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Soares and colleagues researched which sorts of places people felt they were most likely to have shared knowledge/ideas in.  The team learned via data collected at two sorts of Dutch university campuses (inner city ones and “science parks”) that “locations of built environment features influenced creativity between people. . . .  ‘creativity’ or ‘creative encounters’ were represented by the act of sharing knowledge and the exchange of ideas with others. . . . At inner-city campuses, creativity was localized in one or two spots, and somewhat dependent on university buildings. This was different for SPs as there was a greater variety of creative encounters throughout the campuses, proving that creativity did not necessarily depend on buildings. . . . The presence of ‘third places’, such as cafés, restaurants, and canteens, have the power of facilitating a sense of community-gathering on campus and consequently communication between people from multiple backgrounds. . . . even though . . . natural features could be significant for creativity, in the cases of Dutch inner-city campuses and science parks, their presence did not necessarily play a role in the number of creative encounters.”

Isabelle Soares, Viktor Venhorst, Gerd Weitkamo, and Claudia Yamu.  2022.  “The Impact of the Built Environment on Creativity in Public Spaces of Dutch University Campuses and Science Parks.”  Journal of Urban Design, vol. 27, no. 1, pp. 91-109,

In a study perfect for Halloween but just released, Tashjian and collegues report on just what happens to us when we’re in a scary place (for this project, a haunted house with 17 rooms) and the social nature of fear-type responses.  They share that “Threats elicit physiological responses, the frequency and intensity of which have implications for survival. Ethical and practical limitations on human laboratory manipulations present barriers to studying immersive threat. . . . The current . . . study measured electrodermal [on skin electrical] activity in 156 adults while they participated in small groups [composed of friends and strangers] in a 30-min haunted-house experience involving various immersive threats. Results revealed positive associations between . . .friends and tonic [persistent] arousal, (b) unexpected attacks and phasic [transitory, fleeting] activity . . . Findings demonstrate the relevance of (a) social dynamics (friends vs. strangers) for tonic arousal and (b) subjective fear and threat predictability for phasic arousal.”  So, the more friends people toured the haunted house with, the greater their physical responses to “threats” encountered; it seems we pick up signals sent by those co-experiencing friends.   Also, unexpected scary events produce more intense responses than more predictable ones.

Sarah Tashjian, Virginia Fedrigo, Tanaz Molapur, Dean Mobbs, and Colin Camerer.  “Physiological Responses to a Haunted-House Threat Experience:  Distinct Tonic and Phasic Effects.”  Psychological Science, in press,

Van Dijk-Wesselius and colleagues studied how children (their sample was 7 – 11 years old) responded during recess breaks when additional plants are added to their schoolyards.  The team determined via data collected through videotaping at 5 primary schools (all of whose school yards were paved when baseline measurements were taken) in The Netherlands that “Results show an increase in observed play, as compared to non-play, behavior, after greening. Furthermore, there was an increase in games-with-rules, a small increase in constructive and explorative play behavior, and a decrease in passive non-play behaviors. This impact of greening was stronger for girls compared to boys.” Also, “The finding that greening increased the prevalence of constructive and exploratory play, is in line with the assumption that greening schoolyards creates a more fascinating, unpredictable and flexible environment that affords more varied play behavior compared to paved schoolyards. . . . children still predominantly engaged in functional play [use of objects as they were intended] and games-with-rules in their new green schoolyard.” Two key definitions “Constructive play – manipulation of objects to construct or ‘create’ something. . .  Exploratory play - a focused examination of objects (or other people or situations) in the environment.”  Data were gathered during a baseline period and again after two years had passed.

Janke van Dijk-Wesselius, Jolanda Maas, Mark van Vugt, and Agnes van den Berg.  “A Comparison of Children’s Play and Non-Play Behavior Before and After Schoolyard Greening Monitored by Video Observations.”  Journal of Environmental Psychology, in press,

Research conducted by a Kerimova-lead team indicates how different the space assessments of different user groups can be.  They determined via an eye-tracking based study that “Green zones and parking lots differentially affect the preferences of people who own cars and those who do not. . . . Two interest groups—. . . people who owned a car and . . . people who did not a car—observed . . . images of courtyards. Images were digitally modified to manipulate the spatial arrangement of key courtyard elements: green zones, parking lots, and children’s playgrounds. The participants were asked to rate the attractiveness of courtyards during hypothetical renting decisions. . . . The results . . . indicate that urban greenery may differentially affect the preferences of interest groups.”  For car owners, courtyards packed with parking spaces but no trees were less unappealing than they were to people who didn't own cars.  Car owners were likely to respond particularly strongly and positively to the presence of greenery in courtyards, however.  So the car owners seem to strongly value both the parking spaces and the greenery.

Nadezhda Kerimova, Pavel Sivokhin, Diana Kodzokova, Karine Nikogosyan, and Vasily Klucharev.  2022.  “Visual Processing of Green Zones in Shared Courtyards During Renting Decisions:  An Eye-Tracking Study.”  Urban Forestry and Urban Greening, vol. 68, 127460,

Muth and Carbon studied ambivalent art (specifically photographs) and our responses to it.  First, a definition, “Ambivalence describes a conflict between contrasting valences, for example, when an image appears bitter but sweet.” The researchers conducted “two studies with artistic photographs examining the relationship between ambivalence and interest. The first study utilized explicit evaluations and revealed a positive relationship between estimated ambivalence and interest [more ambivalence, more interest]. . . . The second study utilized a forced-choice paradigm that was captured by a high-speed eyetracker. . . . When we asked participants which of two images they wanted to learn more about, they chose ambivalent photos more often and looked slightly longer at them.”

Claudia Muth and Claus-Christian Carbon.  “Ambivalence of Artistic Photographs Stimulates Interest and the Motivation to Engage.”  Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, in press,

Ming, Deng, and Wu determined that experiencing air-pollution has predictable effects on Earth friendly-type decisions, ones that design may need to help overcome.  The investigators found that “People are less willing to engage in PEB [pro-environmental behaviors] (e.g., purchasing pro-environmental products, recycling, sustainable travel, donation to environmental organizations) when air pollution is severe. . . . This is because the negative mood triggered by air pollution inhibits their willingness to engage in PEB.”

Yaxin Ming, Huixin Deng, and Xiaoyue Wu.  “The Negative Effect of Air Pollution on People’s Pro-Environmental Behavior.”Journal of Business Research, vol. 142, pp. 72-87,

Jie and Li link clues about product “newness” to selections made.  They found that “consumers exhibit mere newness preference across many product domains—preferring chronologically newer options over older options with no substantive benefits to newness. . . . consumers are willing to pay a newness premium even for mere newness. . . . Marketers can leverage mere newness preferences by using chronological cues to signal newness. In retail settings, stores can generate incidental newness cues with ‘Product of the Day’ displays to sell specific products even if no promotion is offered (e.g., ‘soup of the day’). . . .  Salespeople can also drum up additional interest for products by emphasizing that they are ‘newly arrived’ (e.g., cars on a lot), ‘just put on shelves’ (e.g., clothes), or even just pointing out that a product has a new advertisement on TV. . . . Part of the appeal of new products may just be that they are new.”

Yun Jie and Ye Li.  “Chronological Cues and Consumers’ Preference for Mere Newness.”  Journal of Retailing, in press,

Ramasubu and Bardhan’s work does not directly discuss providing workers with control of their physical environments, but the team’s findings can be extended to doing so.  The researchers report that they “assess the causal impacts of adopting an organizational policy that grants higher levels of autonomy to project teams. . . . we posit that an organizational policy that provides higher levels of autonomy for software teams engenders performance-enhancing adaptations through agile reconfigurations of project operations. To test our hypothesis, we collaborated with a commercial software firm and collected data from a policy experiment at the firm. We examined project-level data spanning a four-year observation period during which the firm implemented a new policy that significantly reduced the hurdles for project teams to autonomously reconfigure their operations. The results support our postulation . . . an organizational policy that provides greater autonomy to software teams for designing their context-specific project configurations can improve project performance.”

Narayan Ramasubu and Indranil Bardhan.  “Reconfiguring for Agility:  Examining the Performance Implications for Project Team Autonomy Through an Organizational Policy Experiment.”  MIS Quarterly, in press,

Eyal, and Robertson report on mentally refreshing breaks.  Among other material, they share that “Research shows that nature exposure is restorative for the mind.  One study reported better working memory scores after a walk in a natural environment, but not in an urban setting. . . . If you are stuck indoors, research shows that just looking at some photos of nature can help. . . . Every 20 minutes, stare at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds.  This type of break is restorative, Gazzaley and Rosen [authors of The Distracted Mind:  Ancient Brains in a High-Tech World] explain because it ‘requires blood flow to brain areas that are not related to sustained attention.’”

Nir Eyal and Chelsea Robertson.  2022.   “How to Take a Better Break.”  Psychology Today, vol. 55, no. 1, pp. 57-58.

Pic and Han evaluated how children play indoors and outside.  They report that their “study explored peer conflict among preschoolers during indoor and outdoor free play in a nature-based preschool.  We collected data through observations and video recordings. . . . The findings revealed differences in primary conflict catalysts between indoor and outdoor settings.  Play ideas was the main conflict catalyst in the outdoor setting, while distribution of resources was the primary conflict catalyst in the indoor setting.  The implications of the study suggest that outdoor nature environments seem to provide children more meaningful conflict situations around play ideas rather than the mere possession of material.”

Annette Pic and Myae Han.  2021.  “Meaning Conflicts n Nature?  Exploring Peer Conflict in a Nature Preschool During Outdoor and Indoor Play.”  Children, Youth and Environments, vol. 31, no. 2, pp. 116-136,


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