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Welcome to the Research Design Connections blog, started in 2007. Recent blog entries are available here. Earlier blog entries (one for every working day since the beginning of May, 2007) are available to subscribers.

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Munzel and colleagues continue the research into links between environmental conditions and disease.  They report that “Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) are fatal for more than 38 million people each year and are thus the main contributors to the global burden of disease accounting for 70% of mortality. The majority of these deaths are caused by cardiovascular disease. The risk of NCDs is strongly associated with exposure to environmental stressors such as pollutants in the air, noise exposure, artificial light at night and climate change, including heat extremes, desert storms and wildfires. In addition to the traditional risk factors for cardiovascular disease such as diabetes, arterial hypertension, smoking, hypercholesterolemia and genetic predisposition, there is a growing body of evidence showing that physicochemical factors in the environment contribute significantly to the high NCD numbers. Furthermore, urbanization is associated with accumulation and intensification of these stressors.”

Thomas Munzel, Omar Hahad, Mette Sorensen, Jos Lelieveld, Georg Duerr, Mark Nieuwenhuijsen, and Andreas Daiber.  “Environmental Risk Factors and Cardiovascular Diseases:  A Comprehensive Review.”  Cardiovascular Research, in press, https://doi.org/10.1093/cvr/cvab316

Watkins, Patel, and Antoine’s work signals the value of healthy eating at work and the consequences of supporting it.  They report that “Food consumption has been conceptualized as an integral aspect of employee well-being. Whereas most research in the organizational literature to date is motivated by individual health outcomes, we assert that eating at work also entails interpersonal implications. . . . we posit that workplace healthy eating influences the extent to which a focal employee is attributed the trait of self-control, which subsequently impacts coworker citizenship behavior and social undermining enacted toward the focal employee. . . . when there is a salient healthy eating climate, workplace healthy eating is a weaker signal in the trait attribution process.”

Trevor Watkins, Amanda Patel, and Giselle Antoine. “You Are What You Eat:  How and When Workplace Healthy Eating Cultivates Coworker Perceptions and Behaviors.”  Journal of Applied Psychology, in press, https://doi.org/10.1037/apl0000579

Buisch and colleagues investigated links between political orientation and place experience.  They report that “Based on work suggesting possible ideological differences in genes related to low-level sensory processing, we predicted that taste (i.e., gustatory) sensitivity would be associated with political ideology. In 4 studies . . . we test this hypothesis and find robust support for this association. In Studies 1–3, we find that sensitivity to the chemicals PROP and PTC—2 well established measures of taste sensitivity—are associated with greater political conservatism. In Study 4, we find that fungiform papilla density, a proxy for taste bud density, also predicts greater conservatism, and that this association is partially statistically mediated by disgust sensitivity. This work suggests that low-level physiological differences in sensory processing may shape an individual’s political attitudes.”

Benjamin Buisch, Rajen Anderson, Yoel Inbar, and David Pizarro. 2021.  “A Matter of Taste:  Gustatory Sensitivity Predicts Political Ideology.”  Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, vol. 121, no. 2, pp. 394-409, https://doi.org/10.1037/pspp0000365

Ebert and teammates investigated influences on decisions made.  They share “evidence on the relationship of individual and regional personality with spending behavior. Analyzing the spending records of 111,336 participants (31,915,942 unique transactions) across 374 Local Authority Districts (LAD) in the United Kingdom, we first show that geographic regions with higher aggregate scores on a given personality trait collectively spend more money on categories associated with that trait. Shifting the focus to individual level spending as our behavioral outcome (N = 1,716), we further demonstrate that regional personality of a participant’s home LAD predicts individual spending above and beyond individual personality. That is, a person’s spending reflects both their own personality traits as well as the personality traits of the people around them. . . .  Taken together, our findings empirically support the proposition that spending behaviors reflect personality traits as both personal and environmental characteristics.”

Tobias Ebert, Friedrich Gotz, Joe Gladstone, Sandrine Muller, and Sandra Matz. 2021.  “Spending Reflects Not Only Who We Are But Also Who We Are Around:  The Joint Effects of Individual and Geographic Personality on Consumption.”  Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, vol. 121, no. 2, pp. 378-393, https://doi.org/10.1037/pspp0000344 

Zhang and colleagues’ work confirms links between feeling awed and thinking creatively.  The team reports that “on days when participants felt more daily awe than they typically do, they reported having done more everyday creative activities. The effects of awe were independent of amusement . . . and Big Five personality. . . .   These results are the first to demonstrate a consistent link between awe and complementary measures of creativity.”

J. Zhang, R. Howell, P. Razavi, H. Shaban-Azad, W. Chai, T. Ramis, Z. Mello, C. Anderson, and D. Keltner.  “Awe is Associated with Creative Personality, Convergent Creativity, and Everyday Creativity.”  Psychology of Aesthetics Creativity, and the Arts, in press, https://doi.org/10.1037/aca0000442

Hahnel-Peeters and colleagues investigated the implications of using nature words in names;  their findings confirm the psychological value of in-nature experiences.  The researchers report that “In Study 1, we conducted a content analysis of the naming conventions of apartment buildings and residential neighborhoods. We hypothesized that there would be more nature words (e.g., valley, river, arbor) in apartment and neighborhood names than nonnature words (e.g., 4th Street; Renaissance, Washington). . . . Results strongly supported our hypothesis; There were 52% more nature words than nonnature words in the names of apartment buildings and residential neighborhoods. Study 2 . . . [investigated] if apartments and neighborhoods with nature names were perceived as more valuable than those without nature names. Participants rated five photographs of apartments and five photographs of neighborhoods photoshopped to display nature or nonnature names. . . . Apartments and neighborhoods with manipulated nature names were rated as statistically more expensive.”

Rebecka Hahnel-Peeters, Kyle Peeters, and Aaron Goetz. “Why Boulder Springs Has No Boulders and No Springs:  Evolved Landscape Preferences and Naming Conventions.”  Psychology of Aesthetics Creativity and the Arts, in press, https://doi.org/10.1037/aca0000414

Shiner’s discussion of scents, art, and scents in/as art addresses, in a thought-provoking way, the role of sensory experiences in our lives.  As materials on the Oxford University webpage for this text (https://oxford.universitypressscholarship.com/view/10.1093/oso/978019008... ) detail:   “This book offers an overview of the aesthetic and ethical issues raised by the contemporary olfactory arts, which range from gallery and museum sculptures and installations, through the enhancement of theater, film,, and music with scents, to the ambient scenting of stores and avant-garde chefs’ use of scents in cuisine.  Special attention is given to . . . . the role of scent in the appreciation of nature and gardens. Ethical issues are discussed regarding ambient scenting, perfume wearing, and the use of smells in fast-food marketing.”

Larry Shiner. 2020.  Art Scents:  Exploring the Aesthetics of Smell and the Olfactory Arts. Oxford University Press; New York. 

Marschallek and team studied how we discuss materials with the goal of better understanding how we experience differences in them.  The group reports that “this study examines the conceptual structure of the aesthetics of various materials (Werkstoffe)—for instance, leather, metal, and wood. . . . we asked 1,956 students to write down adjectives that could be used to describe the aesthetics of materials. . . . A second subsample of a broader cross-section of the population (n = 496) replicated the findings obtained with the first subsample. A joint analysis of both subsamples identified the term ‘smooth’ as by far the most relevant term, followed by the other core terms ‘hard,’ ‘rough,’ ‘soft,’ and ‘glossy.’ Furthermore, sensorial qualities (e.g., ‘warm’ and ‘see-through’) constituted the main elements of the aesthetics of materials, and the great majority of these were haptic [tactile] qualities (e.g., ‘cold’ and ‘heavy’).”

Barbara Marschallek, Valentin Wagner, and Thomas Jacobsen. “Smooth As Glass and Hard As Stone?  On the Conceptual Structure of the Aesthetics of Materials.”  Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, in press, https://doi.org/10.1037/aca0000437

Aristizabal and colleagues continue their research into the repercussions of biophilic in-workplace experiences.  For the project reported here, they again exposed study participants to an assortment of experiences.  The space where data were collected  “allowed individuals to perform their typical workday task for 10 weeks. . . . After a 2-week acclimation period, participants were exposed to three biophilic conditions (visual, auditory and multisensory) as well as the baseline setting.”  In the visual condition, participants viewed “Indoor plants, projections of greenery, and artwork displaying nature scenes.”  In the auditory one they heard “Sounds of gentle streams, crickets, and birds native to the Midwest region of the United States” where data were collected.  In the multisensory project phase, study participants experienced the biophilic sights and sounds noted.  In summary: “Participants felt more satisfied with their workplace conditions during the biophilic interventions compared to baseline conditions.  Participants reported feeling more satisfied with the aesthetic appearance and visual privacy in the visual and multisensory conditions.  Similarly, participants reported improvements in perceived productivity in the visual and multisensory conditions. . . . results suggest that immersive biophilic environments can improve aspects of cognitive performance, environmental satisfaction and reduces stress in an office environment.”

Sara Aristizabal, Bing Guo, Regina Vaicekonyte, and Carolina Campanella.  2021.  “Nature and Stress Don’t Mix:  Results form a Biophilic Office Design Study.”  Association for Neuroscience for Architecture Conference, Poster presentation, September 17

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