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Brutus, Javadian, and Panaccio linked commuting to work by bicycle to lower stress levels among those who biked to the office just after they arrived at work—which should encourage urban planners to design in bicycle lanes and others to create on-site bicycle storage facilities. The researchers learned that employees “who cycled to work were less stressed than their counterparts who arrived by car. However, there was no difference in mood among the different mode users [modes: biking to work, driving a car to work, or traveling to work via public transportation].” Participants were asked about their commuting-related stress within the first 45 minutes after they arrived at work.
Stephane Brutus, Roshan Javadian, and Alexandra Panaccio. 2017. “Cycling, Car, or Public Transit: A Study of Stress and Mood Upon Arrival at Work.” International Journal of Workplace Health Management, vol. 10, no. 1, pp. 13-24.
Rozenkrants, Wheeler, and Shiv studied how humans convey information about themselves through the products they choose. The researchers found that “Previous research has shown that material goods can help people self-express, either because the products are themselves self-expressive (e.g., a band t-shirt) or because the products are associated with a desired group.” The Rozenkrants lead team focused on how polarized opinions affect messages sent by objects. Polarization of opinions about products was described as occurring when “some people strongly like the product and other people strongly dislike the product.” Rozenkrants and colleagues found that “polarizing products are perceived to be more self-expressive and to serve as stronger indicators of one’s tastes and personality. . . . These effects emerge when the bimodal distribution [i.e., the polarizing factor] pertains to a self-expressive attribute (e.g., style) but not when it pertains to a non-self-expressive attribute (i.e., quality).”
Bella Rozenkrants, S. Wheeler, and Baba Shiv. “Self-Expression Cues in Product Rating Distributions: When People Prefer Polarizing Products.” Journal of Consumer Research, in press.
The sorts of sensory experiences we think about influence the opinions we form in intriguing ways. Elder and his team report that via multiple studies they found that “imagined senses that require close proximity to the body in order to be sensed (i.e., taste, touch)” affect our attitudes in different ways than those “that do not require such close proximity (i.e., hearing, sight)” (quotes from published study).
When people were asked to imagine the tastes they would experience at a restaurant, they reported that the restaurant in question was physically closer to their location than they did when they were asked to imagine the visual experiences they would have in that restaurant. When study participants read restaurant reviews that described proximal sensory experiences (those related to taste and touch) and were asked to make reservations at the restaurant they read about, they did so at sooner dates than participants who read reviews highlighting more distant (hearing, sight) sensory experiences.
Also, study participants “were randomly assigned to read one of two advertisements: a proximal advertisement focused on the touch experience of [a] football, or a distal advertisement focused on the sound the football made when squeezed. Next, participants were randomly assigned to either view the football in person, by opening a box to the side of the computer [they were working on] (but not to touch or move the football inside), or to view a picture of the football online. . . . when the football was presented in-person, the proximal advertisement led to higher [more positive] attitudes [toward the football] than the distal advertisement [statistically significant effect]. However, when the football was presented online, the distal advertisement led to higher attitudes than the proximal advertisement [effect not statistically significant, but nearly so].” [Details and quotes in last two paragraphs are from R. Elder, M. Poor, L. Xu. 2014. “So Close I Can Almost Sense it: The Impact of Differences in Sensory Imagery Distance on Consumer Attitudes and Intentions.” NA-Advances in Consumer Research, vol. 42, available at http://www.acrwebsite.org/volumes/v42/acr_v42_17281.pdf.]
Ryan Elder, Ann Schlosser, Morgan Poor, and Lidan Xu. “So Close I Can Almost Sense It: The Interplay Between Sensory Imagery and Psychological Distance.” Journal of Consumer Research, in press.
Ulset and her research team investigated links between time spent outside and cognitive development. The team conducted a study in Norway that “examined the . . . relations between the amount of time children [average age when study began was 52 months] attending daycare spend outdoors [in naturalistic settings] and their cognitive and behavioral development during preschool and first grade. . . . analyses showed a positive relation between outdoor hours and [development of attention skills] and an inverse relation between outdoor hours and [inattention-hyperactivity symptoms]. . . . outdoor time in preschool may support children's development of attention skills and protect against inattention-hyperactivity symptoms. . . . the findings from this study suggest that high exposure to outdoor environments might be a cheap, accessible and environmentally friendly way of supporting and enhancing children’s self-regulatory capacities and cognitive development. . . . Nature is easily accessible even in urban areas. Large cities usually have parks and vegetation. Placing daycare centers near parks enables daily trips to green environments.”
Vidar Ulset, Frank Vitaro, Mara Brendgen, Mona Bekkhus, and Anne Borge. 2017. “Time Spent Outdoors During Preschool: Links with Children’s Cognitive and Behavioral Development.” Journal of Environmental Psychology, vol. 52, pp. 69-80.
Want people to answer survey questions? Wear glasses when you talk to them. Gueguen and Martin report, “Several studies have shown that people photographed wearing eyeglasses were perceived more positively as to intelligence and honesty. However, the effect of wearing glasses on behavior and in real face-to-face relationships has never been examined. In two studies, interviewers wearing or not wearing eyeglasses were instructed to ask people in the street to respond to a survey. It was found that the compliance rate increased when the interviewer wore glasses. . . . the positive effect of eyeglasses was reported with both male and female participants and with both male and female interviewers; it was also observed in participants of different age groups. . . . the interviewer with eyeglasses was perceived as being more conscientious by the participants.”
Nicolas Gueguen and Angelique Martin. “Effect of Interviewer’s Eyeglasses on Compliance with a Face-to-Face Survey Request and Perception of the Interviewer.” Field Methods, in press.
Many researchers use experience sampling to collect information about user experiences in existing spaces as those experiences unfold. More specifically, experience sampling “is used to ‘sample’ from participant ‘experiences’ by asking them [the participants] to complete short surveys throughout the day.” A new app, available at http://www.experiencesampler.com, can streamline experience sampling. As Thai and Page-Gould state, “existing experience sampling methods may be costly, require constant Internet connectivity, may not be designed specifically for experience sampling studies, or require a custom solution from a computer programming consultant. . . . we present ExperienceSampler, an open-source scaffold for creating experience-sampling smartphone apps designed for Android and iOS devices. We designed ExperienceSampler to address the common barriers to using experience sampling methods. First, there is no cost to the user. Second, ExperienceSampler apps make use of local notifications to let participants know when to complete surveys and store the data locally until Internet connection is available. Third, our app scaffold was designed with experience sampling methodological issues in mind. . . . researchers can easily customize ExperienceSampler even if they have no programming skills.”
Sabrina Thai and Elizabeth Page-Gould. “ExperienceSampler: An Open-Source Scaffold for Building Smartphone Apps for Experience Sampling.” Psychological Methods, in press.
Garrett, Spreitzer, and Bacevice investigated the development of community at coworking sites. They collected information via a qualitative study at an unnamed coworking space in a suburban Midwestern town. As the researchers explain, they identified two factors that contributed to the development of a sense of community (SOC) at their research site “1) social . . . motivation for community, and 2) autonomous structure and practices allowing members to . . . align their community involvement with their desire for community. . . . The autonomous and flexible structure at [the coworking group] allowed the level and quality of community engagement to reflect members’ desires. . . . At [the coworking group], the loose structure allows members to associate with the people they enjoy, when they want their company. . . . it was also important that members felt free to express their authentic selves. . . . Employee efforts to be authentic are often disrupted by political dynamics that employees must navigate, potentially leading them to portray what is deemed to be valued or expected.”
Lyndon Garrett, Gretchen Spreitzer, and Peter Bacevice. 2017. “Co-Constructing a Sense of Community at Work: The Emergence of Community in Coworking Spaces.” Organization Studies, vol. 38, no. 6, pp. 821-842.
Women living in greener spaces have lower mortality rates. James and his colleagues report that “Green, natural environments may ameliorate adverse environmental exposures (e.g., air pollution, noise, and extreme heat), increase physical activity and social engagement, and lower stress. . . . Using data from the U.S.-based Nurses’ Health Study prospective cohort, we defined cumulative average time-varying seasonal greenness surrounding each participant’s address using satellite imagery. . . .We followed 108,630 women and observed 8,604 deaths between 2000 and 2008. . . . women living in the highest quintile [20%] of cumulative average greenness . . . in the 250-m[eter] area around their home had a 12% lower rate of all-cause nonaccidental mortality . . . than those in the lowest quintile [20%]. The results were consistent for the 1,250-m area, although the relationship was slightly attenuated [reduced]. These associations were strongest for respiratory and cancer mortality.” Race/ethnicity, smoking and socioeconomic status were eliminated as explanations for the effects found via statistical tools.
Peter James, Jaime Hart, Rachel Banay, and Francine Laden. 2016. “Exposure to Greenness and Mortality in a Nationwide Prospect Cohort Study of Women.” Environmental Health Perspectives, vol. 124, pp. 1344-1352.
Tanja-Dijkstra and her colleagues linked seeing coastal scenes via virtual reality and experiencing less pain (even during dental treatments such as tooth extractions and fillings). They report that “Virtual reality (VR) distraction has become increasingly available in health care contexts and is used in acute pain management. However, there has been no systematic exploration of the importance of the content of VR environments. Two studies tested how interacting with nature VR influenced experienced and recollected [remembered] pain after 1 week. . . . In Study 1, nature (coastal) VR reduced both experienced and recollected pain compared with no VR. In Study 2, nature (coastal) VR reduced experienced and recalled pain in dental patients, compared with urban VR and standard care [local anesthetics]. Together, these data show that nature can improve experience of health care procedures through the use of VR, and that the content of the VR matters: Coastal nature is better than urban. . . . even though we included natural elements [for example, vegetation] in the city to provide a conservative test.” This finding is particularly important because VR experiences are possible when patients are in a number of different positions/situations.
Karin Tanja-Dijkstra, Sabine Pahl, Mathew White, Melissa Auvray, Robert Stone, Jackie Andrade, Jon May, Ian Mills, and David Moles. “The Soothing Sea: A Virtual Coastal Walk Can Reduce Experienced and Recollected Pain.” Environment and Behavior, in press.
How do light levels influence the number of people walking or cycling? Uttley and Fotios answered that question by analyzing “Pedestrian and cyclist count data . . . using the biannual daylight-saving clock changes to compare daylight and after-dark conditions whilst keeping seasonal and time-of-day factors constant. . . . . Daylight increased pedestrian numbers by 62% and cyclist numbers by 38%. . . . These results show the importance of light conditions on the numbers of pedestrian and cyclists, and highlight the potential of road lighting as a policy measure to encourage active travel after-dark.”
Jim Uttley and Steve Fotios. “Using the Daylight Savings Clock Change to Show Ambient Light Conditions Significantly Influence Active Travel.” Journal of Environmental Psychology, in press.