Perceiving Environmental Quality: Research and Applications

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In the laboratory, experiments focus on cause and effect processes within human nature. Environmental psychology relies on interaction with other disciplines in order to approach problems with multiple perspectives. The first discipline is the category of behavioral sciences, which include: sociology, political science, anthropology, and economics. Environmental psychology also interacts with the interspecializations of the field of psychology, which include: developmental psychology , cognitive science , industrial and organizational psychology , psychobiology, psychoanalysis , [10] and social neuroscience.

In addition to the more scientific fields of study, environmental psychology also works with the design field which includes: the studies of architecture, interior design, urban planning, industrial and object design, landscape architecture, and preservation. Space over time orientation highlights the importance of the past.

Examining problems with the past in mind creates a better understanding of how past forces, such as social, political, and economic forces, may be of relevance to present and future problems. It's important to look at time over extended periods. Physical settings change over time; they change with respect to physical properties and they change because individuals using the space change over time. There are a variety of tests that can be administered to children in order to determine their temperament.

Temperament is split up into three types: "easy", "difficult", and "slow-to-warm-up". Birch, Margaret Hertzig and Sam Korn created an infant temperament test in the s and rated them using nine temperament criteria. Place identity has been traditionally defined as a 'sub-structure of the self-identity of the person consisting of broadly conceived cognitions about the physical world in which the individual lives'. Through 'good' or 'bad' experiences with a place, a person is then able to reflect and define their personal values, attitudes, feelings and beliefs about the physical world.

Place identity has been described as the individual's incorporation of place into the larger concept of self; a "potpourri of memories, conceptions, interpretations, ideas, and related feelings about specific physical settings, as well as types of settings". Three humanistic geographers, Tuan , Relph and Buttimer , [ full citation needed ] share a couple of basic assumptions.

Perceiving Environmental Quality: Research and Applications

Five central functions of place-identity have been depicted: recognition, meaning, expressive-requirement, mediating change, and anxiety and defense function. Place identity becomes a cognitive "database" against which every physical setting is experienced. The individual is frequently unaware of the array of feelings, values or memories of a singular place and simply becomes more comfortable or uncomfortable with certain broad kinds of physical settings, or prefers specific spaces to others.

In the time since the term "place identity" was introduced, the theory has been the model for identity that has dominated environmental psychology. Many different perceptions of the bond between people and places have been hypothesized and studied. The most widespread terms include place attachment [17] and sense of place.

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While both researchers and writers [19] have made the case that time and experience in a place are important for deepening the meanings and emotional ties central to the person-place relationship, little in-depth research has studied these factors and their role in forging this connection. Place attachment is defined as one's emotional or affective ties to a place, and is generally thought to be the result of a long-term connection with a certain environment. For example, one can have an emotional response to a beautiful or ugly landscape or place, but this response may sometimes be shallow and fleeting.

This distinction is one that Schroeder labeled "meaning versus preference". According to Schroeder the definition of "meaning" is "the thoughts, feelings, memories and interpretations evoked by a landscape"; whereas "preference" is "the degree of liking for one landscape compared to another". Environmental cognition involved in human cognition plays a crucial role in environmental perception. All different areas of the brain engage with environmentally relevant information.

Some believe that the orbitofrontal cortex integrates environmentally relevant information from many distributed areas of the brain. Due to its anterior location within the frontal cortex, the orbitofrontal cortex may make judgments about the environment, and refine the organism's "understanding" through error analysis, and other processes specific to prefrontal cortex.


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But to be certain, there is no single brain area dedicated to the organism's interactions with its environment. Rather, all brain areas are dedicated to this task. One area probably the orbitofrontal cortex may collate the various pieces of the informational puzzle in order to develop a long term strategy of engagement with the ever-changing "environment. The earliest noteworthy discoveries in the field of environmental psychology can be dated back to Roger Barker who created the field of ecological psychology. Founding his research station in Oskaloosa, Kansas in , his field observations expanded into the theory that social settings influence behavior.

Empirical data gathered in Oskaloosa from to helped him develop the concept of the "behavior setting" to help explain the relationship between the individual and the immediate environment. This resulted in the students' ability to presume many different roles in small schools e. In his book Ecological Psychology Barker stresses the importance of the town's behavior and environment as the residents' most ordinary instrument of describing their environment.

Barker argued that his students should implement T-methods psychologist as 'transducer': i. Basically, Barker preferred fieldwork and direct observation rather than controlled experiments. Some of the minute-by-minute observations of Kansan children from morning to night, jotted down by young and maternal graduate students, may be the most intimate and poignant documents in social science. Barker spent his career expanding on what he called ecological psychology, identifying these behavior settings, and publishing accounts such as One Boy's Day and Midwest and Its Children Environmental psychologists rejected the laboratory-experimental paradigm because of its simplification and skewed view of the cause-and-effect relationships of human's behaviors and experiences.

Environmental psychologists examine how one or more parameters produce an effect while other measures are controlled. It is impossible to manipulate real-world settings in a laboratory. Environmental psychology is oriented towards influencing the work of design professionals architects, engineers, interior designers, urban planners, etc.

Perception - Wikipedia

On a civic scale, efforts towards improving pedestrian landscapes have paid off, to some extent, from the involvement of figures like Jane Jacobs and Copenhagen 's Jan Gehl. One prime figure here is the late writer and researcher William H. His still-refreshing and perceptive "City", based on his accumulated observations of skilled Manhattan pedestrians, provides steps and patterns of use in urban plazas.

The role and impact of architecture on human behavior is debated within the architectural profession. This is because visual quality works can be a research topic for different profession disciplines. Landscape is the view which situates in an observable frame and is composed of natural and cultural substances.

Visual Quality Assessment Methods in Landscape Architecture Studies

At the same time, the notion refers to our capacity of how and how much we perceive the materials that surround us and how we setup a relationship with them. Landscapes are the most important aspects in setting up our locational identities. By the help of nature and history, landscapes provide the fundamental interaction amongst human L. Moreover, the lexical meaning of 'landscape' refers to a scene which comprises the natural beauties of a region or an area.

In other words, it refers to the total land form or shape of a region. According to another definition, landscape can be described as a piece of area which is positioned in a certain view frame. It also refers to a composition of all natural and cultural environments within the aforementioned frame Acar, Even though the literature shows that there are different definitions of visual quality concept in landscape design, it can be argued that the implied concept and the elements that is served for are similar.

According to Daniel , landscape visual quality is a common product of the observer's psychological perceptual, cognitive, emotional process which is in an interaction with apparent visible landscape characteristics. Because of this characteristic, 'visual quality' is probably one of the hardest phenomenons that can be analysed and measured in an environment.


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In general, visual quality is a concept which shows the degrees of people's opinions and aesthetic admirations about living creatures, objects and the view around them. According to Porteous , the concept of aesthetic originates from the Greek words "aisthanesthai" which means 'to perceive', and "aistheta" which means 'perceivable objects'.

When its theoretical aspects are taken into account, aesthetics is one of the environmental design criteria which influences the protection and development of the 'landscape visual quality' for an ecological and sustainable landscaping Kamicaityte and Janusatis, In this context, researchers' work would become easier by using the analyses on spatial applications.

Photographic images and digital drawings are usually used as a method in order to evaluate the environmental quality. Most research projects showed that there are clear similarities between the actual land and the photographs which were employed in the surveys for the users. This means that objective results can be gathered even if the participants in the survey only make comments by looking at the images instead of going to the actual land.

In addition to landscape designers and expert resource managers, different professionals such as ecologists, geographers, environmental experts and psychologists also use visual quality assessment in their research projects. Each profession discipline looks for a different method.

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When the approaches on aesthetic perception are considered, it can be seen that different methods were used concerning the studies on 'visual quality assessment'. Table 1 below categorised these approaches in brief. While the expert approach is particularly powerful in environmental management applications, the approaches which are based on user perception are dominant in research projects. Both approaches accept that landscape quality originates from the interaction between the landscape's biological and the observer's perceptual process.

The difference between the two approaches is the mutual dominancy of expert and user. In today's approach model, it is internalised that the first two approaches should be applied in parallel.

In visual landscape assessments -in accordance with landscape planning, design and management objectives- there are several inventory analysis and assessments for different visual characteristics of landscape Palmer and Hoffmann, Systematic visual landscape quality assessment developed and manifested in the second half of the 20th century.

In this sense, the fundamental of today's 'visual quality assessment' studies originates from Kevin Lynch who published the book "The Image of the City" in The factors concerning the production of 'urban images', listed in Lynch's book , light the way for many studies in the field.