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Research linking clothing worn and food selections may indicate an effect that can be broadened to environmental design; future research will confirm such a link, or not. Wang and teammates found that “formal and informal clothes styles can activate different clothes-image associations and thus make consumers more likely choose a food type (healthy or unhealthy) that is congruent with a specific set of clothes-image associations, referred to as clothes-food congruence. For example, wearing formal clothes can activate such formal-clothes associations as being self-controlled and organized. Formal- (vs. informal-) clothes associations are perceived to be congruent with healthy (vs. unhealthy) food choices. Hence, we suggest that clothes-food congruence mediates the relationship between clothes-image associations and food choice.”

Xuehua Wang, Xiaoyu Wang, Jing Lei, and Mike Chao.  “The Clothes That Make You Eat Healthy:  The Impact of Clothes Style on Food Choice.”  Journal of Business Research, in press, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jbusres.2020.10.063

Research confirms that trees do indeed add value to our lives.  Kuo, Klein, Browning, and Zaplatosch collected data for 450 schools and 50,000 students in communities ranging from rural to urban in Washington State and report that “‘Hundreds of studies show a positive link between contact with nature and learning outcomes. . . . We wanted to make sure the same pattern was true in this vulnerable and overlooked population,’ says Ming Kuo. . . . Even after taking a whopping 17 variables into account including student demographics, school resources, and neighborhood characteristics, Kuo and her co-authors found that the more tree cover around a school, the better its standardized test scores in both math and reading. . . . [researchers] compared the importance of greenness in different buffer zones around schools, within 250 meters (around two blocks) and 1000 meters. It turned out trees closer to the schools made all the difference, even when controlling for greenness at farther distances. In other words, even if the larger neighborhood was leafy, students were no better off if the schoolyard wasn’t.” This study is published in Landscape and Urban Planning.

“Trees Set Sixth-Graders Up for Success.”  2020.  Press release, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, https://aces.illinois.edu/news/trees-set-sixth-graders-success

Nature around our home may help reduce some of the negative psychological effects of the current pandemic.  According to a study published in Ecological Applications, data collected online in Tokyo “quantified the link between five mental-health outcomes (depression, life satisfaction, subjective happiness, self-esteem, and loneliness) and two measures of nature experiences (frequency of greenspace use and green view through windows from home). More frequent greenspace use and the existence of green window views from the home were associated with increased levels of self-esteem, life satisfaction, and subjective happiness, as well as decreased levels of depression and loneliness. ‘Our results suggest that nearby nature can serve as a buffer in decreasing the adverse impacts of a very stressful event on humans,’ said lead author Masashi Soga.”

“A Regular Dose of Nature May Improve Mental Health During the COVID-19 Pandemic.”  Press release, Wiley, https://newsroom.wiley.com/press-releases/press-release-details/2020/A-R...

Research published in Current Biologyindicates why we may experience particular colors in certain ways. Rosenthal, Singh, Hermann, Pantazis, and Conway “decoded brain maps of human color perception. . . .  colors were presented at two luminance levels – light and dark. . . . study participants had unique patterns of brain activity for each color. With enough data, the researchers could predict . . . what color a volunteer was looking at. . . . in a variety of languages and cultures, humans have more distinct names for warm colors (yellows, reds, oranges, browns) than for cool colors (blues, greens). It’s long been known that people consistently use a wider variety of names for the warm hues at different luminance levels (e.g. “yellow” versus “brown”) than for cool hues (e.g. “blue” is used for both light and dark). The new discovery shows that brain activity patterns vary more between light and dark warm hues than for light and dark cool hues.”

“Envision Color:  Activity Patterns in the Brain Are Specific to the Color You See.”  2020.  Press release, National Eye Institute, https://www.nei.nih.gov/about/news-and-events/news/envision-color-activi...

Research completed by Shen, Zhang, and Lian indicates there may be some gender-related differences in the experience of wooden environments.  The team shares that “Previous studies indicate that wood enenvironments could produce more positive emotions, more delightful sense of color, odor, light and less fatigue for occupants. . . .  The results [of the Shen-lead study] showed that: (1) female participants felt more warmth and brightness in the wooden rooms; (2) female participants’ olfactory sensation was 42% higher than male participant in the dark wooden room but experienced a greater decrease after a 50-min adaptation; (3) female participants reported more confusion and fatigue feelings while male participants reported more vigor feelings in different conditions. . . . obvious gender differences existed in human psychological responses to the changes of wooden environment, with different wood colors and coverage rates.”  Additional studies are required to develop a greater understanding of gender-related effects and how they should be reflected in practice.

Jingyun Shen, Xi Zhang, and Zhiwej Lian.  “Gender Differences in Human Psychological Responses to Wooden Indoor Environment.” European Journal of Wood and Wood Products,” in press, https://doi.org/10.1007/s00107-020-01561-6

Kent and Schiavon studied items seen through windows.  They report that when they used images “to represent window views. . . . results showed that people are more satisfied when features are far away. . . . occupants prefer urban features to be viewed from a distance, whereas this same recommendation does not apply for nature.. . .  While distant visual content has the additional benefit of providing visual relief, it may not always be possible to provide these types of window views. If designers are not able to provide distant content in the window view due to barriers imposed by site-selection (e.g. in a city-centre), a countermeasure could be to promote window view quality by integrating nature (e.g. trees and plants) nearby. However, this does not necessarily imply that nature should be viewed as close as possible in the window view as its content might then obstruct other desirable attributes needed in the view (e.g. the sky).”

Michael Kent and Stefano Schiavon.  2020. “Evaluation of the Effect of Landscape Distance Seen in Window Views on Visual Satisfaction.”  Building and Environment, vol. 183, 107160, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.buildenv.2020.107160

Ross, Meloy, and Bolton studied how disorder influences de-cluttering.  The team found that when they “investigate[d] how dis/order (messy vs. tidy items) affects downsizing [they found], across nine focal studies, that a) consumers retain fewer items when choosing from a disorder set because b) order facilitates the comparisons within category that underlie the tendency to retain items. . . . Though consumers’ lay beliefs favor rejecting from order (i.e., choosing what to get rid of from tidy items), our findings point to the usefulness of selecting from disorder (i.e., choosing what to keep from messy items) as a downsizing strategy.  Together, this research has implications for consumer downsizing activities, the burgeoning home organization and storage industries, as well as sustainability.”

Gretchen Ross, Margaret Meloy, and Lisa Bolton.  “Disorder and Downsizing.”  Journal of Consumer Research, in press, https://doi.org/10.1093/jcr/ucaa051

Wang and Zhao evaluated how the presence or absence of evergreen trees influences environmental preferences and psychological restoration.  They report that “Evergreen plants can mediate landscape changes across seasons and increase greenness when deciduous trees are leafless. . . . this study conducted an experiment, in which, based on four photographs taken on a site in four seasons, 24 images were created using the photomontage technique by adding evergreen trees to the original pictures. The results indicated that: (1) evergreen plants significantly improved the landscape preference only in spring; (2) significant effects of evergreen plants on psychological restoration in spring, autumn and winter were noted and (3) types and amounts of evergreen trees had non-significant impacts on year-round preference and restoration. Additionally, seasonal transformation had an essential impact on both preference and restoration.”

Ronghua Wang and Jingwei Zhao.  2020.  “Effects of Evergreen Trees on Landscape Preference and Perceived Restorativeness Across Seasons.”  Landscape Research, vol. 45, no. 5, pp. 649-661, https://doi.org/10.1080/01426397.2019.1699507

Research by Jin, Jin, and Kang confirms that there are complex interrelationships between our sensory experiences.  The trio probed how hearing various sounds at different volumes influences perceived environmental temperatures.  They determined via a lab-based study that “acoustic evaluations were significantly higher for birdsong and slow-dance music than for dog barking, conversation, and traffic sound. . . . In summer, birdsong and slow-dance music effectively improved subjects’ thermal evaluations, while a high sound level of dog barking, conversation, and traffic sound resulted in a decrease; in the transition season, all types of sounds resulted in a decline in the thermal evaluations; meanwhile, in winter and summer, dog barking, conversation, traffic sound and slow-dance music at the low sound level produced higher thermal comfort and thermal acceptability. In terms of the overall evaluations, birdsong and slow-dance music at the low sound level improved overall comfort, while dog barking, conversation, and traffic sound resulted in a significant decrease. For dog barking, conversation, traffic sound and fast-dance music, the overall evaluations at the low sound level were higher than those at the high sound level.”

Yumeng Jin, Hong Jin, and Jian Kang.  2020. “Effects of Sound Types and Sound Levels on Subjective Environmental Evaluations in Different Seasons.” Building and Environment, vol. 183, 107215, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.buildenv.2020.107215

Older individuals whose homes are more accessible are less likely to feel depressed, according to a recently published study.  Vitman-Schorr and colleagues identified, via interviewing people over 65 years old, “a direct negativeeffect between perceived accessibility and depressive symptoms. . . . The findings indicate that policy makers and professionals working with older adults should seek methods for enhancing both accessibility and social relationships in order to alleviate the depressive symptoms of older adults.”  The researchers shared that “Perceived accessibility was measured by asking respondents the following question: ‘How satisfied are you with the options you have to go from place to place?’ . . . The question . . . provides an overall understanding of the perceived accessibility of the environment without asking multiple questions concerning modes of mobility . . . that may corrupt the results. For instance, if an older adult has walking problems but the living environment is well-served by public transportation, the person-environment fit might be high and hence satisfaction from the living environment might be high.”

Adi Vitman-Schorr, Liat Ayalon, and Snait Tamir.  “The Relationship Between Satisfaction with the Accessibility of the Living Environment and Depressive Symptoms.”  Journal of Environmental Psychology, in press, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvp.2020.101527

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