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Posts Tagged ‘Sense of place’

Call for Abstracts: The Psychology of Heritage Places

Please consider this unique opportunity, below, to participate in solidifying a new field of study. 

Accepted papers will be published in a special collection in Collabra: Psychology, a refereed journal from the University of California Press. These papers will be open access (available to anyone over the Internet, free of charge) to an international audience. Even if you have never considered publishing on a topic related to environmental psychology, there is a wide range of possible paper types, and the opportunity to completely define new theoretical and research directions from the unique perspective of an ICH scholar.

The Psychology of Heritage Places



Addressing a Neglected Area in Environmental Psychology

Second call for abstracts — special Collabra: Psychology research nexus

Jeremy C. Wells, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, University of Maryland, College Park;
Daniel J. Levi, Ph.D., Professor, Psychology and Child Development, Cal Poly;
Erica Molinario, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Researcher, Department of Psychology, University of Maryland, College Park;

Abstract submission deadline: August 30, 2019

The problem: Psychologists (and their proponents) do not appear interested in built heritage

Attention from psychologists in people-historic environment contexts is minimal. Regardless of the authors’ disciplines, scholarly articles, chapters, and books that address built heritage from a social science perspective fail to use methods from environmental and/or social psychology. In sum, with few exceptions, there is no representation from psychology in the social science literature that addresses built heritage. (Some of these exceptions are Ahn [2013], Askari, Dola, and Soltani [2014], Herzog and Gale [1996]; Herzog and Shier [2000], Levi [2005], Uzzell [2009], Wells and Baldwin [2012], and Wells [2017].) This special research nexus is therefore a call to action for researchers interested in validating the psychology of heritage places as an acceptable and needed area of research.

Why a psychological perspective on built heritage?

Environmental psychologists care about how the design of new buildings and places impact people and their behavior, but for some reason have overlooked the study of heritage environments. Or, in a more critical sense, psychologists have long neglected a normal part of everyday human experience. Traditionally understood to be closely associated with the fields of design, architecture, and history, built heritage conservation is increasingly being reconceptualized as a social science endeavor, especially through the rise of what has become known as “critical heritage studies” (Harrison 2013; Smith 2006; Winter 2013).

What are the fundamental characteristics that define research in the psychology of heritage places?

For the purposes of this special collection, submitted papers need to consider these
three fundamental characteristics associated with heritage places and social and environmental psychology:  

  1. A central focus on old or “historic” environments from a theoretical and/or empirical perspective;
  2. Research methods primarily associated with environmental psychology, such as behavioral mapping, environmental attitude measurement, phenomenologies, visual preferences, simulated environments, post occupancy evaluations, and neuroscience, among other possibilities;
  3. A theoretical construct based on place identity, place attachment, environmental perception, and the settings in which certain behaviors occur.

How you can contribute to this research nexus

All papers are welcome that address the historic environment and psychological perspectives in some way. While submissions from trained psychologists are especially encouraged, there is no disciplinary requirement. Authors from other disciplines should approach their work through methodological and/or theoretical approaches from social and/or environmental psychology. Specific suggestions for areas that papers could address include:

  1. How a psychological approach could improve historic preservation/built heritage conservation practice;
  2. Neuroscience applied to the perception of and behavior in historic environments;
  3. A focus on senescent environments, or built environments that are defined by the way their materials change and degrade over time. This could include studies on the perception of decay and patina and their emotional effect on people;
  4. Studies that address the psychological dimensions of perceived and experiential authenticity;
  5. Analyses of historic preservation/heritage conservation doctrine and/or rules and regulations from a psychological perspective;
  6. Addressing social justice and equity issues by providing an empirical basis for heritage conservation practice that is largely lacking today;
  7. Cross-cultural, psychological perspectives on historic environments;
  8. Registered reports. Because it is likely that most prospective authors seeing this call for abstracts have not yet started research on a topic, this type of paper describes the research question(s), methods, and proposed analyses for research that is being proposed, but not yet implemented.

How to submit an abstract proposal for a paper

All interested authors should first submit a 300-word abstract by August 30, 2019 that proposes one the following types of papers: original research report, review article, perspective/opinion article, or a registered report. Because of the current paucity of research in this area, registered reports are especially encouraged because they focus on proposed, rather than completed, research. For more details, see

Authors should email their abstract with their full name, contact information, and institutional affiliation to Jeremy C. Wells ( with “Collabra: Psychology abstract” in the message subject. Successful authors will be invited to submit a full paper that will then undergo the normal peer review process for the journal.

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Our island home: Difference, marginality, community construction and implications for heritage

This paper considers considers the understandings of attachment, identity and place found within the communities of a small offshore Queensland Island: Magnetic Island, which is located in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and World Heritage Area. Individuals, as members of the island community (which is characterised by various unbounded community groups), in living their day to day lives on the island, engage in a quest for identity and authenticity that is involved in a relationship between identity-making as a process and the way in which worlds and ways of living are meaningfully constituted. One of the outcomes is that the past is selectively constructed and organised in a relationship of continuity with the lived experience of the island environment and the nostalgic recreation and reinforcement of both place and community. In so doing the various physical features and intangible aspects of the island, and indeed the community itself, is imbued with cultural meanings that also act to reinforce the islander sense of marginality, difference and separation.
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‘If you have an elephant, you do not want to walk on the ground’: The Thai elephant as a nexus between culture and nature

The above Thai proverb is one of many reflections on the inseparable relationship between people and elephants in Thai life. It is an enduring relationship that reflects the close connection between the natural and cultural elements of a lived, experienced and imagined landscape, imbued with traditions and practices, beliefs and life ways, and social processes that serve to create identity, community and a sense of ‘being in place’.
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