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Glass staircases are regularly found in an assortment of environments. Kim and Steinfeld investigated the safety of winding glass staircases: “The purpose of this study was to assess the safety of a winding glass stairway by observing the behavior of stair users. . . .    Video observations were conducted in a retail store with a glass stairway (GS) and a shopping mall with a conventional stairway (CS). . . .  On the glass stairway, more users glanced down at the treads (GS: 87% vs. CS: 59%); fewer users diverted their gaze away from the stairs (GS: 54% vs. CS: 67%); and handrail use was higher (GS: 32% vs. CS: 24%). Incident rates were much higher on the glass stairway (6.2%) compared to the conventional stairway (0.7%). . . .  Recent laboratory research suggests that stairway users may behave more cautiously using stairways with glass treads but the results from this study demonstrate that the benefit of increased caution can be negated in real world conditions.”

Karen Kim and Edward Steinfeld.  2019.  “The Effects of Glass Stairways on Stair Users:  An Observational Study of Stairway Safety.”  Safety Science, vol. 113, pp. 30-36,

Krukar and Dalton evaluated how the display of visual artworks influences responses to them. They report that when members of the general public who were not artists, curators, or architects viewed a non-public, mock-up art gallery that “The more visible an artwork was, the more attention it attracted. Artworks that were more co-visible [simultaneously visible with other artworks], were viewed in a more haphazard way. However, more haphazard viewing strategy simultaneously resulted in higher cumulative viewing times and did not negatively affect the cognitive processing of artworks. Memory of artworks seems to be affected by the cumulative amount of attention allocated to them (including even short glimpses). . . . These methods demonstrated that what traditionally could be interpreted as a poor, ‘distracted’ visitor experience, had little negative impact on the cognitive processing of artworks. Visitors were able to adjust their viewing strategies inside a potentially less optimal space. This finding supports the planning of more diverse spatial interactions with the art.”

Jakub Krukar and Ruth Dalton. 2020.  “How the Visitors’ Cognitive Engagement is Driven (But Not Dictated) by the Visibility and Co-Visibility of Art Exhibits.”Frontiers in Psychology,

Chang and Baskin-Sommers set out to learn more about how a disorderly neighborhood can influence trust. They share that “Neighborhood disorder (i.e., physical or social decay) is associated with decreased trust, which reinforces criminal behavior for some individuals in these communities. . . . we examined the association between perceived neighborhood disorder and facial trustworthiness perception. . . .   findings suggest that similarly processing trustworthy and untrustworthy faces . . . may reflect an adaptation among those with higher perceived neighborhood disorder that mitigates against [diminishes] deviant behavior and contacts with the law.”

Shou-An Chang and Arielle Baskin-Sommers. 2020.   “Living in a Disadvantaged Neighborhood Affects Neural Processing of Facial Trustworthiness.”  Frontiers in Psychology, in press, doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.00409

Shepley and colleagues investigated links between urban green space and nearby crime.  They determined via a literature review that “Green spaces typically comprised tree cover, parks and ground cover. Criminal behaviors typically included murder, assault, and theft. The majority of the research reviewed involved quantitative methods (e.g., comparison of green space area to crime data). We extracted multiple mechanisms from the literature that may account for the impact of green space on crime including social interaction and recreation, community perception, biophilic stress reduction, climate modulation, and spaces expressing territorial definition. . . . access to nature has a mitigating [diminishing] impact on violence in urban settings.”

Mardelle Shepley, Naomi Sachs, Hessam Sadatsafavi, Christine Fournier, and Kati Peditto.  2019.  “The Impact of Green Space on Violent Crime in Urban Environments:  An Evidence Synthesis.”  International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, vol. 16, no. 24, 5119,

Schlager, de Bellis and Hoegg studied links between weather conditions and product evaluations; their findings are relevant to any group presenting options to others. The Schalger team reports that “A large-scale field study and four experiments demonstrate that weather affects product valuation but only under particular conditions. . . . product valuation increases only if (1) the product is associated (vs. not associated) with a given weather state, as the match of product and weather facilitates mental simulation, and (2) the product is perceived as attractive (vs. unattractive). . . . We test three weather states—sunshine, snowfall, and rain—and find that our effects emerge for sunshine and snowfall but not for rain, as the latter does not enhance mental simulation.”

Tobias Schlager, Emanuel de Bellis and JoAndrea Hoegg. “How and When Weather Boosts Consumer Product Valuation.”  Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, in press,

Kim and teammates studied worker comfort via data collected in a “typical” office building.  As they report, “Personal Comfort Systems (PCS) provide individual occupants local heating and cooling to meet their comfort needs without affecting others in the same space. . . . Recently developed Internet-connected PCS chairs . . . [can generate] continuous streams of heating and cooling usage data, along with occupancy status and environmental measurements. . . . we carried out a study with PCS chairs . . . . The data analysis shows that (1) local temperatures experienced by individual occupants vary quite widely across different parts of the building, even within the same thermal zone; (2) occupants often have different thermal preferences even under the same thermal conditions; . . . (4) PCS chairs produce much higher comfort satisfaction (96%) than typically achieved in buildings. . . . PCS not only provide personalized comfort solutions but also offer individualized feedback that can improve comfort analytics and control decisions in buildings.”

Joyce Kim, Fred Bauman, Paul Raftery, Edward Arens, Hui Zhang, Gabe Fierro, Michael Andersen, and David Culler.  2019. “Occupant Comfort and Behavior: High-Resolution Data from a 6-Month Field Study of Personal Comfort Systems with 37 Real Office Workers.”  Building and Environment, vo. 148, pp. 348-360,

Particular sorts of outdoor play spaces have more positive effects on children’s health and mental development.  Researchers lead by Dankiw and Baldock determined that understanding “the importance of nature play could transform children’s play spaces, supporting investment in city and urban parks, while also delivering important opportunities for children’s physical, social and emotional development. . . . . [for] children aged 2-12 years . . . nature play improved children’s complex thinking skills, social skills and creativity. . . . this study . . . supports the development of innovative nature play spaces in childcare centres and schools. ‘In recent years, nature play has become more popular with schools and childcare centres, with many of them re-developing play spaces to incorporate natural elements, such as trees, plants and rocks. But as they transition from the traditional ‘plastic fantastic’ playgrounds to novel nature-based play spaces, they’re also looking for empirical evidence that supports their investments,’ Dankiw says. . . . nature play improved children’s levels of physical activity, health-related fitness, motor skills, learning, and social and emotional development.”

“Mother Nature: Reshaping Modern Play Spaces for Children’s Health.”  2020. Press release, University of South Australia,

Ingvarsdottir and Balkenius probed the relationship between the apparent weight of an object and how shiny/matte its finish is.  They determined that when objects that are identical except for finish glossiness are picked up, one that has a shiny finish will be perceived to be heavier than one with a matte finish.  

Kristin Ingvarsdottir and Christian Balkenius.  2020. “The Visual Perception of Material Properties Affects Moto Planning in Prehension:  An Analysis of Temporal and Spatial Components of Lifting Cups.”  Frontiers in Psychology,

Besser and team studied the responses of several older user groups to neighborhood design.  More specifically, they “examined whether neighborhood built environment (BE) and cognition associations in older adults vary by apolipoprotein E (APOE) genotype, a genetic risk factor for Alzheimer's disease (AD). . . .  Neighborhood characteristics included social and walking destination density (SDD, WDD), intersection density, and proportion of land dedicated to retail. Individuals were categorized as APOE ε2 (lower AD risk), APOE ε4 (higher AD risk), or APOE ε3 carriers. Among APOE ε2 carriers, greater proportion of land dedicated to retail was associated with better global cognition, and greater SDD, WDD, intersection density, and proportion of land dedicated to retail was associated with better processing speed. These associations were not observed in APOE ε3 or ε4 carriers.”  So, the cognitive benefits that might result from living in neighborhoods that could promote walkability, etc., may be most available to people with a relatively lower risk for Alzheimer’s disease.

Lilah Besser, James Galvin, Daniel Rodriguez, Teresa Seeman, Walter Kukull, Stephen Rapp, and Jennifer Smith. 2019.  “Associations Between Neighborhood Built Environment and Cognition Vary By Apolipoproteain E Genotype:  Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis.”  Health and Place, vol. 60, 102188,

Stappers and colleagues investigated how user perceptions of neighborhood walkability influence movement by different groups.  They determined via data collected in The Netherlands that “individuals with a lower level of education or health-related problems spent more time in the home neighborhood. The perceived neighborhood walkability only affected [empirically measured] NB-PA [neighborhood-based physical activity] for individuals spending a relatively large amount of time in their home neighborhood. PA-facilitating features in the home neighborhood, for example, aesthetics, were only associated with more NB-PA for individuals without health-related problems or with a higher level of education. . . . the presence of PA-facilitating characteristics was only associated with MVPA [moderate to vigorous physical activity] for higher educated individuals, or individuals without health-related problems. On the contrary, the absence of PA-hindering factors, such as the lack of parking spaces, was only associated with more MVPA for the less advantaged [based on educational level and health-related problems].” The questionnaire assessing perceived walkability covered “access to facilities, aesthetics, infrastructure and safety for walking, traffic hazards, crime, lack of parking spaces, hilliness, and physical barriers.”  

N. Stappers, J. Schpperijn, S. Kremers, , M. Bekker, M. Jansen, N. de Vries, and D. Van Kann. “Combining Accelerometry and GPS to Assess Neighborhood-Based Physical Activity:  Associations with Perceived Neighborhood Walkability.”  Environment and Behavior, in press,


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