Tag Archives: James J. Gross

Reduce Rumination, Stress by Taking a Walk in Nature, Viewing Animals

More than 50% of people live in urban environments and most have relatively infrequent contact with nature, according to research published by the United Nations.

Theo Lorenc

Theo Lorenc

One consequence is that many urban dwellers with decreased exposure to nature report “changes in psychological functioning” including ruminative thoughts – repetitive thoughts about negative aspects of the self – and depressed feelings, found University College London’s Theo Lorenc, Mark Petticrew, and Steven Cummins with Stephen Clayton of University of Central Lancaster, and David Neary of University of Manchester, University of Liverpool’s Margaret Whitehead, Hilary Thomson of University of Glasgow,  University of York’s Amanda Jayne Sowden, and Adrian Renton of University of East London.

Stephen Clayton

Stephen Clayton

Contact with nature can affect cognitive performance as well as emotional experience: Children living in urban environments with consistent views of nature outside their windows, performed better on:

  • Working memory (backward digit span, backward alphabet span),
  • Impulse inhibition (matching familiar figures task),
  • Selective attention (Stroop color-word task),
  • Concentration (Necker Cube pattern control task), reported by University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign’s Andrea Faber Taylor, Frances Kuo, and William C. Sullivan.
Andrea Faber Taylor

Andrea Faber Taylor

Urban environments are thought to require substantial top-down voluntary attentional control to filter relevant from irrelevant stimuli.
At the same time, built landscapes can deplete cognitive resources, worsening performance on tasks requiring focused attention, noted University of Uppsala’s Terry HartigGary W. Evans of University of California, Irvine with Marlis Mang of Planning & Design Solutions.

Terry Hartig

Terry Hartig

Walking for 90 minutes in nature reduced ruminationblood flow, and neural activity in the subgenual prefrontal cortex (sgPFC), reported Stanford’s Gregory N. Bratman, Kevin S. Hahn, Gretchen C. Daily, and James J. Gross with J. Paul Hamilton of Laureate Institute for Brain Research.
This brain area has been linked to self-focused behavioral withdrawal and rumination among both healthy and depressed people.

Gregory Bratman

Gregory Bratman

More than 35 volunteers rated their proneness to ruminate with negative thoughts, then half walked alone for 90-minutes without music through undeveloped open space hills through grassland with scattered shrubs and oak trees along a paved path.
They were told to take ten photographs of “whatever captured their attention” to disguise the study’s hypotheses.

Urban vs Rural Walks

Kevin Hahn

Kevin Hahn

Remaining participants walked alone without music down a busy, paved six-lane road with traffic for the same time period.

Following the walks, volunteers again rated their likelihood to repeatedly think negative thoughts.
They also completed a brain scan and cognitive and emotional assessment instruments including:

Lee Anna Clark

Lee Anna Clark

Positive and Negative Affect Scale (PANAS) developed by Southern Methodist University’s David Watson, with Lee Anna Clark and Auke Tellegen of University of Minnesota,

Backward digit span, developed by David Wechsler of Bellevue Hospital,

Jin Fan

Jin Fan

Attention Network Task (ANT- executive attention subtest), developed by Mount Sinai’s Jin Fan, Bruce D. McCandliss and John Fossella of Cornell, Yale’s Jonathan I. Flombaum and Michael I. Posner of University of Oregon,

Rumination-Reflection Questionnaire (RRQ) by Ohio State’s Paul Trapnell and Jennifer Campbell, including items like “I often reflect on episodes of my life that I should no longer concern myself with”),

Nash Unsworth

Nash Unsworth

Operation Span Task (OSPAN) developed by Georgia Tech’s Nash Unsworth, Richard Heitz and and Randall Engle with Josef Schrock o Marysville College,

State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI), developed by University of South Florida’s Charles D. Spielberger, 

Visuospatial working memory (change detection), developed by University of Iowa’s Steven J. Luck and Edward K. Vogel,

Gratitude Increases Financial Patience, Investment Earnings

Jennifer Lerner

Jennifer Lerner

Emotions affect personal financial decision-making, and negative emotions like anger and fear can lead people to make either risky or conservative financial choices, according to Harvard’s Jennifer Lerner.

David DeSteno

David DeSteno

With Northeastern University’s David DeSteno, Leah Dickens, University of California Riverside’s Ye Li, Lerner and Columbia University colleague Elke Weber noted that sadness increases impatience and leads to “myopic misery” – focus on immediate gain instead of more profitable longer-term options.

Leah Dickens

Leah Dickens

Lerner and team analyzed participants’ payoff choices when they were in an induced sad state or a neutral emotional condition compared with disgust as a control state.

Ye Li

Ye Li

On average, sad-state participants accepted between 13% and 34% less money to receive a payoff immediately (“present bias”) instead of waiting 90 days for a larger payment, confirming that induced sad feeling led to preference for immediate reward and less patience for a better but more distant payoff.

Elke Weber

Elke Weber

However, these sad volunteers were not more impatient in other generalized areas, suggesting that this effect focuses on impatience for rewards.
In contrast, the negative emotion of disgust did not result in greater impatience, pointing to the specific impact of sad feelings on payoff choices.

Cynthia Cryder

Cynthia Cryder

In a related study, Lerner and team evaluated the impact of induced positive emotions: Happiness and gratitude.
Again, participants could select a smaller, immediate payoff or larger payout later.

Induced gratitude enabled most volunteers to negotiate larger immediate rewards in exchange for giving up a larger, but more distant payment: “…the mean grateful participant required $63 immediately to forgo receiving $85 in three months, whereas the mean neutral or happy participant required only $55 immediately.

James Gross

James Gross

This trend was replicated in other studies by Lerner, Li, and Weber, who reported that average sad-mood participant was willing to accept $4 today instead of $100 in a year, whereas the average neutral-mood volunteer required more than four times as much$19 today to forego $100 in a year.
Another study estimated that sad volunteers accepted between 35% and 79% less money immediately instead of waiting for a future payoff.

Ronald Dahl

Ronald Dahl

This ”misery is not miserly” effect is influenced by the degree of “self-focus” or attention to personal impact in  an observed situation.
When volunteers were primed to focus on their personal reactions while experiencing induced sadness, they gave up more money to acquire a commodity compared with people who had neutral emotions or neutral self-focus, according to Lerner with Washington University’s Cynthia E. Cryder, James J. Gross of Stanford, and University of Pittsburgh’s Ronald E. Dahl.

Gratitude moderates “economic impatience” and suggests that affect-based interventions can help investors enhance financial decision making.

-*How do you manager the impact of transient emotional states on financial decision-making and risk-taking?

Follow-share-like http://www.kathrynwelds.com and @kathrynwelds

RELATED POSTS:

Twitter @kathrynwelds
BlogKathryn Welds | Curated Research and Commentary
Google+
LinkedIn Open Group Psychology in Human Resources (Organisational Psychology)
Facebook Notes

©Kathryn Welds