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Neal probed factors that influence people’s satisfaction with their neighborhood and his findings are published in Urban Studies.  Neal determined that “’Contrary to what many would think, characteristics of your neighborhood have little to do with how satisfied you are with it’ [quote attributed to Neal]. . . . Neal’s research revisited findings from 27 earlier studies that spanned 11 countries in North America, Europe and Asia, and included a sample of more than 250,000 adults living in those neighborhoods. . . . By combining each study’s estimate using meta-analysis, Neal computed a more precise estimate of the true impact of neighborhoods. He found that all the characteristics of a community neighborhood — from curb appeal to its services, like snow plowing — account for just about 16% of a person’s satisfaction with the neighborhood.”

“It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood . . . Or Is It?”  2020.  Press release, Michigan State University,

Zhang and Zhang investigated ties between spatial size and assessments of wealth.  They report that they “explored whether social categorization based on wealth, which is an important dimension of social categorization, involved perceptual simulation of spatial size. . . . three experiments showed that responses to wealth-related stimuli in larger font were faster relative to those to the same stimuli in small font, and vice versa for poverty-related stimuli. These results suggest that social categorization based on wealth is grounded in perceptual simulation of spatial size.”

Xiaobin Zhang and Zhe Zhang. “Spatial Size Can Affect Social Categorization of the Rich and the Poor.”  Frontiers in Psychology, in press, doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.01914

Man, Zhu, and Sun investigated how workplace accommodations influence employee creativity.  As the researchers report, “In the workplace, not only employees with disabilities ask for workplace accommodation to better perform in the job but also the older workers, pregnant women, and employees with religious needs and with family responsibilities need workplace accommodations.”  Workplace accommodations were defined by Man, Zhu, and Sun as they were by Colella and Bruyere (2011, p. 478): “’modifications in the job, work environment, work process, or conditions of work that reduce physical and social barriers so that people with disabilities experience equal opportunity in a competitive work environment.’” Man’s team determined that “workplace accommodation promotes employee creative performance. . . . the positive relationship . . . [is] stronger for employees with a lower level of disability severity. . . . workplace accommodation is not only essential for including employees with disabilities but also helpful in boosting the creative performance of all employees.”

Xiangyu Man, Xiji Zhu, and Cong Sun.  2020.  “The Positive Effect of Workplace Accommodation on Creative Performance of Employees With and Without Disabilities.”  Frontiers in Psychology,

Abeyta, Routledge, and Kaslon’s work indicates how design may be used to counter loneliness, to some extent.  The team found that “Loneliness is difficult to overcome, in part because it is associated with negative social cognitions and social motivations. We argue that nostalgia, a positive emotional experience that involves reflecting on cherished memories, is a psychological resource that regulates these maladaptive intrapsychic tendencies associated with loneliness. . . . results provided support that nostalgia mitigates [lessens] reduced social confidence and low approach-oriented social goals/intentions associated with loneliness. . . . This weakening appeared to be due to nostalgia’s positive effect on social confidence and approach-oriented social goals/intentions, respectively, particularly at high levels of loneliness. . . . nostalgia increased intentions to engage in a social interaction when people were made to feel lonely. . . . feelings of nostalgia are associated with stronger social confidence.”  Prior research, completed by Zhou and colleagues in 2008, determined that nostalgia encourages impressions of social support.  The Abeyta-lead team report that feelings of nostalgia can be generated via familiar scents or music, for instance.  

Andrew Abeyta, Clay Routledge, and Samuel Kaslon.  2020. “Combating Loneliness with Nostalgia: Nostalgic Feelings Attenuate Negative Thoughts and Motivations Associated with Loneliness.”  Frontiers in Psychology,

Researchers linked living in walkable neighborhoods to living longer.  A study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, based on data collected in Washington state, written by Amram, Bhardwaj, Amiri, and Buchwald, determined that people “who live in highly walkable, mixed-age communities may be more likely to live to their 100th birthday. [Researchers] also found socioeconomic status to be correlated, and an additional analysis showed that geographic clusters where the probability of reaching centenarian age is high are located in urban areas and smaller towns with higher socioeconomic status, including the Seattle area and the region around Pullman, Washington. . . neighborhood walkability, higher socioeconomic status, and a high percentage of working age population (a measure of age diversity) were positively correlated with reaching centenarian status.”

“Centenarian Study Suggests Living Environment May Be Key to Longevity.”  2020.  Press release, Washington State University (Judith Van Dongen),

The AIA has released a report “detailing strategies that can reduce risk of COVID-19 transmission in K-12 facilities.”  It is available at the web address noted below.  As the  AIA website noted below continues: “The report and 3D models were developed by a team of architects, public health experts, engineers and facility managers as part of AIA’s initiative, ‘Reopening America:  Strategies for safer buildings.’  The team used emerging research and public health data to develop the strategies, which can be implemented immediately.”

Huang and Sengupta studied how thinking about disease influences decisions made.  They investigated “how exposure to disease-related cues influences consumers’ preference for typical (vs. atypical) product options. . . . we predict that disease salience decreases relative preference for typical versus atypical options, because typical products are implicitly associated with many people, misaligning them with the people-avoidance motive triggered by disease cues. . . . we argue that the focal effect will not manifest when the disease in question is explicitly described to be non-contagious, or when an anti-infection intervention is introduced, or when the decision context involves minimum infection.”

Yunhui Huang and Jaideep Sengupta.  “The influence of Disease Cues on Preference for Typical Versus Atypical Products.”  Journal of Consumer Research, in press,

Brussoni and colleagues studied children (10- to 13-years old) in three diverse urban neighborhoods in Canada engaged in unsupervised outdoor activities (UOA), which in the words of the researchers “are key for thriving children and societies.”  Data were collected via interviews.  The investigators determined that “There has been increasing recognition of the importance of children's outdoor play and independent mobility for thriving children, neighbourhoods, cities and society. . . . Analyses revealed two themes: First, ‘feeling safe’ encompassed a sense of social and physical safety, including children's sense of neighbourliness, social dangers, discomfort around traffic, and personal agency to keep themselves safe. Second, having ‘things to do,’ included . . . having other children to play with, diverse amenities and access to nature, and opportunities for challenge and risky play.” In brief:  “Children identified feeling safe and having things to do as necessary for UOA. Neighbourliness, other children, and personal agency helped children feel safe.  Children wanted friends to hang out with and things to do within walking distance.”

Mariana Brussoni, Yingyi Lin, Christina Han, Ian Janssen, Nadine Schuurman, Randy Boyes, David Swanlund, and Louise Masse.  “A Qualitative Investigation of Unsupervised Outdoor Activities for 10- to 13-Year-Old Children:  ‘I Like Adventuring But I don’t Like Adventuring Without Being Careful.”  Journal of Environmental Psychology,in press,

Kondo and colleagues studied links between tree cover and human longevity.  They report that “greenspaces in urban environments have been associated with physical and mental health benefits for city dwellers. . . . We did a greenspace health impact assessment to estimate the annual premature mortality burden for adult residents associated with projected changes in tree canopy cover in Philadelphia between 2014 and 2025. . . .  We estimated that 403 (95% interval 298-618) premature deaths overall, including 244 (180-373) premature deaths in areas of lower socioeconomic status, could be prevented annually in Philadelphia if the city were able to meet its goal of increasing tree canopy cover to 30%.”

Michelle Kondo, Natalie Mueller, Dexter Locke, Lara Roman, David Rojas-Rueda, Leah Schinasi, Mireia Gascon, and Mark Nieuwenhuijisen. 2020.  “Health Impact Assessment of Philadelphia’s 2025 Tree Canopy Goals.”  Lancet Planet Health, vol. 4, no. 4, pp. e149-e157, DOI: 10.1016/S2542-5196(20)30058-9

People designing and managing cities today can benefit from learning about life in ancient settlements. A research group headed by Schott Ortman at the University of Colorado Boulder published a study in Science Advances:  “Ortman and Jose Lobo from Arizona State University took a deep dive into data from the farming towns that dotted the Rio Grande Valley between the 14th and 16th centuries. Modern metropolises should take note: As the Pueblo villages grew bigger and denser, their per capita production of food and other goods seemed to go up, too. Busy streets, in other words, may lead to better-off citizens. . . . When villages got more populous, their residents seemed to get better off on average. . . . Living spaces grew in size and families collected more painted pottery. . . . Every time villages doubled in size, markers of economic growth increased by about 16% on average.  . . . these Pueblo communities hold an important lesson for modern-day societies: the more people can connect with others, the more prosperous they become.”

“Ancient Societies Hold Lessons for Modern Cities.”  2020. Press release, University of Colorado Boulder (Daniel Strain),


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