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Researchers have determined that children as young as 3 respond positively to seeing fractal patterns, just as adults do.  Robles, Taylor, Sereno, Liaw, and Baldwin found that “Before their third birthdays, children already have an adult-like preference for visual fractal patterns commonly seen in nature. . . . We found that people [both adults and children] prefer the most common natural pattern, the statistical fractal patterns of low-moderate complexity . . . ’ Robles said. . . .  The aesthetic experience of viewing nature’s fractals holds huge potential benefits, ranging from stress-reduction to refreshing mental fatigue, said co-author Richard Taylor. . . . . [Taylor also states:] ‘This study shows that incorporating fractals into urban environments can begin providing benefits from a very early age.’. . . .[Taylor] and co-author Margaret Sereno . . . also have published on the positive aesthetic benefits of installing fractal solar panels and window blinds.”  The study by Robles team is published by Nature:  Humanities and Social Sciences Communication.

“Study Finds That by Age 3 Kids Prefer Nature’s Fractal Patterns.”  2020.  Press release, University of Oregon,

Corley and colleagues found relationships between spending time during the COVID pandemic  in home gardens and the wellbeing of older people (mean age of 84) living in Scotland. The researchers learned via an online survey in May/June 2020 that “Spending more time in a home garden associated with greater subjective wellbeing.  . . .Neither gardening nor relaxing in the garden were associated with health outcomes. However, higher frequency of garden usage during lockdown was associated with better self-rated physical health . . . emotional and mental health . . . sleep quality . . . and a composite health score. . . . None of the garden measures were associated with perceived change in physical health, mental and emotional health, or sleep quality, from pre-lockdown levels. The results of the current study provide support for positive health benefits of spending time in a garden—though associations may be bidirectional—and suggest that domestic gardens could be a potential health resource during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Janie Corley, Judith Okeley, Adele Taylor, Danielle Page, Miles Welstead, Barbora Skarabela, Paul Redmond, Simon Cox, and Tom Russ.  “Home Garden Use During COVID-19:  Associations with Physical and Mental Wellbeing in Older Adults.”  Journal of Environmental Psychology, in press,

Zhang, Gong, and Jiang evaluated how feeling nostalgic influences recycling behavior; research has repeatedly shown that design can encourage people to feel nostalgic.  The Zhang-lead team reports that “We suggest that nostalgia induces a sense of meaning, which in turn encourages customers to recycle more. . . . Study 1 (in a cafeteria) and Study 2 (in a lab) showed that nostalgia elicited by nostalgic music increased recycling behavior, while Study 3 found that nostalgia induced by nostalgic product designs improved recycling intentions. Finally, Study 4 indicated that nostalgia triggered by nostalgic memories augmented recycling intentions, and uncovered the underlying mechanism, a sense of meaning.”

Xiadan Zhang, Xiushuang Gong, and Jing Jiang.  “Dump or Recycle?  Nostalgia and Consumer Recycling Behavior.”  Journal of Business Research, in press,

Palomo-Velez and teammates assessed interpersonal implications of environmentally responsible behavior.  They determined that “sustainable consumption may communicate traits that are valued in romantic partners.  Sustainable consumers are perceived as attractive for both short and long-term romantic relationships. . . . [results] suggest that people presented as having purchased green products are perceived as more generous and more attractive as long-term – but also short-term – romantic partners. . . .  individuals primed to think about a romantic context are no more likely to prefer sustainable products, suggesting an actor-observer discrepancy that potentially adds to the honesty of the conspicuous conservation signal.”

Gonzalo Palomo-Velez, Joshua Tybur, and Mark van Vugt.  “Is Green the New Sexy?  Romantic [sic] of Conspicuous Conservation.”  Journal of Environmental Psychology, in press,

Wang and colleagues investigated responses to environmental advertisements, but their findings are applicable, outside the specific situation in which data were collected. The researchers report that their study indicates “a difference in beauty-related experience between warning- and vision-based advertisements, with higher scores in the ‘interesting’ dimensions and lower scores in the ‘boring’ ones, accompanied by the more intense ‘awesome,’ ‘inspiring,’ and ‘surprising’ experiences for warning-based than for vision-based advertisements. . . . If the natural environment of one place/region is adequate, it would seem more suitable to choose a vision-based appeal; otherwise, it would seem more appropriate to choose a warning-based appeal. . . . [analyses indicated] more negative emotional or aesthetic experiences for warning-based advertisements. More positive experiences were elicited by vision-based advertisements.” Information was provided about the types of advertisements viewed: “Warning-based advertisement aims to warn persons to focus on environmental issues and to persuade them to protect or beautify the environment by presenting negative or threatening environmental information or realities. . . . vision-based creative advertisements attempt to persuade individuals to protect the environment by presenting a beautiful ecological landscape or natural environment.”

Shen Wang, Meililao Yuan, Yuan Bai, and Meifena Hua. “Beauty is Not in the Eye But in the Inner Head: Evidence from Environmental Advertising.”  Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, in press,

Hughes and research partners developed the shared features principle. They provide details about the principle, which  “refers to the idea that when 2 stimuli share 1 feature, people often assume that they share other features as well. . . .  Our results indicate that behavioral intentions, automatic evaluations, and self-reported ratings of a target object were influenced by the source object with which the target shared a feature. This was even the case when participants were told that there was no relation between source and target objects. Taken together, the shared features principle appears to be general, reliable, and replicable across a range of measures in the attitude domain.”

Sean Hughes, Jan De Houwer, Simone Mattavelli, and Ian Hussey. 2020.  “The Shared Features Principle:  If Two Objects Share a Feature, People Assume Those Objects Also Share Other Features.”  Journal of Experimental Psychology:  General, vol. 149, no. 12, pp. 2264-2288,

Research conducted by Tarlao, Steffens, and Guastavino confirms the many factors can influence perceptions of sound being experienced besides the actual noises themselves. The team reports that “Previous soundscape research has shown a complex relationship between soundscapes, public space usage and contexts of users’ visits to the space. . . . The present study is a comparative analysis of in situquestionnaires collected over four study sites in Montreal . . . . in both French and English. . . .  The analyses. . .. . suggest[s] that younger people, women, and extraverted people occupy the public space more in groups, and that people in groups rate the soundscape as more pleasant and less eventful. Older people and women were found to be more sensitive to noise, and more sensitive people tended to perceive the soundscape as less pleasant and less monotonous.”

Cynthia Tarlao, Jochen Steffens, and Catherine Guastavino.  “Investigating Contextual Influences on Urban Soundscape Evaluations with Structural Equation Modeling.”  Building and Environment, in press, 

Researchers studying gestures across cultures have identified similarities and differences in their use that are relevant to people designing systems interfaces and other places/objects to be used by people from varying cultures. Zhang, Gai, Wu, Liu, Oiu, Wang, and Wang’s work with people from the US and China is discussed in a Penn State press release:  “Imagine changing the TV channel with a wave of your hand or turning on the car radio with a twist of your wrist.  Freehand gesture-based interfaces in interactive systems are becoming more common. . . . The team found that while many preferred commands were similar among both cultural groups, there were some gesture choices that differed significantly between the groups. For example, most American participants used a thumbs up gesture to confirm a task in the virtual reality environment, while Chinese participants preferred to make an OK sign with their fingers. To reject a phone call in the car, most American participants made a horizontal movement across their neck with a flat hand, similar to a “cut” motion, while Chinese participants waved a hand back and forth to reject the call.”  Findings are published in the International Journal of Human-Computer Studies.

“Researchers Study Influence of Cultural Factors on Gesture Design.”  2020.  Press release, Pennsylvania State University,

Methorst and colleagues investigated links between nearby species biodiversity and human wellbeing. The researchers report that they “examine[d] the relationship between species diversity and human well-being at the continental scale, while controlling for other known drivers of well-being. We related socio-economic data from more than 26,000 European citizens across 26 countries with macroecological data on species diversity and nature characteristics for Europe. Human well-being was measured as self-reported life-satisfaction and species diversity as the species richness of several taxonomic groups (e.g. birds, mammals and trees). . . . bird species richness is positively associated with life-satisfaction across Europe. We found a relatively strong relationship, indicating that the effect of bird species richness on life-satisfaction may be of similar magnitude to that of income. . . . this study argues that management actions for the protection of birds and the landscapes that support them would benefit humans.”

Joel Methorst, Katrin Rehdanz, Thomas Mueller, Bernd Hansjurgens, Aletta Bonn, and Katrin Bohning-Gaese.  “The Importance of Species Diversity for Human Well-Being in Europe.”  Ecological Economics, in press,

Research completed by a Mullen-lead team not only confirms the value of air outside being fresh, but also the advantages of air brought into buildings being “scrubbed.”  The investigators report that  “Fine particulate air pollution is harmful to children in myriad ways. While evidence is mounting that chronic exposures are associated with reduced academic proficiency, no research has examined the frequency of peak exposures. . . . [the researchers examined] the percentage of third grade students who tested below the grade level in math and English language arts (ELA) in Salt Lake County, Utah primary schools . . . where fine particulate pollution is a serious health threat. More frequent peak exposures were associated with reduced math and ELA proficiency, as was greater school disadvantage. High frequency peak exposures were more strongly linked to lower math proficiency in more advantaged schools. Findings highlight the need for policies to reduce the number of days with peak air pollution.”

Casey Mullen, Sara Grineski, Timothy Collins, and Daniel Mendoza. 2020.   “Effects of PM2.5 on Third Grade Students’ Proficiency in Math and English Language Arts.”  International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, vol. 17, no. 18, 6931,


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