Abstract: Urbanization and the decline of access to nature have coincided with a rise of mental health problems. A growing body of research has demonstrated an association between nature contact and improved mental affect (ie, mood). However, previous approaches have been unable to quantify the benefits of urban greenspace exposure and compare how different types of outdoor public spaces impact mood. Here, we use Twitter to investigate how mental affect varies before, during, and after visits to a large urban park system. We analyze the sentiment of tweets to estimate the magnitude and duration of the affect benefit of visiting parks. We find that affect is substantially higher during park visits and remains elevated for several hours following the visit. Visits to Regional Parks, which are greener and have greater vegetative cover, result in a greater increase in affect compared to Civic Plazas and Squares. Finally, we analyze the words in tweets around park visits to explore several theorized mechanisms linking nature exposure with mental and cognitive benefits. Negation words such as" no"," not", and" don't" decrease in frequency during visits to urban parks. These results point to the most beneficial types of nature contact for mental health benefits and can be used by urban planners and public health officials to improve the well-being of growing urban populations.
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Bongard's work focuses on understanding the general nature of cognition, regardless of whether it is found in humans, animals or robots. This unique approach focuses on the role that morphology and evolution plays in cognition. Addressing these questions has taken him into the fields of biology, psychology, engineering and computer science.
Danforth is an applied mathematician interested in modeling a variety of physical, biological, and social phenomenon. He has applied principles of chaos theory to improve weather forecasts as a member of the Mathematics and Climate Research Network, and developed a real-time remote sensor of global happiness using messages from Twitter: the Hedonometer. Danforth co-runs the Computational Story Lab with Peter Dodds, and helps run UVM's reading group on complexity.
Laurent studies the interaction of structure and dynamics. His research involves network theory, statistical physics and nonlinear dynamics along with their applications in epidemiology, ecology, biology, and sociology. Recent projects include comparing complex networks of different nature, the coevolution of human behavior and infectious diseases, understanding the role of forest shape in determining stability of tropical forests, as well as the impact of echo chambers in political discussions.
Hines' work broadly focuses on finding ways to make electric energy more reliable, more affordable, with less environmental impact. Particular topics of interest include understanding the mechanisms by which small problems in the power grid become large blackouts, identifying and mitigating the stresses caused by large amounts of electric vehicle charging, and quantifying the impact of high penetrations of wind/solar on electricity systems.
Bagrow's interests include: Complex Networks (community detection, social modeling and human dynamics, statistical phenomena, graph similarity and isomorphism), Statistical Physics (non-equilibrium methods, phase transitions, percolation, interacting particle systems, spin glasses), and Optimization(glassy techniques such as simulated/quantum annealing, (non-gradient) minimization of noisy objective functions).