The Urban Realities Laboratory – Psychology Department, University of Waterloo
with support from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada
You don’t need to be a psychologist to know that your surroundings affect how you feel and what you think about. But how, exactly, do these effects arise? Why does a tranquil urban park make us feel good and how does it change the way that we pay attention to things? How does the dizzying complexity of a major intersection, filled with people, noise, lights, and signs, affect our mood and our stress levels? The upcoming exhibition Psychology on the Street will examine these questions, giving visitors a chance to learn more about the psychological effects of urban environments.
At the Urban Realities Laboratory, directed by Dr. Colin Ellard at the University of Waterloo, researchers are trying to understand the relationships between urban place and individual psychology. One of their main methods is to accompany participants on walks through city neighborhoods, on routes that are carefully chosen to help study and understand how the form of a city affects the lives of its citizens. They have conducted such walks in a wide range of urban environments from Waterloo, Ontario, to New York City, Berlin, and Mumbai.
Every Saturday, for the duration of this exhibition, researchers will take small groups of participants on such walks, beginning at Urbanspace Gallery at 401 Richmond. Using a combination of questionnaires and specialized equipment, researchers will use these walks as an opportunity to collect data that will help to develop a psychological portrait of downtown Toronto. At the conclusion of each walk, the group will get to see the data that was collected and will learn how it might be used to build better cities.
For further details, including instructions on how to sign up for one of these free walks, you can visit www.psychologyonthestreet.com. For those who would prefer, a selection of self-guided walks will be available using a downloadable phone app.
The Urban Realities Laboratory