March 25, 2013
Even though small towns and pre-planned communities I wrote about before offer an interesting context for any environmental psychologist, the appeal of big cities is undeniable. That’s why I’ll research options for a PhD in environmental psychology in two capitals of the world – one traditional and one contemporary – Rome and New York.
Rome panorama; photo by Giampaolo Macorig
It’s hard not to feel like a fragile creature with short expiration date while walking amid stone edifices that stood as silent witnesses of human history for over 2 thousand years. That’s just my experience of the historic center of Rome (listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site), anyway. The feeling is not bad, though. Even without tour guides and guide books, just being there feels like an incredibly enriching learning experience. An experience that is beyond words, for after all, buildings don’t speak in words. Yet somehow, they might be telling us more about mankind than you’d learn from psychology books. read more »
October 27, 2012
Building a pre-planned city is as close as we came to creating a world of our dreams. Or somebody’s dreams, anyway. That’s why I see those places as very stimulating for environmental psychologists. It makes you wonder how people respond to such environments. At first glance, the wholeness of a single vision transferred into reality is just impressive. One can assume that pre-planned communities feel very comforting and safe due to their high levels of order, coherence and predictability.
Masdar City, UAE; photo by iied.org
Take a look at some of the futuristic dreams coming true at the moment - Tianjin in China, the zero-carbon, zero-waste Masdar in United Arab Emirates, or few others from all over the world. Not surprisingly, emphasis on sustainability is the key feature in all cities of the future mentioned above - green is a must at the moment. With good reason.
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July 10, 2012
Needless to say to those who, like me, wish to pursue a doctoral study in it, environmental psychology is an interdisciplinary field dealing with relations between humans and their environment. Its core idea is that where something happens matters, in a way that the environment influences how people feel and think and what they do. So, if you’re about to make a decision about getting a PhD in EnvPsych, you may want to make a choice consistent with the discipline by considering carefully where you’ll study it.
A look at people and their environment – natural, built and social; Slope day at Cornell University; photo by foreverdigital
It’s important to note that the environment can be defined very broadly, including natural environments, built environments and social settings. Also, learning environments and informational environments are especially interesting in this context.
I decided to write a series of posts on some great places to get a PhD in environmental psychology by the following criteria: read more »
June 11, 2012
For many people I meet, everything seems to be going well in life, but they’re not feeling quite happy. With all the information, options and resources available nowadays (in the part of the world that lives in abundance), people seem to be lacking the spark, inspiration and intrinsic motivation more than ever. That’s why I belive we can benefit from exploring ways to enhance the level of creativity in our lives, presuming that being creative is a happier mode of human existence than repeating patters and being uninspired.
Everyday creativity of ordinary people has been a very interesting research subject for scientists in recent years (as opposed to creativity defined as a rare trait of exquisite individuals resulting in historically new scientific discoveries and great works of art – which was “the original” definition of creativity). In other words, creativity for the rest of us has been “discovered”. That’s why I’m happy to learn something about designing spaces that nudge ordinary people to find creative solutions to everyday problems from Joren van Dijk, a Dutch environmental psychologist and the founder of omgevingspsycholoog.nl (Dutch for environmental psychologist). Joren consults organizations on how to design interior and exterior in order to facilitate people in achieving their goals.
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May 5, 2012
When it comes to aesthetic preferences, I like to remember an older colleague’s explanation of why his wife’s eyes are beautiful – not because they fit some common criteria of what is considered a beautiful shape, size, or color, but simply because they’re hers. He loves her, he loves her eyes. Many memories are kept in those eyes. He watches them smile, cry, get angry, getting old, and sees the value and beauty in them.
Is this a beauty pageant?; Lime Tree Avenue, Clumber Park, Nottinghamshire; photo by Lincolnian (Brian)
There are some things we consider beautiful (or at least want to) per se, just because. All the things and people we love could be included here, and everything we think of as valuable. Just writing about how some trees are prefered over others because of their appearance seems somewhat unfair.
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April 11, 2012
Isn’t owning a small cafe or a restaurant just about everybody’s alternative dream career, one of those things you’d gladly try if you had an opportunity? Maybe not, maybe it’s just me. However, I’m sure you like to eat out occasionally at a nice place where you feel comfortable and relaxed.
Aria, Toronto: by Sifu Renka
My question is, how important is the restaurant environment for your dining experience? Whether you agree of not, Susskind & Chan (2000) found that food and decor are more strongly related to a high rating by customers than service. The importance of good food is self-evident, but, interestingly enough, many gourmets I know deny the importance of ambience for their satisfaction.
March 1, 2012
At my very empirically and behaviorally oriented psychology college department, psychology was most often defined as a social science aiming to describe, explain, predict and control behaviour. I’ve always had a problem with this control part, or manipulate, as it was sometimes put. Do we really aim to manipulate all the “non-psychologists”, as we sometimes call them? If so, who decides what people should or shouldn’t do, what’s desirable and what’s unacceptable behavior?
Stairs at Vatican Museum; photo by Giorgos~ (moving to Google+)
For me, manipulation means leading someone to do something you want them to do (but they don’t). On the contrary, I see my role as helping people do things they want, but for different reasons don’t succeed. read more »
February 7, 2012
Interesting fact No.1: Genome-wise, modern humans are very closely related. Any two modern humans, from anywhere on the globe, possess greater genetic similarity than do any two chimpanzees; even those selected from neighbouring groups in Africa (Davies, 2001; Ridley, 2000; Wells, 2002; according to Falk and Balling 2010).
African savanna during an unusually wet period; photo by Martin_Heigan
Interesting fact No.2: A broad survey of art preferences (Wypijewski 1997, according to Dutton, 2003) of people living in ten countries in Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Americas found “an odd cross-cultural uniformity” - respondents in all countries expressed a liking for realistic representative paintings including water, trees and other plants, human beings, and animals, especially large mammals. Two artists, Vitaly Komar and Alexander Melamid, who hired professionals to conduct this survey in the first place, produced a favourite painting for each country using the statistical preferences as a guide. The paintings turned out to be very similar — they all looked like ordinary European landscape calendar art. An influential art critic Arthur Danto claimed that this findings demonstrate the power of the international calendar industry to influence taste away from indigenous values and towards European conventions. Was Danto right?
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January 29, 2012
It’s been a year since I started writing about relations between people’s environment and their feelings, thoughts and behaviour. I find Mind Shaped Box’s first birthday a great opportunity to summarize what were, for me, the most significant points over the past year. I decided that there should be 10 of them.
With 29 topics in environmental psychology covered, I’d like to start with 3 of my favourites posts:
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January 5, 2012
Loving works of architecture is, in a way, like loving people – some are cute, interesting, not too strange, and appear warm and friendly. They seem somewhat familiar and are easy to love from the first sight. Then there are others, who make a lousy first impression – they seem boring and cold, but when you get to know them, they grow on you. Even more, you fall crazily in love with them.
Farnsworth house, designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe in 1951, an icon of 20th century modern architecture; photo by andrewzahn
And this is how I’d describe my love for modernist minimalistic design with its straight lines and rectilinear shapes. It wasn’t until I learnt about the philosophy behind it, that I started to see it as not boring, but pure; not cold, but honest; and not depressing, but rather idealistic. In spite of my initaial lack of interest, I eventually fell in love with it. read more »