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Features of neighboring homes influence what we think about our own house.  Kuhlmann investigated “whether the size of one’s home relative to others in their [resident’s] neighbourhood influences their housing satisfaction. . . . [and found] evidence that relative position matters. Those living in comparatively small houses are more likely to express dissatisfaction with their home than people living in units that are large relative to other houses in their neighbourhood cluster.”

Daniel Kuhlmann. “Coveting Your Neighbour’s House: Understanding the Positional Nature of Residential Satisfaction.”  Housing Studies, in press,

Schmidt and colleagues wanted to learn more about how nonverbal messages influence how people think and behave.  They “recorded participants' EEG brain responses while they played a risk game developed in our laboratory. . . . we predicted that cognitive control would be reduced in the helmet group [that is, people playing the game while wearing a bicycle helmet although they were not near a bicycle], indicated by reduced frontal midline theta power, and that this group would prefer riskier options in the risk game. . . . we found that participants in the helmet group showed significantly lower frontal midline theta power than participants in the control group, indicating less cognitive control. . . . Our results suggest that wearing a bike helmet reduces cognitive control, as revealed by reduced frontal midline theta power, leading to risk indifference when evaluating potential behaviors.”  It is likely that the effect observed, tying feeling protected/safe and lower levels of cognitive control, is likely to be found in contexts beyond those tested.

Barbara Schmidt, Luisa Kessler, Clay Holroyd, and Wolfgang Miltner.  “Wearing a Bike Helmet Leads to Less Cognitive Control, Revealed by Lower Frontal Midline Theta Power and Risk Indifference.”  Psychophysiology, in press,

Researchers studying beauty have found that math can be beautiful, just like landscapes and sonatas. A study by Steinerberger and Johnson, published in Cognition,reports that “average Americans can assess mathematical arguments for beauty just as they can pieces of art or music. The beauty they discerned about the math was not one-dimensional either: Using nine criteria for beauty — such as elegance, intricacy, universality, etc. — 300 individuals had better-than-chance agreement about the specific ways that four different [mathematical] proofs were beautiful. . . . For the study, they [researchers] chose four each of mathematical arguments, landscape paintings, and [classical] piano sonatas.  . . . The researchers’ nine dimensions elaborated from Hardy’s six were: seriousness, universality, profundity, novelty, clarity, simplicity, elegance, intricacy, and sophistication. . . . for both the artworks and math arguments a high rating for elegance was most likely to predict a high rating for beauty.”

“Study Show We Like Our Math Like We Like Our Art:  Beautiful.” 2019.  Press release, Yale University,

Ng and colleagues investigated the benefits tenants link to science parks; some benefits reported have design implications.  The team, via an online survey completed by tenants in multiple science parks in the Netherlands, identified three types of science park tenants: “The three tenant types sought different benefits through different attributes. Commercially-orientated firms associated science park attributes as ways for being near customers. Mature science-based firms associated attributes with a wider range of benefits, such as image benefits, being near customers and other firms. Young technology-based firms were more cost-driven and focused on image benefits.  The associations between various types of facilities and the benefits that tenant types seek, provide insights for practitioners in terms of the design and management of science parks.”  Science parks were defined “as physical areas where multiple knowledge-intensive organisations and institutes co-locate and where innovation is formally and informally leveraged.”

Wei Ng, Robin Junker, Rianne Appel-Meulenbroek, Myriam Cloodt, and Theo Arentze.  “Perceived Benefits of Science Park Attributes Among Park Tenants in the Netherlands.”  The Journal of Technology Transfer, in press,

Li and colleagues investigated how crowding at malls influences routes travelled.  They determined that “High crowdedness (evenly distributed between routes) does not impact wayfinding strategies or initial route choices. Navigators tend to avoid crowds by moving close to the boundaries of the environment in high crowdedness. . . . Participants were asked to locate a store inside the virtual building as efficiently as possible. . . . The results showed that crowdedness did not affect wayfinding strategies or initial route choices, but did affect locomotion in that participants in the high crowdedness condition were more likely to avoid crowds by moving close to the boundaries of the environment.”

Hengshan Li, Tyler Thrash, Christoph Holscher, and Victor Schinazi.  “The Effect of Crowdedness on Human Wayfinding and Locomotion in a Multi-Level Virtual Shopping Mall.” Journal of Environmental Psychology, in press,

Reese, Oettler, and Katz set out to learn more about how people bond to places.  As they describe, “Place attachment – the cognitive-emotional bond people have to specific places – is associated with various psychological outcomes and behaviors. While it is well-established that both important social as well as physical features determine how strongly people attach to a place, it is largely unexplored how the loss of such features causally affects place attachment. . . .  Results [of research conducted by the Reese-lead team] revealed that imagining the loss of both a physical and a social feature combined resulted in lowest anticipated attachment to the place. Closer data inspection suggests that social features seem more important than physical features. . . . . Findings suggest that proposed changes (e.g., in urban policy decisions) may affect attachment.”

Gerhard Reese, Leonie Oettler, and Laura Katz.  “Imagining the Loss of Social and Physical Place Characteristics Reduces Place Attachment.”   Journal of Environmental Psychology, in press,

Bild and colleagues studied responses to soundscapes in public spaces.  They determined via data collected in Amsterdam that “solitary and socially interactive respondents [people in the public spaces investigated] evaluate their soundscapes differently. . . . The sounds of people were considered as the main source of both disruption and stimulation for both groups; while conversations and the sounds of others in general were referred to as stimulating, loud conversations and children crying were disrupting. Surprisingly, the sounds of traffic were not mentioned as a main source of disruption; unsurprisingly, ‘natural’ sounds were mentioned as a main source of stimulation (with only socially interactive respondents mentioning birds among stimulating sources). . . . we asked users to evaluate their soundscapes from three perspectives: in terms of disruption, stimulation and overall suitability. . . . Stimulation is a common term. . . we use it as an active verb (‘to stimulate’). . .  we selected “to disrupt” as an antonym for ‘stimulate.’”

Edda Bild, Karin Pfeffer, Matt Coler, Ori Rubin, and Luca Bertolini. 2019.  “Public Space Users’ Soundscape Evaluations in Relation to Their Activities.  An Amsterdam-Based Study.” Frontiers in Psychology,

A Kao-lead team linked what we’re looking at with what we choose to eat; we make healthier choices when looking at nature images than we do otherwise.  The researchers found that “Visual exposure to natural versus urban scenes leads to healthier dietary choices. . . .  Successful weight loss requires individuals to focus on distant health gains while sacrificing immediate culinary pleasures. Time discounting refers to the tendency to discount larger future gains in favor of smaller immediate rewards. Hence, lower discounting should lead to better dietary practices and healthier dietary choices. . . . The current study examined whether viewing pictures of natural scenes induces lower discounting, leading to healthier dietary choices. . . . . participants who viewed pictures of natural scenes chose a smaller amount of sugar for their reward drinks compared with participants viewing the urban scene and the control condition. The discounting rate mediated the association between exposure to natural landscapes and a smaller amount of sugar chosen for the reward drink (i.e., a healthier dietary choice).”

Chien-Che Kao, Wen-Hisung Wu, and Wen-Bin Chiou.  “Exposure to Nature May Induce Lower Discounting and Lead to Healthier Dietary Choices.”  Journal of Environmental Psychology, in press,

Staats and Groot investigated where solo individuals choose to sit in a crowded café when there are already people sitting in some of the coffee house seats.  The researchers report that  “we manipulated two aspects of intimacy (eye contact and distance to others), and one aspect of privacy (architectural anchoring) in separate scenario’s and registered participants’ seat choice on floor plans of the three hypothetical cafés. We found that more often participants chose a seat that was at a larger distance to other café-goers. Study 2 . . . replicated the design of the first study. . . . This time we found that participants more often chose low-eye contact and anchored seats.”  An important clarification: “privacy was manipulated by altering the amount of possible input regulation by ‘anchoring’ one of two tables to a wall. . . . This shielded the vacant seat from café-goers seated at other tables, but not from those that were seated at the same table.”  

Henk Staats and Piet Groot. 2019.  “Seat Choice in a Crowded Café: Effects of Eye Contact, Distance, and Anchoring.”  Frontiers in Psychology,

Zalejska-Jonsson investigated people’s acoustic experiences in their homes.  She found that “experiencing noise from neighbours occurred relatively seldom; however, this factor has the strongest effect on satisfaction with acoustic quality.” Data were collected in multistory residential buildings.

Agnieszka Zalejska-Jonsson. 2019.  “Perceived Acoustic Quality and Effect on Occupants’ Satisfaction in Green and Conventional Residential Buildings.”  Buildings, vol. 9, no. 1,


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