, AndreaGraser, Eva Specker, Michael Forster, Josefine von Hinuber, and Helmut Leder. 2019. “Does Gallery Lighting Really Have an Impact on Appreciation of Art? An Ecologically Valid Study of Lighting Changes and the Assessment and Emotional Experience With Representational and Abstract Paintings.” Frontiers in Psychology, vol. 10, no. 2148, https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.02148
Garrett and colleagues investigated links between how close people live to the coast and self-reported mental health. They determined that “Living ≤1 km from the coast was associated with better mental health for urban adults. . . . this was only among the lowest-earning households.” Also, “self-reported general health in England is higher among populations living closer to the coast, and the association is strongest amongst more deprived groups. . . . For urban adults, living ≤1 km from the coast, in comparison to >50 km, was associated with better mental health. . . . Stratification by household income revealed this was only amongst the lowest-earning households, and extended to ≤5 km.” This research supports siting homes for lower income groups relatively close to coasts, for example.
Joanne Garrett, Theodore Clitherow, Mathew White, Benedict Wheeler, and Lora Fleming. “Coastal Proximity and Mental Health Among Urban Adults in England: The Moderating Effect of Household Income.” Health and Place, in press, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.healthplace.2019.102200
King and Auschaitrakul evaluated how patterns in the first letters of words in statements influence conclusions drawn; their findings are relevant when brand claims are presented, for example. The researchers determined that “consumers are able to unconsciously perceive the mere sequence of symbols contained in a brand claim, and . . . this sequence information influences judgments of truth. Across three experiments, we showed that when a brand claim is structured in a way that is consistent with the natural sequence of symbols (‘A causes B’ rather than ‘B causes A’), people experience feelings of sequential fluency, which in turn influences judgments of truth. This occurs despite the inability of participants to attribute the true source of the feelings. Our results suggest that carefully designed brand claims are likely to benefit from this natural sequencing.” What these findings mean in practice is that if the first letters of a claim follow alphabetical order then that claim is perceived to be more truthful. An example of a claim in which the words are in alphabetical order: Aspirin beats headaches.
Dan King and Sumitra Auschaitrakul. “Symbolic Sequence Effects on Consumers’ Judgments of Truth for Brand Claims.” Journal of Consumer Psychology, in press, https://doi.org/10.1002/jcpy.1132
Africa, Heerwagen, Loftness, and Balagtas identify ways that biophilic design can support the wellbeing of people and the planet. They report that “Natural settings like landscaped campuses, atria, rooftops, and shoreline esplanades that embody or recall an oasis of ecological normalcy (e.g., the experience of seasons, historical leisure activities or the passage of time) foster psychological stability and anchor resilience. Contact with salutogenic [health and wellbeing supporting] natural elements through views, materials, sounds, and architecture during discrete periods when recreation and relaxation outside are less safe can buffer individual and community stressors. Circadian-effective lighting strategies support overall health and, specifically, help regulate sleep-wake cycles. . . . Communal spaces like green roofs, atria, and gardens are pro-social and encourage social cohesion (Williams, 2017). Relationships developed in these spaces knits a kind of “social infrastructure” that is the warp and weft of resilience and adaptation (Klinenberg, 2018).”
Julia Africa, Judith Heerwagen, Vivian Loftness, and Catherine Balagtas. 2019. “Biophilic Design and Climate Change: Performance Parameters for Health.” Frontiers in Built Environment, vol. 5, no. 28, https://doi.org/10.3389/fbuil.2019.00028
What’s it like to live or work in a tall building, one with 30 or more floors? Ng reviewed “recent empirical studies on occupants’ perception of tall buildings, and physiological and psychological experiences in relation to its tallness. Occupants perceive better view, less noise, and better air quality as benefits for living and working on higher floors than on lower floors. However, occupants also expressed concerns about height, difficulty with vertical transportation, strong wind, and escape in case of fire.”
Cheuk Ng. 2017. “Living and Working in Tall Buildings: Satisfaction and Perceived Benefits and Concerns of Occupants.” Frontiers in Built Environment, vol. 3, no. 70, https://doi.org/10.3389/fbuil.2017.00070
Research conducted by Felix and Cavazotte confirms that workplace personalization can have psychological benefits. The duo report that “Individuals are sometimes unable to realize their callings in their formal careers. . . . We developed a grounded theory regarding how people cope with their unanswered callings through . . . workplace personalization. Our study revealed that through this strategy, individuals retain the aspects of an unanswered calling in their self-concept and then reduce the consequences of not realizing the calling. Some participants enjoy some of the benefits of perceiving a calling, even without performing it in a formal work role. This phenomenon occurs because workplace personalization can be used to represent unanswered callings performed in the past and present, or that are intended to be performed in the future. This form of enactment produces interpersonal and intrapersonal processes that help buffer the negative consequences of not realizing a calling.”
Bruno Felix and Flavia Cavazotte. 2019. “When a Calling Goes Unanswered: Exploring the Role of Workplace Personalizations as Calling Enactments.” Frontiers in Psychology, vol. 10, no. 1940, https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.01940
Stenling and colleagues investigated the effects of climbing stairs on mental performance and mood and their findings generally support design that encourages people to take the stairs. The researchers “examined the effects of stair-climbing intervals on subsequent cognitive performance and mood in healthy young adults [mean age 19]. . . . Participants visited the lab on two occasions, one week apart, and completed one control session (no exercise) and one stair-climbing session (3 x 1 min stair-climbing intervals) with cognitive performance and mood assessed at the end of each session. . . . Participants felt more energetic . . . less tense . . . and less tired . . . following the stair climbing. . . . findings indicate that short bouts of stair climbing in a naturalistic setting can induce cognitive benefits for more challenging tasks, albeit only in males. . . . Short bouts of stair climbing can be a practical approach to increase feelings of energy in daily life.”
Andreas Stenling, Adam Moylan, Emily Fulton, and Liana Machado. 2019. “Effects of a Brief Stair-Climbing Intervention on Cognitive Performance and Mood States in Healthy Young Adults.” Frontiers in Psychology, doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.02300
Schepman and Rodway evaluated meanings attributed to abstract and representational art. Working with adults who were not art experts, they found that meanings attributed to artworks “were shared to a somewhat greater extent for representational art but that meanings for abstract artworks were also shared above baseline. . . . analyses . . . showed core shared meanings for both art types, derived from literal and metaphoric interpretations of visual elements. The findings support the view that representational art elicits higher levels of shared meaning than abstract art.”
Astrid Schepman and Paul Rodway. “Shared Meaning in Representational and Abstract Visual Art: An Empirical Study.” Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, in press, http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/aca0000279