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Howell and Booth link neighborhood walkability and the presence of outdoor amenities to better health and fewer cases of diabetes among residents.  The duo report that “researchers and policymakers alike have been searching for effective means to promote healthy lifestyles at a population level. . . . there has been a proliferation of research examining how the ‘built’ environment in which we live influences physical activity levels, by promoting active forms of transportation, such as walking and cycling, over passive ones, such as car use. Shifting the transportation choices of local residents may mean that more members of the population can participate in physical activity during their daily routine without structured exercise programs.”  The researchers determined that people living in walkable neighborhoods who had access to parks and other options for outdoor activities were both more active and also less likely to be diabetic or obese.

Nicholas Howell and Gillian Booth.  “The Weight of Place:  Built Environment Correlates of Obesity and Diabetes.”  Endocrine Reviews, in press,

Uziel and Tomer Schmidt-Barad investigated how the decisions to be alone and to be with others influence wellbeing and their findings confirm the importance effects of control on wellbeing.  The research duo report that Stable social relationships are conducive to well-being. . . . The present investigation suggests that . . . social interactions increase ESWB [experiential subjective well-being] only if taken place by one's choice. Moreover, it is argued that choice matters more in a social context than in an alone context because experiences with others are amplified. These ideas were tested and supported in two studies: An experiment that manipulated social context and choice status, and a 10-day experience-sampling study, which explored these variables in real-life settings. Results showed that being with others by one’s choice had the strongest positive association with ESWB, sense of meaning, and control, whereas being with others not by one’s choice—the strongest negative association with ESWB.”  

Liad Uziel and Tomer Schmidt-Barad.  2022.  “Choice Matters More with Others:  Choosing to Be With Other People is More Consequential to Well-Being Than Choosing to Be Alone.”  Journal of Happiness Studies,

Reid, Rieves, and Carlson evaluated the effects of access to greenspace on mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic.  They share that they used data collected via a survey completed by Denver, CO residents (November 2019 – January 2021) “and [also] measured objective green space as the average NDVI (normalized difference vegetation index) from aerial imagery within 300m and 500m of the participant’s residence. Perceived green space was measured through Likert scores on five questions about vegetation near the home that captured perceived abundance, visibility, access, usage, and quality of green space. . . . Adjusted for sociodemographic and pandemic stressors, we found that spending a lot of time in green space (usage) was significantly associated with lower anxiety and depression. We also observed significantly lower depression scores associated with NDVI . . . (objective abundance) and significantly lower anxiety scores with perceived abundance of green space. . . . We did not observe significant associations for any green space metric and perceived stress after adjustment for confounding variables.”

Colleen Reid, Emma Rieves, and Kate Carlson.  2022.  “Perceptions of Green Space Usage, Abundance, and Quality of Green Space Were Associated with Better Mental Health During the COVID-19 Pandemic Among Residents of Denver.”  PLoS ONE, vol. 17, no. 3, e0263779,

Jiang and colleagues have found, via a study using immersive virtual environment (IVE) techniques, that views of green spaces through windows can make it easier to move from one part of a building to another effectively and efficiently;  their findings are readily applicable to non-healthcare space types.  The team reports that “Participants’ wayfinding performances were interpreted using several indicators, including task completion, duration, walking distance, stop, sign-viewing, and route selection. . . . participants performed better on high complexity wayfinding tasks in the IVE hospital with visible greenspaces, as indicated by less time consumed and shorter walking distance to find the correct destination, less frequent stops and sign viewing, and more efficient route selection. Participants also experienced enhanced mood states and favorable spatial experience and perceived aesthetics in the IVE hospital with visible greenspaces than the same environment without window views. . . . Hospital greenspaces located at key decision points could serve as landmarks that positively attract people’s attention, aid wayfinding, and improve their navigational experience.”

Shan Jiang, David Allison, and Andrew Duchowski.  “Hospital Greenspaces and the Impacts on Wayfinding and Spatial Experience:  An Explorative Experiment Through Immersive Virtual Environment (IVE) Techniques.”  HERD:  Health Environments Research and Design Journal, in press,

Yin, Bratman, Browning, Spengler, and Olvera-Alvarez evaluated how seeing desert scenes through windows influences stress levels.  They report that they studied “the effect of a virtual reality (VR) exposure to a desert vs. green environment among . . . residents of El Paso, Texas. The procedure consisted of an acute stressor followed by random assignment to a 10 min VR experience (desert, green space, or office [control condition]). . . . exposure to a desert environment in VR promoted stress recovery just as much as a green environment. . . . participants reported a preference for a picture of green landscape over a picture of a desert landscape. . . .   As our participants . . . had a degree of familiarity with the predominantly brown landscape of the Chihuahuan desert to which they were exposed. . . . immersion in the desert environment . . . could have afforded this population a more rapid assessment of safety, thereby counteracting the effects of the acute stressor and aiding in recovery."  These data were collected via virtual reality and not direct exposure to the desert, which may have influenced the findings.

Jie Yin, Gregory Bratman, Matthew Browning, John Spengler, and Hector Olvera-Alvarez.  “Stress Recovery from Virtual Exposure to a Brown (Desert) Environment Versus a Green Environment.”  Journal of Environmental Psychology, in press,

Yin and Huang studied factors that might encourage conspicuous consumption.  They report that “People’s schedules are jointly determined by their biological clock and social clock. However, their social clock often deviates from the biological clock (e.g., having to get up earlier than one’s natural wake-up time for work or study, having to stay up to work night shifts or meet a project deadline)—a phenomenon known as ‘social jetlag.’ How does social jetlag impact consumer behavior? Using field data and experiments, we show that social jetlag decreases conspicuous consumption because consumers experiencing social jetlag are less interested in social interaction. This effect is weakened when social interaction occurs among familiar others rather than strangers, when conspicuous consumption does not draw social attention, and when consumers expect to use a luxury product in a private setting.”

Yunlu Yin and Zhongqiang Huang.  “Social-Jetlagged Consumers and Decreased Conspicuous Consumption.”  Journal of Consumer Research, in press,

How does the speed at which we feel we’re moving (in a car or train, for example) influence decisions made?  Shani-Feinstein, Kyung, and Goldenberg share that “With recent technological innovations, people increasingly experience speed during decision making. They can be physically on the move with their devices or virtually immersed in speed simulated through their devices. Through seven experiments, we provide evidence for a speed-abstraction effect, where the perception of moving faster (vs. slower) leads people to rely on more abstract (vs. concrete) mental representations during decision making.”

Yael Shani-Feinstein, Ellie Kyung, and Jacob Goldenberg.  “Moving, Fast or Slow:  How Perceived Speed Influences Mental Representation and Decision Making.”  Journal of Consumer Research, in press,

Cui and teammates probed how the design of outdoor spaces at hospitals can influence staff stress levels.  They found that “several [previously conducted] studies have revealed that even short-term exposure to outdoor space has a decompression effect. . . . [in the study conducted by the Cui lead group] EEG measurement equipment was utilized to obtain the value of β wave (vβw) that represents the stress and anxiety of staff in three different outdoor spaces: open, traffic, and rest. . . . The proportion of natural elements, such as landscape . . . and waterscape . . . were negatively correlated with the vβw produced by staff, while the proportion of hard paving was positive . . . with more vβw produced by staff. In other words, the percentage of landscape and waterscape can reduce stress, while hard paving has the opposite effect.” 

Weiyi Cui, Zao Li, Xiaodong Xuan, Chao Lu, Qiqiang Tang, Shaobo Zhou, and Qingtao Li.  2022. “Influence of Hospital Outdoor Space on Physiological Electroencephalography (EEG) Feedback of Staff.”  HERD:  Health Environments Research and Design Journal, vol. 15, no. 1, pp. 239-255,

Miller and colleagues reviewed the findings of published qualitative studies related to the design of palliative healthcare spaces.  They report that “People with a life-limiting illness may receive palliative care to improve their quality of life in hospital. . . . Findings resulted in the development of the SSAFeR Place approach that incorporates the concepts that are important to palliative and end-of-life patients and their families by describing an environment within the acute or palliative care units that feels safe, is private, customizable, and accommodates family; is a space to share with others, is homelike in ambiance and aesthetics, and is conducive for reflection. The concepts of identity, belonging, and safety are connected to the notions of home. To provide person-centered care and to move the focus toward the palliative approach of comfort and quality of life, attention to room size, layout, aesthetics, and ambiance is needed.”

Elizabeth Miller, Joanne Porter, and Michael Barbagallo.  2022.  “The Physical Hospital Environment and Its Effects on Palliative Patients and Their Families:  A Qualitative Meta-Synthesis.”  HERD:  Health Environments Research and Design Journal, vol. 15, no. 1, pp. 268-291,

Lin investigated how illustrations are evaluated.  Findings from the completed study include: “Although the aesthetic experience of popular illustrations is frequent in modern life, no scientific research can fully explain its psychological structure so far. This study aims to develop an aesthetic model of perception, affection, and cognition, presenting an aesthetic psychological framework for contemporary popular illustration. Thirty representative illustrations were selected as experimental stimuli from design media. . . . The results showed that beauty, pleasure, and interestingness are the optimum indicators measuring the aesthetic experience of popular illustrations, and instead of the underlying meanings, the positive self-rewarding quality makes aesthetic experience of popular illustrations special.”

Yen-Ching Lin.  “An Aesthetic Model for Popular Illustration.”  Empirical Studies of the Arts, in press,


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