Urban Psychology is a special field of psychology. It deals with the experience and behavior in the built environment. Its aim is to describe, explain, predict and (if necessary) change human experience and behaviour in this context. In this way she creates a human-centred view of buildings and settlement areas. Examples of questions are as follows:
Which house facades are perceived as beautiful by the users?
Which building characteristics make orientation easier for us?
How can pedestrian flows be predicted and controlled?
What measures are taken to promote local identity and commitment to a place?
How social and structural density must be in order to be perceived positively?
What characteristics of green spaces promote recreation?
History As part of environmental psychology, urban psychology is over 100 years old. In the course of industrialization, it was experimentally investigated at that time which environmental factors had a performance-enhancing effect on humans. In the 1960s and 1970s, a research boom was triggered by the rapid growth of settlement areas. In these years, the first empirical studies on topics such as building aesthetics, social and structural density, recreational areas and local identity were published. Urban psychology has made it possible to define, measure and influence soft factors – such as local identity – more precisely.
Methods of Urban Psychology
The methodological possibilities for a better understanding of the “black box human” are now very diverse: from qualitative interviews to the measurement of physiological indicators such as brain activity, eye movements or hormone secretions. Today, online questionnaires enable us to interview a large number of people within a short period of time and evaluate their responses statistically. New visualization techniques make it possible to measure human reactions to non-existent environments. What all methods have in common is that they strive to measure human experience and behaviour as objectively and validly as possible – as the basis for an evidence-based development of the built environment.