Brussoni and colleagues studied children (10- to 13-years old) in three diverse urban neighborhoods in Canada engaged in unsupervised outdoor activities (UOA), which in the words of the researchers “are key for thriving children and societies.” Data were collected via interviews. The investigators determined that “There has been increasing recognition of the importance of children's outdoor play and independent mobility for thriving children, neighbourhoods, cities and society. . . .
Kondo and colleagues studied links between tree cover and human longevity. They report that “greenspaces in urban environments have been associated with physical and mental health benefits for city dwellers. . . . We did a greenspace health impact assessment to estimate the annual premature mortality burden for adult residents associated with projected changes in tree canopy cover in Philadelphia between 2014 and 2025. . .
People designing and managing cities today can benefit from learning about life in ancient settlements. A research group headed by Schott Ortman at the University of Colorado Boulder published a study in Science Advances: “Ortman and Jose Lobo from Arizona State University took a deep dive into data from the farming towns that dotted the Rio Grande Valley between the 14th and 16th centuries. Modern metropolises should take note: As the Pueblo villages grew bigger and denser, their per capita production of food and other goods seemed to go up, too.
Stich used a broad definition of virtual offices to study the implications of remote work, for people who work at the office and away from it. Stich found that “Virtual offices give employees the ability to work anytime, anywhere, using information and communication technologies. . . . three threats that virtual offices create for organizations and office managers: (1) changed social relationships, (2) poorer communication, and (3) deviant behaviors. . . .
Jung, Moon, and Nelson studied how people think about the experiences of other people. They determined that “people overestimate the valuations and preferences of others. This overestimation arises because, when making predictions about others, people rely on their intuitive core representation of the experience (e.g., is the experience generally positive?) in lieu of a more complex representation that might also include countervailing aspects (e.g., is any of the experience negative?). . . . the overestimation bias is pervasive for a wide range of positive . . . and negative experiences.
Meissner and colleagues studied decision-making in virtual reality environments; their findings can be applied by anyone conducting research in virtual places or developing virtual retail spaces, for example. The research team reports that “With high-immersive virtual reality (VR) systems approaching mass markets, companies are seeking to better understand how consumers behave when shopping in VR.
Whitley, Kalof, and Flach determined that looking at close-up portraits of animals, as opposed to images that show the same sorts of animals in the contexts of their natural environments, has special effects on our responses to those animals. The investigators studied, via an online survey, “how individuals respond to traditional wildlife photography and animal portraiture. Those who were exposed to animal portraits reported increased empathy and decreased positive and relaxed emotions.
Li, Jia, and Wang wanted to better understand how smelling odors we feel are unpleasant influences what goes on in our minds. They report that their “study combined event-related potentials (ERPs) with a facial emotion recognition task to investigate the effect of food odor context on the recognition of facial expressions. . . . unpleasant food odors triggered faster recognition of facial expressions, especially fearful ones.”
Robertson, Cohen and Botch evaluated the size of our color field-of-vision and their findings are published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The researchers report that they “used head-mounted virtual reality displays installed with eye-trackers to immerse participants in a 360-degree real-world environment. The virtual environments included tours of historic sites, a street dance performance, a symphony rehearsal and more, where observers could explore their surroundings simply by turning their heads. . .
Research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences indicates that we do not see the world completely objectively. A group lead by Firestone and Morales reports “that it's almost impossible for people to separate an object's true identity from their own perspective on it. In this case, people looked at round objects that were tilted away from them; even when people were certain that the objects were round, they couldn't help but ‘see’ them in a distorted way, as ovals or ellipses. . . . subjects were shown pairs of three-dimensional coins.