Archive for ‘public space’

April 30, 2015

Environmental Psychology Related Online Courses – part V (Design, Architecture and Urbanism)

There are some interesting online courses about design, architecture and urbanism starting soon. Some are new and some are long-anticipated re-runs for me, since I missed previous sessions.  Here they are:

city 3

Courses about design:

read more »

October 27, 2012

Great Places to Get a PhD in Environmental Psychology: #2 Pre-planned Cities

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.

read more »

May 5, 2012

On Beauty, Ethics and the Nature – The Story of Tree Shape Preferences

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.

read more »

April 11, 2012

The Role of Restaurant Decor

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

Design Interventions to Promote Stair Use

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 »

November 30, 2011

Should Therapists Display Their Diplomas and Certificates?

Fellow psychologists, counselors and psychotherapists, do you proudly display your diplomas and certificates for your clients to see them? Or do you feel uncomfortable with the idea, believing you should confirm your expertness through your work and that your clients could perceive your self-promotion as undesirable?

What should be displayed on the wall in a therapist’s office?; photo by favaro JR.

As you are aware, there is evidence that many factors, beside specific therapeutic techniques, play important role in psychotherapeutic process. Such factors may be the therapist’s gender and age, impression formation based on the therapist’s appearance or manners, or the environment in which the therapy or counseling occurs.

read more »

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.

read more »

September 19, 2011

Increasing Classroom Personalization – 8 Easy Projects to Try

In order to give students opportunities to express themselves within school environment, without scribbling on their desks, or carving their names into trees in school yard, I’m sharing some ideas that Maxwell and Chmiewski (2008) offered to teachers who participated in their study of effects of classroom personalization on children self-esteem (more here).

photo by cayoup

Even though these ideas were intended for kindergarteners and first graders, some of them are transferable to older students as well. They are inexpensive, easy and fun for young children. Here they are… (inspiring photos included!)

read more »

September 19, 2011

Classroom Personalization and Young Children’s Self-esteem

Recently I wrote about how much it matters for pupils to see, from environmental cues, that they are important in school and how it can affect their academic performance. And, no doubt about it, many teachers do their best to make learning environment cozy, interesting and stimulating for their students.

photo by Kathy Cassidy

However, sometimes when we’re doing something for the children we often tend to do things instead of them. For instance, if you let your toddler choose their outfit, or let your teenager decide on decorating their room, it can be hard not to interfere, and not to push choices that seem better to you. Yes, it’s good to let children know what you think are good choices for them, but there needs to be some space in their lives where they can practice freedom of choice, and consequences and responsibilities that come with it. To do their own mistakes, and learn from them. To leave the trace of who they are at the moment. That’s why teachers might do well by sharing responsibility for environmental adjustments in classroom with their students.

read more »

September 3, 2011

How and Why is Academic Performance Related to School Building Condition?

When you take a look at your local elementary school, does it appear as if something truly amazing is happening inside it? Does it look like a place where young minds get inspired, where their future matters, and where knowledge is celebrated? Take  a look at Faculty of Business and Economics in Melbourne for example – seems like something really important and classy happens there. Compared to it, every elementary school I know looks like just another institution, predictively bland and uninspiring. Like somebody didn’t have fun making it. And others don’t have fun going to it. Like somebody wasn’t proud and excited to get a job of building it. And others aren’t proud to have the opportunity to learn in it. Or excited to have the privilege to teach in it.

Faculty of Business and Economics, The University of Melbourne; photo by Wojtek Gurak

Aside from not being  bold, futuristic and daring architectural statements that give you goosebumps while thinking “Ahh..the temple of knowledge..”, many schools are in really bad condition, too. Leeking roofs, damaged walls and broken windows all tell the story of neglectance and insensitivity. Students in those schools seem to receive the message of being a low priority loud and clear and tend to act upon it – through lower academic achievement.

read more »