Archive for October, 2011

October 24, 2011

Housing Quality and Children’s Socioemotional Well-being

“By falling serendipitously into teaching in a Waldorf school for five years, I deeply learned the impact that an environment has on a person (particularly children). I saw, first hand, that the children who did best in the classroom came from the best homes, but this had nothing to do with any rich/poor divide, and all of the ingredients of the good homes that I witnessed were accessible to all.”

photo by yvestown

This teacher’s observation inspired me to look up for research on effects that housing quality has on children. And while “doing best in the classroom” could be understood as academic achievement, I’d like to look at in a broader sense of socioemotional wellbeing – it could mean the children who function the best in academic, social, and emotional aspects of their lives – who are motivated, interested, mature, creative, playful enough, cooperative, caring, etc.

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October 16, 2011

Motives for Visiting Houses of Worship and Monasteries

Given the symbolic of religious spaces as the refugees from this world’s troubles, it’s understandable that environmental psychologists have recently become interested in monasteries and houses of worship as restorative environments. In order to investigate restorative potential of such settings, the first step would be to explore reasons people go there, and see if there are any parallels with theories of psychological restoration.

Sagrada Familia, Barcelona; photo by aurelian

The following studies explore how a monastery  (Ouellette et al., 2005) and houses of worship (Herzog et al., 2010) can serve as restorative settings in the context of Attention Restoration Theory but with due regard for the spiritual nature of the setting.

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October 4, 2011

High Floor – High Life? What Changes as You Climb Upwards?

Just like Manhattan’s skyscrapers, the epitome of modern high-rise living, seem to appear from the water, a city of Shibam, consisting entirely of  5 to 11 storey tower-houses originating from the 16th century, rises in the middle of a desert in Yemen. This UNESCO World Heritage Site reminds us that high-rise living is not as recent phenomenon as we might usually think. On the contrary, apartment buildings rising up to 10 and more floors were built even in ancient Rome.

Shibam, Yemen, “the Manhattan of the desert”; photo by Michel Banabila

However, it wasn’t until recently that high-rise living became wide-spread and available to so many people, and since it can be expected that its prevalence would only grow further, the following question becomes relevant: If you were to choose between two identical apartments, would you go for the one on a lower floor, or the one on a higher floor? Which would be your ideal living height? Since living high in the air is evolutionary novel experience for our species, one wonders how well are we able to adapt to it.

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