Nearby greenery has again been linked to mental wellbeing. Houlden and colleagues report that their “study was designed to examine whether the amount of greenspace within a radius of individuals’ homes was associated with mental wellbeing, testing the government guideline that greenspace should be available within 300m[eters] of homes. . . . [statistical analyses] revealed positive and statistically significant associations between the amount of greenspace and indicators of life satisfaction and worth. . .
Framework for Reaction to Place
Features of neighboring homes influence what we think about our own house. Kuhlmann investigated “whether the size of one’s home relative to others in their [resident’s] neighbourhood influences their housing satisfaction. . . . [and found] evidence that relative position matters. Those living in comparatively small houses are more likely to express dissatisfaction with their home than people living in units that are large relative to other houses in their neighbourhood cluster.”
Schmidt and colleagues wanted to learn more about how nonverbal messages influence how people think and behave. They “recorded participants' EEG brain responses while they played a risk game developed in our laboratory. . . . we predicted that cognitive control would be reduced in the helmet group [that is, people playing the game while wearing a bicycle helmet although they were not near a bicycle], indicated by reduced frontal midline theta power, and that this group would prefer riskier options in the risk game. . . .
Researchers studying beauty have found that math can be beautiful, just like landscapes and sonatas. A study by Steinerberger and Johnson, published in Cognition,reports that “average Americans can assess mathematical arguments for beauty just as they can pieces of art or music. The beauty they discerned about the math was not one-dimensional either: Using nine criteria for beauty — such as elegance, intricacy, universality, etc. — 300 individuals had better-than-chance agreement about the specific ways that four different [mathematical] proofs were beautiful. . . .
Reese, Oettler, and Katz set out to learn more about how people bond to places. As they describe, “Place attachment – the cognitive-emotional bond people have to specific places – is associated with various psychological outcomes and behaviors. While it is well-established that both important social as well as physical features determine how strongly people attach to a place, it is largely unexplored how the loss of such features causally affects place attachment. . .
A Kao-lead team linked what we’re looking at with what we choose to eat; we make healthier choices when looking at nature images than we do otherwise. The researchers found that “Visual exposure to natural versus urban scenes leads to healthier dietary choices. . . . Successful weight loss requires individuals to focus on distant health gains while sacrificing immediate culinary pleasures. Time discounting refers to the tendency to discount larger future gains in favor of smaller immediate rewards.
Staats and Groot investigated where solo individuals choose to sit in a crowded café when there are already people sitting in some of the coffee house seats. The researchers report that “we manipulated two aspects of intimacy (eye contact and distance to others), and one aspect of privacy (architectural anchoring) in separate scenario’s and registered participants’ seat choice on floor plans of the three hypothetical cafés. We found that more often participants chose a seat that was at a larger distance to other café-goers. Study 2 . . . replicated the design of the first study. . . .
Schertz and Berman reviewed published studies exploring the cognitive repercussions of being exposed to nature. They determined that “exposure to a variety of natural stimuli (vs. urban stimuli) consistently improves working memory performance. . . . Overall, there is compelling evidence to support the advice of Thoreau and Murray to spend time in nature. Exposure to natural environments has been shown to improve performance on working memory, cognitive-flexibility, and attentional-control tasks.
Why do we value handmade objects, even when “perfect” machine made options are available? Waytz in The Power of Human: How Our Shared Humanity Can Help Us Create a Better World answers that question. Waytz reports, for example, that “people consciously or subconsciously judge the value of something based on the perceived effort put into it. The first studies examining this effect, led by psychologist Justin Kruger . . . demonstrated that people valued poems, paintings, and medieval armor more highly when they believed these artifacts required more human effort to produce. . . .
Formal elements drive outcomes