Latest Blog Posts
Furhapper and colleagues investigated the experience of living in newly-built timber homes. They conducted a “study [that] included a comparison of the construction types timber-frame (TF) and solid wood (SF), in addition two different ventilation types, controlled vs. window ventilation. . . The emission progression of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) including formaldehyde, was recorded and compared with the subjective well-being of the residents . . . VOC-emissions were initially elevated regardless of construction and ventilation type. However, after a period of up to 8 months emissions mostly decreased to an average level. . . . The use of controlled ventilation systems resulted in lower VOC-concentrations and thus in higher IAQ compared to window ventilation. From a toxicological point of view the major part of the investigated houses were unobtrusive and IAQ was considered as ‘high’ or ‘satisfactory.’ Residents were continuously very satisfied with their health and quality of life. This perception was confirmed by the results gained from the accompanying medical examinations.”
Christina Furhapper, Elisabeth Habla, Daniel Stratev, Martin Weigl, and Karl Dobianer. 2020. “Living Conditions in Timber Homes: Emission Trends and Indoor Air Quality.” Frontiers in Built Environment, https://doi.org/10.3389/fbuil.2019.00151
Only a few designers actually develop camouflage, but learning more about camouflage generally has the potential to be handy in a number of situations/settings. Smart, Cuthill and Scott-Samuel report in a study (done with human participants) published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B that “movement doesn't always break camouflage and if an animal needs to move, animals that are unpatterned and use short, fast movements are less likely to be located by predators. . . . Ioan Smart . . . lead author, said: ‘Our research has shown. . . . Localisation can be reduced, if the moving target is unpatterned, has the mean brightness of the background, it does not use a startle display before moving, and uses short, fast movements.’” Study participants were “tasked with localising upon a target displayed on peripherally viewed computer screens.”
“Animals Should Use Short, Fast Movements to Avoid Being Located.” 2020. Press release, University of Bristol, http://www.bristol.ac.uk/news/2020/january/camouflage-.html
Gerger and colleagues studied how being exposed to images with more positive or more negative content influences aesthetic assessments. They “presented emotion primes . . . consisting of either emotional faces or scenes, further subdivided in disgusting, fearful, neutral, or positive emotional content and tested how liking, valence, and arousal ratings of abstract patterns were affected. . . . primes influenced ratings in an emotion congruent manner in both faces and emotional scenes. Stimuli were rated as more liked and positively valenced after positive primes and less liked/more negatively valenced after fear or disgust primes.”
Gernot Gerger, Matthew Pelowski, and Tomohiro Ishizu. 2019. “Does Priming Negative Emotions Really Contribute to More Positive Aesthetic Judgments? A Comparative Study of Emotion Priming Paradigms Using Emotional Faces Versus Emotional Scenes and Multiple Negative Emotions with fEMG.” Emotion, vo. 19, no. 8, pp. 1396-1413, https://doi.org/10.1037/emo0000528
Buruck lead a team that linked job control and chronic lower back pain (CLBP). Job control was described as including decision authority and skill discretion; it is reasonable to tie this definition to comfortable levels of control over the physical work environment, choices of where to work, and similar factors. Buruck and colleagues learned via a literature review and meta-analysis that “CLBP was significantly positively related to workload . . . and significantly negatively related to overall job control . . . decision authority . . . and two measures of social support. . . . Our results support employees’ workload, job control, and social support as predictors of CLBP.” The Baruck group’s findings may also help explain user reports of chronic lower back pain in settings with positive ergonomic conditions.
Gabriele Buruck, Anne Tomaschek, Johannes Wendsche, Elke Ochsmann, and Denise Dorfel. 2019. “Psychosocial Areas of Worklife and Chronic Low Back Pain: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.” BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders, vol. 20, no. 480, https://doi.org/10.1186/s12891-019-2826-3
Fondren, Swierk, and Putman investigated links between the colors we wear and how animals who see those colors behave; expanding the Fondren lead team’s findings to colors used among animals generally seems plausible. The research trio “tested whether human clothing color affects water anole [lizards] (Anolis aquaticus) behavior at a popular ecotourism destination in Costa Rica. . . .We examined whether clothing resembling the primary signaling color (orange) of water anoles increases number of anole sightings and ease of capture. Research teams . . . search[ed] for anoles wearing one of three shirt treatments: orange, green, or blue. . . . Wearing orange clothing resulted in more sightings and greater capture rates compared with blue or green. A higher proportion of males were captured when wearing orange whereas sex ratios of captured anoles were more equally proportional in the surveys when observers wore green or blue. . . . colors ‘displayed’ by perceived predators (i.e., humans) alter antipredator behaviors in water anoles. Clothing choice could have unintended impacts on wildlife, and wearing colors resembling the sexually selected signaling color might enhance tolerance toward humans.”
Andrea Fondren, Lindsey Swierk, and Breanna Putman. “Clothing Color Mediates Lizard Responses to Humans in a Tropical Forest.” Biotropica, in press, https://doi.org/10.1111/btp.12744
Researchers have linked urban experiences and green behavior. A press release from the University of Exeter reports that “People who live in more built up areas and spend less free-time in nature are also less likely to take actions that benefit the environment, such as recycling, buying eco-friendly products, and environmental volunteering. . . .policies to preserve and develop urban green spaces, and support urban populations reconnect with nearby nature, could help meet sustainability targets and reduce carbon emissions.. . . Dr. Ian Alcock . . . said: ‘. . . Greening our cities is often proposed to help us adapt to climate change – for example, city parks and trees can reduce urban heat spots. But our results suggest urban greening could help reduce the damaging behaviours which cause environmental problems in the first place by reconnecting people to the natural word.’” Ian Alcock is the lead author of this study, which is published in Environment International.
“Reconnecting With Nature Key for Sustainability.” 2020. Press release, University of Exeter, https://medicine.exeter.ac.uk/news/articles/reconnectingwithnaturekey.html
Browning and colleagues have determined that virtual nature experiences can have the same effects on mental health as “real” ones. The team reports that “Nature exposure in virtual reality (VR) can provide emotional well-being benefits for people who cannot access the outdoors. . . . [the researchers compared] the effects of 6 min of outdoor nature exposure with 6 min of exposure to a 360-degree VR nature video, which is recorded at the outdoor nature exposure location. Skin conductivity, restorativeness, and mood before and after exposure are measured. We find that both types of nature exposure increase physiological arousal, benefit positive mood levels, and are restorative compared to an indoor setting without nature; however, for outdoor exposure, positive mood levels increase and for virtual nature, they stay the same. . . . Settings where people have limited access to nature might consider using VR nature experiences to promote mental health.”
Matthew Browning, Katherine Mimnaugh, Carena van Riper, Heidemarie Laurent, and Steven LaValle. 2020. “Can Simulated Nature Support Mental Health? Comparing Short, Single-Does of 360-Degree Nature Videos in Virtual Reality with the Outdoors.” Frontiers in Psychology, https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.02667
Researchers from McGill and the University of California, Santa Cruz have identified a cause of increasing urban sprawl. Barrington-Leigh and Millard-Ball report that “the local streets of the world’s cities are becoming less connected, a global trend that is driving urban sprawl and discouraging the use of public transportation. . . . in large parts of the world, recent urban growth has increasingly resulted in inflexible and disconnected street networks. . . . Gridded street networks . . . promote efficient, dense urban form in Bolivia, Argentina and Peru. Germany, Denmark and the UK have been able to maintain moderate levels of street connectivity thanks to pedestrian and bicycle pathways, offering greater connectivity to non-motorized travel. . . . Past research has shown that the increased accessibility offered by gridded street networks makes walking, cycling and the use of public transit much simpler while cul-de-sacs tend to encourage the use of personal motorized vehicles.” Data were collected from OpenStreetMap and via satellites and findings are published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
“Street Network Patterns Reveal Worrying Worldwide Trend Towards Urban Sprawl.” 2020. Press release, McGill University, https://www.mcgill.ca/newsroom/channels/news/street-network-patterns-reveal-worrying-worldwide-trend-towards-urban-sprawl-304103
Meredith and colleagues investigated the mental health consequences of college students spending time in nature. They determined via a literature review that “when contrasted with equal durations spent in urbanized settings, as little as 10 min of sitting or walking in a diverse array of natural settings significantly and positively impacted defined psychological and physiological markers of mental well-being for college-aged individuals.”
Genevive Meredith, Donald Rakow, Erin Eldermire, Cecelia Madsen, Steven Shelley, and Naomi Sachs. 2020. “Minimum Time Dose in Nature to Positively Impact the Mental Health of College-Aged Students, and How to Measure It: A Scoping Review.” Frontiers in Psychology, https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.02942
Jung, Mood, and Nelson identified one of the reasons that users’ actual in-place experiences may not align with what other people anticipate they will be. The Jung-lead team determined that “when making predictions about others, people rely on their intuitive core representation of the experience (e.g., is the experience generally positive?) in lieu of a more complex representation that might also include countervailing aspects (e.g., is any of the experience negative?). . . . the overestimation bias is pervasive for a wide range of positive . . . and negative experiences. . . . relative to themselves, people believe that an identically paying other will get more enjoyment from the same experience, but paradoxically, that an identically enjoying other will pay more for the same experience.” We feel that others’ experiences will be more purely positive or negative than ours are in the same situations. So, in short, we estimate that, compared to ourselves, other people will pay or wait more for an experience seen as desirable, as well as will enjoy it more when it is in-process. With undesirable experiences, we estimate other people will be willing to pay more to avoid them and that others will find them worse than we would.
Minah Jung, Alice Mood, and Leif Nelson. “Overestimating the Valuations and Preferences of Others.” Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, in press, https://doi.org/10.1037/xge0000700