Latest Blog Posts
D’Acci reports on our experiences traveling through a space. He reports that “It is widely recognized that most people are attracted to curvy paths rather than straight ones.”
Luca D’Acci. “Orientational Versus Esthetical Urban Street Morphology Parameterization in Space Syntax.” Spatial Cognition and Computation, in press, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13875868.2018.1564754
Hellinga, Mehta, and Mehran investigated how the experiences of bikers differ when there are and are not bike lanes for them to travel in. Their data, “Collected using sensors and a handlebar camera as researchers cycled hundreds of kilometres in Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario . . . showed bike lanes virtually eliminate vehicles getting too close to cyclists when they pass them. . . . On two-lane roads without bike lanes, passing motorists got within a metre of cyclists 12 per cent of the time. With bike lanes, that number dropped to just .2 per cent. On four-lane roads, unsafe passing dropped from almost six per cent with no bike lanes to .5 per cent with bikes lanes. . . . In addition to improving safety, he [Hellinga] said bike lanes make cyclists more comfortable and therefore more likely to cycle.”
“Research Will Help Urban Planners Prioritize Bike Lanes.” 2019. Press release, University of Waterloo, https://uwaterloo.ca/news/news/research-will-help-urban-planners-priorit...
A Konig-lead team confirms the important links between culture and the experience of place. The researchers report that “The living environment plays a critical role in healthy aging. . . . The aim of this study was to shed light on older adults’ (. . .ages 70+) living situations and their demands on the neighborhood in two countries, the United States . . . and Germany. . . . Differences between countries were more pronounced than differences between age groups or living areas, indicating that cultural influence is a key aspect of needs assessment for neighborhood design. . . . As opposed to Americans, Germans had higher expectations of their immediate neighborhood to fulfill their local (e.g., public transportation) and social needs (e.g., family nearby), but countries did not differ regarding global needs such as safety. Our findings suggest that successful aging in place can be supported by a neighborhood that meets people’s needs, but also takes their cultural background into consideration.”
Katharina Konig, Martina Raue, Lisa D’Ambrosio, and Joseph Coughlin. “Physical and Emotional Support of the Neighborhood for Older Adults: A Comparison of the United States and Germany.” Journal of Environmental Psychology, in press, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvp.2019.01.008
A new app makes it easier to function in the world as a color blind person and also for people with color vision to understand how color blind people experience the world. More information about the app is available here: http://colorblindpal.com.
The website for the app reports on its functionality: “Color Blind Pal . . . helps people who are color blind see the colors around them. It also lets people with normal vision see what it's like to be color blind. . . . Use the Color Filter to shift colors that are hard to distinguish toward colors that you can easily distinguish. . . . The Color Filter can also simulate any type of color blindness.” The app, which is useful for living with/understanding a variety of types of color blindness, can also be used to identify colors present by “Common names, Scientific names, and Colloquial names (like ‘beige’). . . . See the color's hue, saturation, and value, as well as its exact RGB color code.”
Neill and colleagues have confirmed that there are benefits to spending even short amounts of time in nature. They conducted “Two studies . . . with university students to examine whether the duration of nature contact influences the magnitude of benefits for both hedonic (positive and negative affect [emotions]) and self-transcendent emotions. Study 1 investigated whether 5 minutes of sedentary nature contact influenced both emotion types, and Study 2 examined whether mood improvements are sensitive to the duration of nature contact (5 vs. 15 minutes). Results indicate that brief nature contact reliably improved both hedonic and self-transcendent emotions, and that the duration of contact in the range tested had no impact on this improvement.”
Calum Neill, Janelle Gerard, and Katherine Arbuthnott. “Nature Contact and Mood Benefits: Contact Duration and Mood Type.” Journal of Positive Psychology, in press, https://doi.org/10.1080/17439760.2018.1557242
Gaab, Kossowsky, Ehlert, and Locher found that colors can have a placebo effect. Via their study, published in Scientific Reports, they determined that “Placebos can . . . have effects when specific psychological effects are attributed to them. . . . The accompanying explanation – the narrative – played a key role when dispensing the placebos, as did the relationship between the researchers and the participants. The researchers used the color green as the placebo in the video experiments, examining it both with and without a psychological narrative (‘green is calming because it activates early conditioned emotional schemata’), as well as in the context of a neutral or a friendly relationship. After viewing the videos, the participants assessed their subjective condition with questionnaires over several days. The results showed that the placebo had a positive effect on the participants’ well-being when it was prescribed together with a psychological narrative and in the context of a friendly relationship. The observed effect was strongest after administering the placebo but remained evident for up to one week.”
“Even Psychological Placebos Have An Effect.” 2019. Press release, University of Basel, https://www.unibas.ch/en/News-Events/News/Uni-Research/Even-psychologica...
Research by a Gable-lead team indicates the value of supporting opportunities for mind wandering, for example, via art in workplaces or greenery-enhanced walkways inside or outdoors. The investigators found that when during “two studies . . . professional writers and physicists reported on their most creative idea of the day. . . . Participants reported that one fifth of their most significant ideas of the day were formed during spontaneous task-independent mind wandering—operationalized here as (a) engaging in an activity other than working and (b) thinking about something unrelated to the generated idea. There were no differences between ratings of the creativity or importance of ideas that occurred during mind wandering and those that occurred on task. However, ideas that occurred during mind wandering were more likely to be associated with overcoming an impasse on a problem and to be experienced as ‘aha’ moments, compared with ideas generated while on task.”
Shelly Gable, Elizabeth Hopper, and Jonathan Schooler. “When the Muses Strike: Creative Ideas of Physicists and Writers Routinely Occur During Mind Wandering.” Psychological Science, in press, https://doi.org/10.1177/0956797618820626
Clobert and colleagues investigated how culture influences the relationship between moods and health—and research consistently shows design-mood links. The Clobert-lead team reports that “North American (vs. East Asian) cultures tend to value high arousal positive (HAP) states, for example, excited, more than low arousal positive (LAP) states, for example, calm. . . . . Positive affective experience is manifest in internal feelings but also in affective practices, such as taking a bath (a highly valued affective experience in Japan) or a fitness workout (a highly valued affective experience in the United States). . . . we examined how health outcomes are shaped by positive affective feelings and practices varying in arousal. . . . HAP feelings predicted better physical and biological health in the United States but not in Japan. . . . engaging in HAP practices predicted better physical and biological health in the United States whereas engaging in LAP practices predicted better physical health in Japan but not in the United States.” The researchers collected data via surveys in the United States and in Japan.
Magali Clobert, Tamara Sims, Jiah Yoo, Yuri Miyamoto, Hazel Markus, Mayumi Karasawa, and Cynthia Levine. “Feeling Excited or Taking a Bath: Do Distinct Pathways Underlie the Positive Affect-Health Link in the U.S. and Japan?” Emotion, in press, http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/emo0000531
Appel-Meulenbroek and colleagues collected information from workers born into different generations to learn more about perceived workplace design-related needs and preferences. The variations they identified were present at the time that their research was conducted and may or may not persist as members of various generations age. The investigators defined Baby Boomers as born from 1946 – 1964, members of Generation X as being born from 1965 – 1979, and Millennials as born 1980 – 1998. Data were obtained from hundreds of Dutch office employees who are members of one of the three generations noted. The researchers determined that “Millennials indicated the physical workplace aspects accessibility of colleagues and informal work areas/ break-out zones to be significantly more important than generation X did. . . . Millennials perceived the ability to personalise their workstation to be a more important support for a work-life balance than generation X. . . . Companies that specifically want to satisfy their millennials could thus pay special attention to informal work areas and break- out zones, accessibility of colleagues and the ability to personalise a workstation. . . . Based on the analyses and the interpretation of the results, it can be concluded that there are differences between generations regarding their needs and their preferences for physical workplace aspects. However, those differences between generations are rather small.”
H. Appel-Meulenbroek, S. Vosters, A. Kemperman, and T. Arentze. 2019. “Workplace Needs and Their Support: Are Millennials Different from Other Generations?” Twenty-Fifth Annual Pacific Rim Real Estate Society Conference, Melbourne, Australia.