Research Methods

W. Poortinga (I-026); A. Haans; S. Baasch; J.G. Hoendervanger (chair); J. Eyckmann. Location: A3

Neighbourhood quality, attachment and well-being: A test of the revised Residential Environment Assessment Tool (r-REAT)

W. Poortinga, S. Lannon, T. Calve-Blanco, S. Rodgers, R. Lyons, & R. Johnson

Various studies have shown that the overall quality of the residential environment is linked to neighbourhood attachment and health. However, most studies rely upon residents’ own perceptions rather than independent observations, introducing the risk of common-method variance. This paper presents the results of a study combining independent assessments of 271 neighbourhoods, using the revised Residential Environment Assessment Tool (r-REAT), and a neighbourhood perception survey among the residents (n=1,054). The study shows that r-REAT is a reliable, easy-to-use instrument to assess neighbourhood quality; and that most underlying constructs match residents’ perceptions of their own neighbourhood. The survey further found that neighbourhood attachment was associated with neighbourhood quality, street-level and property-level green features, perceived social capital, and defensible space features. Self-reported health, as an indicator of well-being, was associated with neighbourhood quality, perceived social capital and defensible space features. In contrast to the expectations, neighbourhood attachment did not moderate the associations between the neighbourhood environment and self-reported health. The results of the study show that both physical and social aspects of the neighbourhood environment are important for neighbourhood attachment and well-being. Further work is needed to explore how the social and physical aspects of the environments interact to influence residents’ wellbeing.

Range bias in environmental appraisals: Association and agreement between biased self-report scales and unbiased paired comparisons

A. Haans & L. van Rijswijk

Environmental appraisals are commonly obtained with self-report scales. Since people find it difficult to make absolute judgments, evaluations of a scene are typically based upon a comparison with the other environments in the stimulus set; resulting in range bias. We demonstrate such range bias in appraisals of environmental safety, and test the association and agreement between a scale-based and an unbiased paired comparison procedure. First, 100 nocturnal urban environments were rated on a 5-point response format. Second, groups of 20 participants rated one of two stimulus sets: One containing the 55 scenes previously considered to be the least safe, the other the 55 safest scenes. Results revealed a range bias with 9 of the 10 overlapping environments rated as safer when presented in the unsafe as compared to the safe set, with t(38) ≥ 1.9 and p ≤ .04. Third, the safety of a random sample of 30 environments was estimated using a paired comparison method. These unbiased estimates correlated strongly with the scale-based estimates with rcorr = .87, and Bland-Altman plots demonstrated reasonable agreement. Results demonstrate that absolute scale values must be interpreted with care, but that inter-scene differences in safety appear to remain largely unaffected by stimulus range.

Participation methods

S. Baasch

This contribution shows results of participatory research in the field of adaptation to climate change and energy transition and discusses two methodological approaches: participative network analysis and scenario techniques in focus groups. Participative network analysis is an incremental methodological approach to identify stakeholders and their networking activities by interviewing and developing networks graphs with key knowledge holders. First applications have shown that a good quality and acceptance of the findings. Scenario discussions have become a common methodological approach to discuss challenges and develop measures under condition of uncertain knowledge and complexity, e.g. in the field of adaptation to climate change. In this presentation the results of such workshops with regional stakeholders from the energy, agriculture and forestry sectors in Germany will be discussed from a methodological perspective. The findings show that scenario techniques may pose risks because of selective use of provided information, inconsistent and contradictory statements, heuristic thinking and the rejection of responsibility. Also the discomfort with accepting uncertainty as part of the process brings with it the risk of overestimating the predictive capacity of modelling, cost benefit and forecasting techniques, which may lead to wrong-headed decisions.

Tool development using mobile technology for analysing behavioural patterns and affective responses within activity-based work environments

J.G. Hoendervanger, N.W. Van Yperen, & M.P. Mobach

The current project was set-up to develop and test a tailor-made mobile application for collecting data regarding behavioural patterns and affective responses in activity-based work environments, using the experience sampling method (ESM). The aim of this project was to overcome limitations of existing research methods that are related to specific characteristics of this field of study. For instance, daily behaviour (e.g. the use of certain workplaces) is affected by unconscious motivations and habits, the nature of activities (e.g. level of concentration) cannot be fully understood and assessed by an external observer, and space-time patterns are complex and therefore difficult to record. In a large-scale pilot project, respondents answered questions about their work location, type of workplace, type of activity, and satisfaction, several times a day during two weeks. These data were combined with questionnaires covering psychological needs and other personal and job characteristics. The resulting dataset enabled detailed and thorough analyses of (individual differences regarding) behavioural patterns and affective responses. The results illuminate the potential benefits of applying contemporary mobile technologies as a research strategy, allowing environmental psychologists to improve the analyses of behavioural patterns and perceptions in the built environment.

The benefits of conducting Actor Analyses within the field of Environmental Psychology

J. Eyckmann, D. Zeyer, D. Rode, & P. Schweizer-Ries

When investigating issues of environmental psychology involving different actors, actor analysis can be a useful tool. Ignoring actors can lead to shortcomings or the failure of a project. It is of particular importance that all actors or groups of actors are involved in the analysis, independently of their “stake”. The term actor might illustrate this better than stakeholder. When used in environmental psychology, an approach focusing on the actors’ subjective perspective on the research topic seems most appropriate. The hereby generated insight allows for participative transformation processes and conflict prevention. We emphasize that there is more than one way to conduct an actor analysis and that the suitable methodology depends essentially on the purpose of the analysis and the resources available. Actor analyses may comprise any combination of quantitative and qualitative methods. Examples from our research illustrate empirical applications of the method such as the gathering and clustering of concerns and needs of actors regarding new high-voltage power lines in Germany and visualizing them in actors’ maps. Further application possibilities as well as limits of the method will be discussed.