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An Emotional Model of Human-Environment Interaction

Küller, Rikard LU (2004) Evaluation in Progress - Strategies for Environmental Research and Implementation (IAPS 18 Conference Proceedings on CD-Rom In [Host publication title missing]
Abstract
Previous models of environmental psychology have put the focus mainly on the cognitive processes, with each step in the process leading to the next in a rather static manner. This may be exemplified by some of the attitude theories developed over the last years (e.g. Ajzen and Fishbein, 1980; Stern, 2000). Among the few exceptions to the cognitive approach is Russell’s Circumplex model of emotional response to environmental settings, where two dimensions are used in order to describe the human-environment interaction (Russell et al., 1981). Recently, however, several authors have pointed to the need to put more emphasis on the emotional aspects – so called ‘hot cognition’. Actually, recent research in the field of neuropsychology indicates... (More)
Previous models of environmental psychology have put the focus mainly on the cognitive processes, with each step in the process leading to the next in a rather static manner. This may be exemplified by some of the attitude theories developed over the last years (e.g. Ajzen and Fishbein, 1980; Stern, 2000). Among the few exceptions to the cognitive approach is Russell’s Circumplex model of emotional response to environmental settings, where two dimensions are used in order to describe the human-environment interaction (Russell et al., 1981). Recently, however, several authors have pointed to the need to put more emphasis on the emotional aspects – so called ‘hot cognition’. Actually, recent research in the field of neuropsychology indicates that affective responses are faster and more basic than cognitive processes (Armony et al, 1997; Damasio, 1994; DeBecker, 1997; LeDoux, 1996). Over the last 30 years I have been concerned with the development of an environmental model, which is build around ‘the basic emotional process’. From an evolutionary perspective emotions may be regarded as instrumental for survival in an ever changing environment. For instance, fear is the emotional response to a hostile event, leading to aversive behaviour, whereas pleasure or anger might instead result in approach. The whole range of aesthetical responses can be regarded as a reward-aversion continuum in relation to external events. According to the present model the Basic Emotional Process evolves in four consecutive steps: Activation, Orientation, Evaluation, and Control. The physiological correlates of these steps were described in detail by Küller (1991). 1. Activation: The process begins by a change of some kind either in the eternal environment or in the mental representation of that environment. 2. Orientation: This is followed by exploratory behaviour, either in the external world or as an extended memory search. 3. Evaluation: The outcome is evaluated in terms of the significance for the individual, resulting in a positive, neutral, negative, (or conflicting) outcome. 4. Control: The process is terminated through overt behaviour or a restructuring of the cognitive structure, or both. The Basic Emotional Process is related to various characteristics of the individual and the environment in an elaborate model, each part of which has been corroborated by previous research, amongst other by means of multivariate analysis (Figure 1). The Built Environment can be further described in eight factors: Pleasantness, Complexity, Unity, Enclosedness, Potency, Social Status, Affection, and Originality. The relationship between some of these factors and the Basic Emotional Process has been empirically tested. For instance, an increase of Complexity, and a decrease of Unity, can result in heightened Activation of the central nervous system (Küller and Mikellides, 1993). (As this submission does not accept figure, this will be attached to mail.) Figure 1. The Basic Emotional Process is influenced by the Built and the Social Environment. This is mediated through the Individual’s Activities and Resources. The Social Environment can be described by means of five factors: Social Intensity, Interpersonal Stability, Familiarity, Coherence, and Friendliness of the situation, whereas the ongoing Activities may be analysed in terms of Work Load, Satisfaction, Routine, and Variation. As for the description of the Individual Resources this can be done by means of classical psychological descriptors, such as Emotionality and Excitability, modified through individual Coping Strategies. The ongoing processes might cover briefer or longer time periods, for instance, driving a car during rush hours, or office work during a normal week. The present model has been employed fully, or partly, in a number of experimental and field studies. Küller (1979) used the model as a theoretical and experimental framework in a study of social crowding and the complexity of the built environment. It was employed by the same author in a large study of housing for the elderly in Sweden (1988). In one study of daycare environments Laike (1997) found that extrovert children displayed higher levels of control than introvert children. Johansson (2000) used the model as a theoretical framework in a study of attitudes to pro-environmental travel behaviour, and Drottenborg (2002) used it to study whether beautiful traffic environments are safer than ugly ones. Küller and Janssens (1999) tested the complete model in a field study at the Meteorological Station at the Sturup Airport, Malmö, Sweden, and the outcome formed the basis for a redesign of the station. The model lends itself to application at several different environmental levels, such as, indoor climate, urban planning, and landscape design. (Less)
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[Host publication title missing]
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Martens, B and Keul, AG
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Evaluation in Progress - Strategies for Environmental Research and Implementation (IAPS 18 Conference Proceedings on CD-Rom
ISBN
3-85437-263-9
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English
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yes
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5a3fccac-dc60-4df3-bd4b-be2e83f7597c (old id 1040502)
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date added to LUP
2008-10-31 15:56:46
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@misc{5a3fccac-dc60-4df3-bd4b-be2e83f7597c,
  abstract     = {Previous models of environmental psychology have put the focus mainly on the cognitive processes, with each step in the process leading to the next in a rather static manner. This may be exemplified by some of the attitude theories developed over the last years (e.g. Ajzen and Fishbein, 1980; Stern, 2000). Among the few exceptions to the cognitive approach is Russell’s Circumplex model of emotional response to environmental settings, where two dimensions are used in order to describe the human-environment interaction (Russell et al., 1981). Recently, however, several authors have pointed to the need to put more emphasis on the emotional aspects – so called ‘hot cognition’. Actually, recent research in the field of neuropsychology indicates that affective responses are faster and more basic than cognitive processes (Armony et al, 1997; Damasio, 1994; DeBecker, 1997; LeDoux, 1996). Over the last 30 years I have been concerned with the development of an environmental model, which is build around ‘the basic emotional process’. From an evolutionary perspective emotions may be regarded as instrumental for survival in an ever changing environment. For instance, fear is the emotional response to a hostile event, leading to aversive behaviour, whereas pleasure or anger might instead result in approach. The whole range of aesthetical responses can be regarded as a reward-aversion continuum in relation to external events. According to the present model the Basic Emotional Process evolves in four consecutive steps: Activation, Orientation, Evaluation, and Control. The physiological correlates of these steps were described in detail by Küller (1991). 1. Activation: The process begins by a change of some kind either in the eternal environment or in the mental representation of that environment. 2. Orientation: This is followed by exploratory behaviour, either in the external world or as an extended memory search. 3. Evaluation: The outcome is evaluated in terms of the significance for the individual, resulting in a positive, neutral, negative, (or conflicting) outcome. 4. Control: The process is terminated through overt behaviour or a restructuring of the cognitive structure, or both. The Basic Emotional Process is related to various characteristics of the individual and the environment in an elaborate model, each part of which has been corroborated by previous research, amongst other by means of multivariate analysis (Figure 1). The Built Environment can be further described in eight factors: Pleasantness, Complexity, Unity, Enclosedness, Potency, Social Status, Affection, and Originality. The relationship between some of these factors and the Basic Emotional Process has been empirically tested. For instance, an increase of Complexity, and a decrease of Unity, can result in heightened Activation of the central nervous system (Küller and Mikellides, 1993). (As this submission does not accept figure, this will be attached to mail.) Figure 1. The Basic Emotional Process is influenced by the Built and the Social Environment. This is mediated through the Individual’s Activities and Resources. The Social Environment can be described by means of five factors: Social Intensity, Interpersonal Stability, Familiarity, Coherence, and Friendliness of the situation, whereas the ongoing Activities may be analysed in terms of Work Load, Satisfaction, Routine, and Variation. As for the description of the Individual Resources this can be done by means of classical psychological descriptors, such as Emotionality and Excitability, modified through individual Coping Strategies. The ongoing processes might cover briefer or longer time periods, for instance, driving a car during rush hours, or office work during a normal week. The present model has been employed fully, or partly, in a number of experimental and field studies. Küller (1979) used the model as a theoretical and experimental framework in a study of social crowding and the complexity of the built environment. It was employed by the same author in a large study of housing for the elderly in Sweden (1988). In one study of daycare environments Laike (1997) found that extrovert children displayed higher levels of control than introvert children. Johansson (2000) used the model as a theoretical framework in a study of attitudes to pro-environmental travel behaviour, and Drottenborg (2002) used it to study whether beautiful traffic environments are safer than ugly ones. Küller and Janssens (1999) tested the complete model in a field study at the Meteorological Station at the Sturup Airport, Malmö, Sweden, and the outcome formed the basis for a redesign of the station. The model lends itself to application at several different environmental levels, such as, indoor climate, urban planning, and landscape design.},
  author       = {Küller, Rikard},
  editor       = {Martens, B and Keul, AG},
  isbn         = {3-85437-263-9},
  language     = {eng},
  series       = {[Host publication title missing]},
  title        = {An Emotional Model of Human-Environment Interaction},
  year         = {2004},
}