Dr Birgitta Gatersleben
All human behaviour takes place in a physical environment. These environments have significant impact on the way people feel, think and act. At the same time people are constantly modifying their physical environment either consciously or not. My research studies these people-environment interactions. I am particularly interested in issues related to transport, environmental stress and restoration and sustainable living.
Areas of specialism
Environmental stress and wellbeing;
University roles and responsibilities
- Head of Environmental Psychology section
- Director of Environmental Psychology Research Group
- Programme Leader of the MSc in Environmental Psychology
In the media
Contact the press team
Phone: +44 (0)1483 684380 / 688914 / 684378
Out-of-hours: +44 (0)7773 479911
Senate House, University of Surrey
Guildford, Surrey GU2 7XH
My research focuses on human-environment interactions in particular in relation to transport, natural and urban environments and sustainable lifestyles.
The way in which people move through their environment has profound impact on their own life as well as their environment. My research in this area focus on two themes: the symbolic-affective aspects of transport mode choices (or how walking, cycling and driving makes people feel) and (perceived) environmental quality. Examples of research projects include:
- When it comes to how I travel, who am I?
- The car as a material possession.
- Cycling stereotypes and identities.
- Instrumental, affective and symbolic aspects of the journey to work.
- Promoting cycling to work: attitudes and perceptions in different stages of change.
- Comparing perceptions of transport problems and travel demand management between residents, policy makers and organisations.
Perceived environmental quality
- Hoody, goody, buddy. How mode use influences social perceptions
- The impact of the Jubilee Line extension in London on travel behaviour, place attachment and neighbourhood quality.
- The risk perceptions of transport generated air pollution.
Environmental stress and restoration
Environmental stressors such as traffic noise and pollution can significantly damage human wellbeing. Engagement with natural tranquil spaces, on the other hand, can help people recover from stress and mental fatigue. My research in this area tries to understand when and how different environments affect human wellbeing. Examples of projects include:
- Greenery on and around residential buildings.
- The psychological effects of exposure to bird song.
- The impact of fear on the restorative potential and perceived quality or urban and natural environments.
- The effect of outdoor experiences on the mood and confidence of adolescents.
- Blind people’s perceptions of natural environments.
Much of my work in this area has been part of larger multidisciplinary projects examining motivations of consumer and pro-environmental behaviours and wellbeing. I am particularly interested in studying the link between consumer values and identities and wellbeing. Projects include:
- Living well with less
- Sustainable lifestyles and wellbeing
- Exploring consumer identities to understand pro-environmental behaviour
- Materialism and wellbeing
- Using smart technology to promote energy conservation
- Evaluating large scale corporate sustainability interventions
- LiveLagom: Sustainable Consumption Changes (COI)
- 2015 – 2019; IKEA
- With Centre for Environmental Strategies (CES) at Surrey
- CUSP: Centre for Research on Prosperity Without Growth (COI)
- 2016 – 2021; ESRC
- With CES, Sociology and several other institutions in the UK
- SLRG (Sustainable Lifestyle Research Group) (COI)
- 2010 – 2013; ESRC, DEFRA, Scottish Government
- With CES, Sociology (Surrey), Universities of Bath, Sussex and Edinburgh, Institute of Fiscal Studies
- REDUCE (Reshaping Energy Demand of Users by Communication Technology and Economic Incentives) (COI)
- 2010 – 2013; EPSRC
- With Centre for Communications Research, University of Surrey and CES at Surrey
- RESOLVE (Research on Lifestyles, Values and the Environment) (COI)
- 2006 – 2011; ESRC
- With CES, Sociology and Economics at Surrey
- Sustainable lifestyle survey (PI)
- 2011; EDEN project
- Hoody Goody Buddy (PI)
- 2009 – 2010; Joseph Rowntree Foundation
- With Cadense Works, Sheffield
- BARENERGY (Barriers for energy changes among end consumers and households) (PI)
- 2008 – 2010; EU Framework 7 programme
- With SIFO, Sweden, TNO, The Netherlands, University of Groningen, The Netherlands, EdF, France, University of St Gallen, Switserland, Central European University, Hungary, Centre for Sustainable Energy, UK
- Investigation motivations of segments (COI)
- 2008; DEFRA
- With CES, Surrey
- Evidence Base Review on Public Attitudes to Climate Change and Transport Behaviour (PI)
- 2005 – 2006; DfT
- With Robert Gordon University, Ecolane
- ToolSust (The involvement of stakeholders to develop and implement tools for sustainable households in the city of tomorrow) (PI)
- 2000 – 2003; EU framework 5 programme
- With SIFO, Norway, University of Groningen, The Netherlands, University of Padua, Italy
- Croco-cycles and walking buses (COI)
- 2001 – 2002; Surrey County Council
- Jubilee line Extension Perception Study (COI)
- 1999 and 2000; Oxford Brookes University and Transport for London (Jubilee Line Impact Study)
- The risk perceptions of transport generated air pollution.
- 1998-2001: Guildford Borough Council
Workshops and networks
- Too cute to kill? From the depiction of animals in children’s literature to the framing of government policy by adults (COI)
- 2016: IAS: £4,000;
- With VET school and School of English and Languages at Surrey and University of Reading
- Lifestyles in transition; opportunities for sustainable lifestyles? (COI)
- 2014: IAS: £ 4,000
- With Sociology and CES at Surrey
- Psychology of Sustainable Development BPS seminar series (COI)
- 2010 – 2011: ESRC: £3,000 (£1,000 to Surrey)
- With Cardiff University and University of Exeter
- OHN: Outdoor Health Network (COI)
- 2009 – 2010; ESRC: £13,859 to Surrey
- With 26 researchers from 15 different institutions (e.g., University’s of Surrey, Brighton, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Natural England, Forestry commission, NHS Highland) participated in this project.
- Environmental Socialisation within the European news media (PI)
- 2000; ESF Term II: (total: around 300,00 FRF: 45,000 Euro)
- With Copenhagen Business school (Denmark), University of Plymouth, University of Groningen, University of Hohenheim, l'Università di Parma.
Postgraduate research supervision
Laura Cowen: Mental models of energy use.
Patrick Elf: Live LAGOM (EngD student with IKEA)
Nick Grudgings: Developing sustainable travel in Surrey (EngG with SCC)
Amy Isham Consumerism, environment and wellbeing (CUSP PhD)
Linzi Shearer: Encouraging waste reduction and prevention (EngD with SCC)
Emma White Environmental restoration and garden design
Chris Wiles: Using VR to study environmental restoration and mental health
Mark Newman: Using VR to study nature expeirences
Clara Weber: Privacy in open plan offices
Eleanor Ratcliffe (2015). The effects of listening to birdsong on restoration from stress and cognitive fatigue.
Alison Armstrong (2012). Mindfulness and Consumerism; A Social Psychological Investigation
Matthew Andrews (2010). When Walking in Nature is not Restorative.
Gillis, K. & Gatersleben, B. (2015). A Review of Psychological Literature on the Health and Wellbeing Benefits of Biophilic Design. Buildings 2015, 5(3), 948-963; doi:10.3390/buildings5030948
Murtagh, N., Gatersleben, B., Cowen, L & Uzzell, D (2015). Does perception of automation undermine pro-environmental behaviour? Findings from three everyday settings. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 04/2015; 45. DOI:10.1016/j.jenvp.2015.04.002
Shaw, B., Coyle, A., Gatersleben, B. & Ungar, S. (2015). Exploring nature experiences of people with visual impairments / Vivir la naturaleza con una discapacidad visual. Psyecology: Revista Bilingüe de Psicología Ambiental / Bilingual Journal of Environmental Psychology. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/21711976.2015.1026086
Burningham, K., Venn, S., Christie, I, Jackson, T. & Gatersleben, B (2014). New Motherhood: a moment of change in everyday shopping practices? Young Consumers. 15, 3, 211- 226
Murtagh, N., Gatersleben, B. & Uzzell, D (2014). A qualitative study of perspectives on household and societal impacts of demand response. Technology Analysis and Strategic Management, 11/2014; DOI:10.1080/09537325.2014.974529
Murtagh, N., Gatersleben, B. & Uzzell, D. (2014). 20:60:20-Differences in Energy Behaviour and Conservation between and within Households with Electricity Monitors. PLoS ONE, 03/2014; 9(3):e92019. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0092019
Davis, N. & Gatersleben, B. (2013).Transcendent Experiences in Wild and Manicured Settings: The Influence of the Trait Connectedness to Nature. Ecopsychology, 5, 2, 92-102.
Gatersleben, B. & Andrews, M (2013). When walking in nature is not restorative; The role of prospect and refuge. Health and Place, 20, 91-101.
Gatersleben, B. Murtagh, N. & White, E. (2013). Hoody, goody or buddy? How travel mode affects social perceptions in urban neighbourhoods Transportation Research Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour, 21, 219-230.
Murtagh, N., Nati, M, Headley, W., Gatersleben, B., Gluhak, A, Imran, M., Uzzell, D. (2013). Individual energy use and feedback in an office setting: a field trial. Energy Policy, 62, 717-728.
Ratcliffe, E., Gatersleben, B., Sowden, P. (2013). Bird sounds and their contributions to perceived attention restoration and stress recovery , Journal of Environmental Psychology, 36, 221-228.
Gatersleben, B. (2012). The Psychology of Sustainable Transport. The Psychologist, 25, 9, 676-679
Gatersleben, B (2012). Measuring pro-environmental behaviour. In: L. Steg, A. Van den Berg, J. de Groot (eds). Environmental Psychology, an Introduction, Chapter 13, 132-140.
Gatersleben, B. C. M., Murtagh, N. & Abrahamse, W. (2012). Values, identity and pro-environmental behaviour, Contemporary Social Science: Journal of the Academy of Social Sciences, 1-19. doi:10.1080/21582041.2012.682086
Gatersleben, B and Steg, L. (2012). Affective and symbolic aspects of environmental behaviour. In: L. Steg, A. Van den Berg, J. de Groot (eds). Environmental Psychology, an Introduction, Chapter 16, 166-174.
Murtagh N, Gatersleben B, Uzzell D. (2012) 'Self-identity Threat and Resistance to Change: Evidence from Regular Travel Behaviour'. Elsevier Journal of Environmental Psychology, 32 (4), pp. 318-326. doi: 10.1016/j.jenvp.2012.05.008
Murtagh N, Gatersleben B, Uzzell D. (2012) 'Multiple identities and travel mode choice for regular journeys'. Elsevier Transportation Research Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour, 15 (5), pp. 514-524. doi: 10.1016/j.trf.2012.05.002. Full text is available at: http://epubs.surrey.ac.uk/533331/
Gatersleben, B. (2011). The car as a material possession. Exploring the link between materialism and car ownership and use. In: K. Lucas, E. Blumenberg and R. Weinberger (eds). Auto Motives. Understanding Car Use Behaviours. Emerald.Andrews, M. and Gatersleben, B. (2010). Variations in perception of danger, fear and preference in a simulated natural environment. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 30, 4, 473-481.
Gatersleben, B. White, E. Abrahamse, W. Jackson, T. & Uzzell, D. (2010) Values and sustainable lifestyles. In: Roaf, S. (Ed) (2010). Transforming Markets in the Built Environment: Adapting for Climate Change, Earthscan Publications Ltd. April.
Gatersleben, B. White, E. Abrahamse, W. Jackson, T. & Uzzell, D. (2010) Values and sustainable lifestyles, Architectural Science Review, 53, 2010, 1-14
Gatersleben, B. and Haddad, H. (2010). Who is the typical bicyclist? Transportation Research, Part F, 13, 41-48.
White, E. and Gatersleben, B. (2010). Greenery on residential buildings, does it affect preferences and perceptions of beauty? Journal of Environmental Psychology, 31, 89-98.
Gatersleben, B. (2008). Humans and nature; Ten useful findings from Environmental Psychology research, Counselling Psychology Review, 23,2, 24-34.
Gatersleben, B. and Appleton, K. (2007). Contemplating cycling to work; attitudes and perceptions in different stages of change. Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, 41, 302-312.
Gatersleben, B., Clark, C., Reeve, A. and Uzzell, D. (2007). The influence of a new transport link on residential communities in London, UK. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 27, 145-153.
Gatersleben, B. and Uzzell, D. (2007). The journey to work: exploring commuter mood among driver, cyclists, walkers and users of public transport. Environment and Behavior, 39, 416-431.
Gatersleben, B. (2007). Affective and symbolic aspects of car use: a review. In: T. Gärling and L. Steg (eds). Threats to the Quality of Urban Life from Car Traffic: Problems, Causes, and Solutions, Elsevier, Amsterdam, Chapter 12, 219-234.
Meader, N., Uzzell, D. & Gatersleben, B. (2006). Cultural theory and quality of life. European Review of Applied Psychology, 56, 61-69.
Anable, J. and Gatersleben, B. (2005). All work and no play? The positive utility of travel for work compared to leisure journeys. Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Volume 39, p. 163-181
Gatersleben, B. and Uzzell, D. (2004). Perceptions of car users and policy makers on the effectiveness and acceptability of car travel reduction measures: an attribution theory approach. In: Rothengatter, T. and Huguenin, R. (eds). Traffic and Transport Psychology; Theory and Practice, p 469-480.
Gatersleben, B. and Uzzell, D. (2003). Local transport problems and possible solutions. Comparing perceptions of residents, councillors, officers and organisations. Local Environment, Volume 8, no 4, 387-406.
Gatersleben, B., Steg, L. and Vlek, C. (2002). The measurement and determinants of Environmentally significant consumer behaviour. Environment and Behaviour. 34, 3, 335-362.
Gatersleben, B. (2001). Sustainable household consumption and quality of life: The acceptability of sustainable consumption patterns and consumer policy strategies. International Journal of Environment and Pollution, 15, 2, 200-216.
Gatersleben, B. and Uzzell, D. (2000). The risk perception of transport-generated air-pollution. Journal of the International Association of Traffic and Safety Science, 24, 1, 23-33.
Gatersleben, B. and Vlek, Ch. (1998). Household consumption, quality of life and environmental impacts: a psychological perspective and empirical study. In: Noorman, K.J. and Schoot-Uiterkamp, A.J.M. (eds). Green households? Domestic Consumers Environment and Sustainability. London: Earthscan Publications Ltd.
Gatersleben, B., and Vlek, Ch. (1997). Understanding household metabolism in view of environmental quality and sustainable development. In: Antonides, G., and Van Raaij, W.F., and Maital, S. (eds). Advances in Economic Psychology, Chichester: John Wiley and Sons, Ltd.
Staats, H., Gatersleben, B., and Hartig, T. (1997). Change in mood as a function of environmental design: arousal and pleasure on a simulated forest hike. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 17 283-300.
Staats, H., Gatersleben, B., and Kips, J. (1994). A walk in a future forest. Research on emotional quality in design. Topos: European Landscape Magazine, 6, 103-109.
Vlek, Ch., Skolnik, M., and Gatersleben, B. (1998). Sustainable development and quality of life: expected effects of projected changes in economic and environmental conditions. Zeitschrift für Experimentele Psychologie, 45, 4, 319-333.
Abrahamse, W., B. Gatersleben and D. Uzzell (2009) Encouraging Sustainable Food Consumption: The Role of (Threatened) Identity, RESOLVE Working Paper Series, 04-09, University of Surrey, June 2009.
White, E., D. Uzzell, N. Ratzhel and B. Gatersleben (2010), Using Life Histories in Psychology: A Methodological Guide, RESOLVE Working Paper Series, 01-10, Guildford: University of Surrey.
Gatersleben, B., E. White, W. Abrahamse, T. Jackson and D. Uzzell (2009) Materialism and Environmental Concern. Examining Values and Lifestyle Choices among Participants of the 21st Century Living Project., RESOLVE Working Paper Series, 01-09, University of Surrey, June 2009.
Gatersleben, B., Meadows, J. Abrahamse, W. and Jackson, T. (2008). Materialistic and environmental values among young people volunteering in nature conservation projects. RESOLVE working Paer Series 07-08, University of Surrey
Carlsson-Kanyama, A., Dreborg, K, Eenkhorn, B., Engström, R., Falkena, H., Gatersleben, B., Henriksson, V., Kok, R., Moll, H., Padovan, D., Rigoni, F., Stø, E., Throne-Holst, H., Tite, L., and Vittersø, G. (2003). Images of everyday life in the future sustainable city:Experiences of back-casting with stakeholders in five European cities, Toolsust Deliverable No. 19
Gatersleben, B. and Clark, C. (2003). Public Participation and Environmental Decision making Toolsust Deliverable No. 14 c. University of Surrey, Guildford
Gatersleben, B., Uzzell, DL. and Clark, C. (2003). Jubilee Line Extension: LTR Perception Study, Phase II Report, Jubilee Line Extension Impact Study Unit, University of Westminster
Tite, L. and Gatersleben, B. (2003). Possibilities for long-term changes of city life: Experiences of backcasting with stakeholders Toolsust Deliverable No. 18 University of Surrey, Guildford
Gatersleben, B., Uzzell, DL. and Clark, C. (2002). Jubilee Line Extension Impact Study Unit. Perception Study, Baseline Report, Working Paper No. 25, Jubilee Line Extension Impact Study Unit, University of Westminster
Gatersleben, B., Leach, R., and Uzzell, D. (2002). Walking Buses and Croco-Cycles: Implementing and Evaluating a Safe Walking and Cycle Routes to School Programme. University of Surrey.
Gatersleben, B. (2001). Stakeholders and consumption in the five cities. UK National Report - Guildford. ToolSust Deliverable No 6. Guildford: Department of Psychology, University of Surrey, UK
Gatersleben, B., Leach, R. and Uzzell, D. (2001). Travel to school; Studying and promoting walking and cycling to school in four junior schools and one secondary school in Ash, Guildford. University of Surrey, Guildford, UK.
Gatersleben, B. and Uzzell, D. (2000). Residents' perceptions of transport problems and sustainable solutions in Guildford. GBCRS Report 1. University of Surrey, Guildford.
Gatersleben, B. and Uzzell, D. (2000). Perceptions of transport problems and sustainable solutions in Guildford; the view of local organisations. GBCRS Report 2. University of Surrey, Guildford.
Gatersleben, B. and Uzzell, D. (2000). Perceptions of transport problems and sustainable solutions in Guildford; the view of Guildford Borough Councillors and officers. GBCRS Report 3. University of Surrey, Guildford.
Golding, S, Gatersleben, B., & Cropley, M. (2018). An Experimental Exploration of the Effects of Exposure to Images of Nature on Rumination. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 15, 1-19.
Gatersleben, B., Murtagh, N, Cherry, M, & Watkins, M. (2017) Moral, wasteful, frugal, or thrifty? Identifying consumer identities to understand and manage pro-environmental behavior. Environment and Behavior, 1-26
Cowen, L. & Gatersleben, B. (2017) Testing for the size heuristic in householders' perceptions of energy consumption. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 54, 103-115.
Gatersleben, B. & Griffin, I. (2016). Environmental Stress. In: Fleury-Bahi, Ghozlane, Pol, Enric, Navarro, Oscar (Eds.). Handbook of Environmental Psychology and Quality of Life Research, Springer, pp. 469 – 485.
Greenwood, A. & Gatersleben, B. (2016). Let's go outside! Environmental restoration amongst adolescents and the impact of friends and phones. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 48, 131-139.
Ratcliffe, E., Gatersleben, B., & Sowden, PT. (2016). Associations with bird sounds: How do they relate to perceived restorative potential? Journal of Environmental Psychology, 48, 136-144.
Shearer, L., Gatersleben, B. Morse, S. Smyth, M & Hunt, S. (2016, in press). A problem unstuck? Evaluating the effectiveness of sticker prompts for encouraging household food waste recycling behaviour. Waste Management.