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Researchers evaluated how perceptions of park safety influence user experiences. Orstad, Jay, Szuhany, Thorpe, and Tamura (findings published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health) found that “New Yorkers are more likely to exercise in a park if they believe they live very close to it [a less than 5-minute walk away compared to a 30-minute walk]. In turn, they feel less anxious and less depressed the more often they exercise there—but only if they are not concerned about being safe. . . . Many past studies have linked the availability of urban green spaces to lower stress levels, weight, and risk of heart disease. . . . Other work has shown that living closer to a park leads to fewer days of anxiety and depression. . . . the closeness of a local park made no difference in park use for those who worried about crime in the area. . . . improving cleanliness and lighting along paths, offering more park-based programs, and fostering a sense of community could help make parks feel safer.”

“Mental Health Benefits of Parks Dimmed by Safety Concerns.”  2020.  Press release, NYU Langone Health, https://nyulangone.org/news/mental-health-benefits-parks-dimmed-safety-c...

Novotny and colleagues probed how children’s experiences of nature are evolving over time.  They “compared the experience with nature of today’s children with data from the beginning of the 20th century to determine whether we can confirm a loss of experience and contribute to the description of changes in children’s relationship with nature. . . . Results from contemporary participants . . . showed no difference in level of experience according to the age of the respondents. Comparing historical data . . . we found a significant increase in contemporary children’s summary experiences. Although children of the 21st century have less experience with traditional extensive farming activities and biotechnologies, they have much more experience with nature, apparently connected with recreational and field-trip activities. We cannot confirm a decrease in experience among generations, on the contrary, we found a summary increase in experience.”

Petr Novotny, Eliska Zimova, Aneta Mazouchova, and Agrej Sorgo.  “Are Children Actually Losing Contact with Nature, Or Is It That Their Experiences Differ from Those of 120 Years Ago?”  Environment and Behavior, in press, https://doi.org/10.1177%2F0013916520937457

Szubielska and Niestorowicz evaluated how responses to tactile art, art developed for people who are visually impaired, are influenced by being able to see that art.  They report that “By providing the context of a contemporary art exhibition designed to be touched, we studied haptic pleasure towards artworks. In line with our hypothesis, seeing affected the evaluation of haptic pleasure which was higher in the blindfolded-tactile than visuo-tactile condition. Thus, seeing seems to impede the tactile processing of artworks. . . . it seems that sight may suppress the haptic pleasure coming from touching art. . . . Hence, exposing artworks illuminated with muffled light or unlighted may increase the likelihood of experiencing haptic aesthetic pleasure when touching art.”

Magdalena Szubielska and Ewa Niestorowicz.  2020. “Seeing Suppresses Haptic Please While Perceiving Contemporary Art.”  i-Perception, vol. 11, no. 3, https://doi.org/10.1177/2041669520932948

Neal probed factors that influence people’s satisfaction with their neighborhood and his findings are published in Urban Studies.  Neal determined that “’Contrary to what many would think, characteristics of your neighborhood have little to do with how satisfied you are with it’ [quote attributed to Neal]. . . . Neal’s research revisited findings from 27 earlier studies that spanned 11 countries in North America, Europe and Asia, and included a sample of more than 250,000 adults living in those neighborhoods. . . . By combining each study’s estimate using meta-analysis, Neal computed a more precise estimate of the true impact of neighborhoods. He found that all the characteristics of a community neighborhood — from curb appeal to its services, like snow plowing — account for just about 16% of a person’s satisfaction with the neighborhood.”

“It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood . . . Or Is It?”  2020.  Press release, Michigan State University, https://msutoday.msu.edu/news/2020/its-a-beautiful-day-in-the-neighborho...

Zhang and Zhang investigated ties between spatial size and assessments of wealth.  They report that they “explored whether social categorization based on wealth, which is an important dimension of social categorization, involved perceptual simulation of spatial size. . . . three experiments showed that responses to wealth-related stimuli in larger font were faster relative to those to the same stimuli in small font, and vice versa for poverty-related stimuli. These results suggest that social categorization based on wealth is grounded in perceptual simulation of spatial size.”

Xiaobin Zhang and Zhe Zhang. “Spatial Size Can Affect Social Categorization of the Rich and the Poor.”  Frontiers in Psychology, in press, doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.01914

Man, Zhu, and Sun investigated how workplace accommodations influence employee creativity.  As the researchers report, “In the workplace, not only employees with disabilities ask for workplace accommodation to better perform in the job but also the older workers, pregnant women, and employees with religious needs and with family responsibilities need workplace accommodations.”  Workplace accommodations were defined by Man, Zhu, and Sun as they were by Colella and Bruyere (2011, p. 478): “’modifications in the job, work environment, work process, or conditions of work that reduce physical and social barriers so that people with disabilities experience equal opportunity in a competitive work environment.’” Man’s team determined that “workplace accommodation promotes employee creative performance. . . . the positive relationship . . . [is] stronger for employees with a lower level of disability severity. . . . workplace accommodation is not only essential for including employees with disabilities but also helpful in boosting the creative performance of all employees.”

Xiangyu Man, Xiji Zhu, and Cong Sun.  2020.  “The Positive Effect of Workplace Accommodation on Creative Performance of Employees With and Without Disabilities.”  Frontiers in Psychology, https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.01217

Abeyta, Routledge, and Kaslon’s work indicates how design may be used to counter loneliness, to some extent.  The team found that “Loneliness is difficult to overcome, in part because it is associated with negative social cognitions and social motivations. We argue that nostalgia, a positive emotional experience that involves reflecting on cherished memories, is a psychological resource that regulates these maladaptive intrapsychic tendencies associated with loneliness. . . . results provided support that nostalgia mitigates [lessens] reduced social confidence and low approach-oriented social goals/intentions associated with loneliness. . . . This weakening appeared to be due to nostalgia’s positive effect on social confidence and approach-oriented social goals/intentions, respectively, particularly at high levels of loneliness. . . . nostalgia increased intentions to engage in a social interaction when people were made to feel lonely. . . . feelings of nostalgia are associated with stronger social confidence.”  Prior research, completed by Zhou and colleagues in 2008, determined that nostalgia encourages impressions of social support.  The Abeyta-lead team report that feelings of nostalgia can be generated via familiar scents or music, for instance.  

Andrew Abeyta, Clay Routledge, and Samuel Kaslon.  2020. “Combating Loneliness with Nostalgia: Nostalgic Feelings Attenuate Negative Thoughts and Motivations Associated with Loneliness.”  Frontiers in Psychology, https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.01219

Researchers linked living in walkable neighborhoods to living longer.  A study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, based on data collected in Washington state, written by Amram, Bhardwaj, Amiri, and Buchwald, determined that people “who live in highly walkable, mixed-age communities may be more likely to live to their 100th birthday. [Researchers] also found socioeconomic status to be correlated, and an additional analysis showed that geographic clusters where the probability of reaching centenarian age is high are located in urban areas and smaller towns with higher socioeconomic status, including the Seattle area and the region around Pullman, Washington. . . neighborhood walkability, higher socioeconomic status, and a high percentage of working age population (a measure of age diversity) were positively correlated with reaching centenarian status.”

“Centenarian Study Suggests Living Environment May Be Key to Longevity.”  2020.  Press release, Washington State University (Judith Van Dongen), https://news.wsu.edu/2020/06/17/centenarian-study-suggests-living-enviro...

The AIA has released a report “detailing strategies that can reduce risk of COVID-19 transmission in K-12 facilities.”  It is available at the web address noted below.  As the  AIA website noted below continues: “The report and 3D models were developed by a team of architects, public health experts, engineers and facility managers as part of AIA’s initiative, ‘Reopening America:  Strategies for safer buildings.’  The team used emerging research and public health data to develop the strategies, which can be implemented immediately.”        

https://www.aia.org/resources/6304062-strategies-for-safer-schools

Huang and Sengupta studied how thinking about disease influences decisions made.  They investigated “how exposure to disease-related cues influences consumers’ preference for typical (vs. atypical) product options. . . . we predict that disease salience decreases relative preference for typical versus atypical options, because typical products are implicitly associated with many people, misaligning them with the people-avoidance motive triggered by disease cues. . . . we argue that the focal effect will not manifest when the disease in question is explicitly described to be non-contagious, or when an anti-infection intervention is introduced, or when the decision context involves minimum infection.”

Yunhui Huang and Jaideep Sengupta.  “The influence of Disease Cues on Preference for Typical Versus Atypical Products.”  Journal of Consumer Research, in press, https://doi.org/10.1093/jcr/ucaa029

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