Posts tagged ‘research’

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.

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November 11, 2011

Reading a Floor Plan – What Attributes do You Attend to?

Are you, like me, one of those people who think of floor plans as very important for comprehension of space? When I stumble upon a great house tour or newly built dwelling in a regular check up of my favourite design and architecture sites, floor plans provide very crucial information for me. Like any design lover, I want to be able to visualize that beautiful space better in order to appreciate it and enjoy more. Photographs are great (and indispensable), but there’s something about floor plans that gets my imagination going.

Vintage magazine scan containing a floor plan; photo by SportSuburban

Since floor plans can be considered a spatial representation and communication tool – between architects, constructors, house sellers and house buyers, there’s a lot to be investigated from psychological perspectives on how people think about them, that is, on the cognitive processes underlying the conceptualization of floor plans.

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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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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.

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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.

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August 7, 2011

Second Home – Another Place for Another You? Gender Roles on Vacation

Do you every so often feel tied down by the routines and schedule of your everyday life to the degree that you just need to remove yourself from it all in order to get perspective? If there’ isn’t enough of a adventurist in you to pursue the impulse to just elope and go for a fresh start somewhere far far away when you’ve had it enough, you can go for the next best thing – vacation, a legitimate escape from your usual responsibilities, your usual life and your usual self.

Guiche, Portugal; photo by ilovefremont2001

And while you can feel the excitement and freedom of an escape when you take days off and just stay at home (think skipping classes at school), this article is about going away. It often seems to me that the need for the change of environment includes, among others, the need for the change within people, their habits and roles. Contrary to the popular saying that sometimes the only part of the world you can change is you, I belive that other times we go the other way around – travel to another part of the world in order to find the change within ourselves.

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July 5, 2011

Quantifying the Value of a Priceless View

Of all the things that can be bought and sold, is there anything that’s more important for building your life around it, than a home? There’s nothing I can think of right now, and that’s probably why selling it is so stressful. It’s hard to see your home as an empty shell, stripped of all your stuff and even harder to have its value pinned down to money. When we have to put a price tag on anything that’s dear to us, it just feels like a misfit translation of values. Market value of your home cannot reflect all the special moments shared in it, a part of your life “left” in it, that special value that makes is a home for you.

A home by K_M Architektur at Lake Walensee, Switzerland; 

photo by JoeInSouthernCA

Those values can be completely unrelated, too. You can spend a very happy period of your life in a home with a lower market value, and live very poorly in an expensive home. It seems that  when we’re selling a home, we’re very aware the fact that we’re selling bare walls and not our experience of a home, but when we’re buying a new one, we are trying to capture those feelings of a special place and homey feeling nonetheless (and real estate agents know it!). We look out for cues that reveal a potential for happiness, and, like with all purchases, we’re willing to let go of completely objective, logical reasoning and also act emotionally, impulsively, “fall in love” with some features. While quantitative variables like square footage and number of bedrooms might be the most important for making a reasonable decision about home buying, the most intriguing material for falling in love is the view.

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June 7, 2011

Landscape Preferences and Water Consumption Issues in the Desert

When it comes to landscaping preferences, we seem to have a thing for the exotic – trying to grow a Mediterranean garden in a wet oceanic climate, a big green lawn in a desert climate and tropical plants in a continental climate. While I don’ think there’s anything wrong with being inspired by things that come from afar, there’s no reason to belive that they fit our surroundings better that anything native. And while globalisation has come so far that there’s no special maintainance issue whether you choose either American, European or Japanese car, maintaining non-native landscapes can cause further problems.

Red Box; photo by Jeremy Levine Design

One of the most important aspects of environmental psychology is investigating and promoting environmentally friendly attitudes and behaviour, so the following research deals with that issue. Aiming to identify ways to reduce outdoor residential water use in the desert area of the southwestern United States, Yabiku and colleagues (2008) examined landscape preferences and some factors associated with them.

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