Birgitta Gatersleben

Dr Birgitta Gatersleben


Reader in Environmental Psychology

Biography

Areas of specialism

Environmental Psychology; Sustainability; Urban living; Environmental stress and wellbeing; Nature experiences

University roles and responsibilities

  • Head of Environmental Psychology section
  • Director of Environmental Psychology Research Group
  • Programme Leader of the MSc in Environmental Psychology

My qualifications

1998
PhD
University of Groningen, The Netherlands
1994
MSc
University of Leiden, The Netherlands

Research

Research interests

My teaching

Supervision

Postgraduate research supervision

My publications

Publications

Gatersleben B (2008) Humans and nature; Ten useful findings from Environmental Psychology research, Counselling Psychology Review 23 (2) pp. 24-34 The British Psychological Society
It is now generally accepted that human activities are damaging the natural environment
we live in and the natural resources that we depend upon. In the long run this
development can have severe consequences for the quality of human life; indirectly, by
depleting the natural resources necessary to sustain our material welfare, but also
directly by damaging the quality of the natural environment (air, water, nature) in which
we live. The presence of sustainability and global climate change on the political agenda
has led to an increase in academic research on the relationship between people and their
natural environment.
Environmental psychologists study the interaction between people and their physical
(built or natural) environment. This paper presents ten findings of environmental
psychology research on people and their natural environment. Nature in this paper refers
to any non-human living environmental features including plants, trees, water features,
but also animals. However, the majority of research in this area focuses on green nature:
i.e., the presence of plants and trees in the environment. This paper shows that most
people are drawn towards natural environments and that passive as well as active
exposure to the natural world has beneficial effects on the health and well-being of
individuals (for overviews see Maller, Townsend, Pryor, Brown and St Leger (2005),
Kahn (1997), Ulrich (1993) and Frumkin (2001). The paper will also show that although
there is a lot we know, there is also a lot we don?t know, particularly in relation to the
psychological processes which underlie the interaction between people and the natural
2
environment. This is just one of the potential areas wherein environmental and
counselling psychologists might collaborate.
Canning PE, Hellawell EE, Hughes SJ, Fairhead CJ, Gatersleben BCM, Brebbia CA (2007) The implementation of the Traffic Management Act in England: the role of technology, URBAN TRANSPORT XIII 96 pp. 381-390 WIT PRESS
Gatersleben B, Murtagh N, Abrahamse W (2012) Values, Identity and Pro-Environmental Behaviour, Contemporary Social Science: Journal of the Academy of Social Sciences Routledge, Taylor & Francis
The importance of understanding and promoting pro-environmental behaviour among individual consumers in modern Western Societies is generally accepted. Attitudes and attitude change are often examined to help reach this goal. But although attitudes are relatively good predictors of behaviour and are relatively easy to change they only help explain specific behaviours. More stable individual factors such as values and identities may affect a wider range of behaviours. In particular factors which are important to the self are likely to influence behaviour across contexts and situations. This paper examines the role of values and identities in explaining individual pro-environmental behaviours. Secondary analyses were conducted on data from three studies on UK residents, with a total of 2694 participants. Values and identities were good predictors of pro-environmental behaviour in each study and identities explain pro-environmental behaviours over and above specific attitudes. The link between values and behaviours was fully mediated by identities in two studies and partially mediated in one study supporting the idea that identities may be broader concepts which incorporate values. The findings lend support for the concept of identity campaigning to promote sustainable behaviour. Moreover, it suggests fruitful future research directions which should explore the development and maintenance of identities.
Gatersleben BCM (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) pp. 200-216
Shearer L, Gatersleben BCM, Morse S, Smyth M, Hunt M (2016) A problem unstuck? Evaluating the effectiveness of sticker prompts for encouraging household food waste recycling behaviour., Waste Management
This Randomised Control Trial (RCT) investigated the effectiveness of using stickers as a visual prompt to encourage the separate collection of household food waste for recycling in two local authorities in South East England. During a baseline period of up to 15 weeks, separately collected food waste was weighed (in tonnes) and averaged across households in both treatment (N = 33,716 households within 29 defined areas) and control groups (N = 30,568 households within 26 areas). A sticker prompt was then affixed to the lids of refuse bins in the treatment group area only. Weights for both groups were subsequently measured across a 16-week experimental period. Results showed that, in the control group, there was no change in the average weight of food waste captured for recycling between the baseline and experimental period. However, there was a significant increase (20.74%) in the treatment group, and this change in behaviour persisted in the longer term. Sticker prompts therefore appear to have a significant and sustained impact on food waste recycling rates, while being simple, practically feasible and inexpensive (£0.35 per household) for local authorities to implement at scale.
Murtagh N, Nati M, Headley WR, Gatersleben Birgitta, Gluhak A, Imran MA, Uzzell David (2013) Individual energy use and feedback in an office setting: A field trial, Energy Policy 62 pp. 717-728 Elsevier
Despite national plans to deploy smart meters in small and medium businesses in the UK, there is little knowledge of occupant energy use in offices. The objectives of the study were to investigate the effect of individual feedback on energy use at the workdesk, and to test the relationship between individual determinants, energy use and energy reduction. A field trial is presented, which monitored occupant energy use and provided individual feedback to 83 office workers in a university. The trial comprised pre- and post-intervention surveys, energy measurement and provision of feedback for 18 weeks post-baseline, and two participant focus groups. The main findings were: statistically significant energy reduction was found, but not for the entire measurement period; engagement with feedback diminished over time; no measured individual variables were related to energy reduction and only attitudes to energy conservation were related to energy use; an absence of motivation to undertake energy reduction actions was in evidence. The implications for energy use in offices are considered, including the need for motivations beyond energy reduction to be harnessed to realise the clear potential for reduced energy use at workdesks. © 2013 The Authors.
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 pp. 219-230 Elsevier
When travelling through a new environment people can and do make very quick judgements about the local conditions. This paper explores the idea that such judgements are affected by the travel mode they use. We hypothesise that drivers generate a more superficial impression of the things they observe than those who walk because they are exposed to less information. This prediction is based on social psychological research that demonstrates that information that becomes available in "thin slices" affects superficial judgements. A survey study (n = 644) demonstrated that perceptions of a less affluent area are indeed negatively related to more driving and positively related to more walking, but only for those who do not live there. Perceptions of a neighbouring affluent area are positively related to more driving. Two experimental studies (n = 245 and n = 91) demonstrated that explicit (but not implicit) attitudes towards a group of young people in an ambiguous social situation are more negative when they are viewed from the perspective of a car user in particular in relation to a pedestrian perspective. These findings suggest that mode use may affect communities by influencing social judgements. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Murtagh N, Gatersleben Birgitta, Uzzell David (2014) Identity Threat and Resistance to Change: Evidence and Implications from Transport-Related Behaviour, In: Breakwell G, Jaspal R (eds.), Identity Process Theory: Identity, Social Action and Social Change pp. 335-356 Cambridge University Press
Gatersleben BCM, Haddad H (2010) Who is the typical bicyclist?, Transportation Research, part F 13 (1) pp. 41-48 Elsevier
Promoting bicycling is important for individual health, environmental sustainability and transport demand management. However, very few people use a bicycle on a regular basis. This paper explores what views bicyclists and non-bicyclists in England may hold about the typical bicyclist and how such views are related to bicycling behaviour and intentions. A survey was conducted among 244 bicyclists and non-bicyclists. On the basis of a range of statements on behaviour, motivation and characteristics of the typical bicyclist, four different stereotypes could be distinguished: responsible, lifestyle, commuter and hippy-go-lucky. These views differed between bicyclists and non-bicyclists. Moreover, independent of past bicycling behaviour, reported intentions to use a bicycle in the future were positively related to perceptions of the typical bicyclist as a commuter or hippy-go-lucky bicyclist. These findings have implications for encouraging bicycling, which may benefit from promoting bicycling as a common day-to-day activity rather than something that is only relevant for a few.
Meader N, Uzzell D, Gatersleben B (2006) Cultural theory and quality of life, European Review of Applied Psychology-Revue Europeenne De Psychologie Appliquee 56 (1) pp. 61-69
Sustainable development has been conceptualised as a "commonwealth of values" lying at the intersection of environmental, economic and social goals (Alternatives 17 (3) (1990) 14). This captures well the approach taken by the present study, which examines the cultural, environmental and economic components of sustainable development and framed within cultural theory. People do not perceive the world through clear eyes, but through perceptual lenses coloured by their worldview. Cultural theory provides an alternative to the conventional attitude-driven approaches to environmental perceptions. This study sought to test the relationship between the four worldviews of cultural theory (hierarchy, egalitarianism, individualism and fatalism) in the context of their Cultural, environmental and economic domains, with particular reference to the costs and benefits of car use. Questionnaires, designed to measure cultural, environmental and economic worldviews, attitudes towards car use and socio-dernographic indices (A theoretical and methodological examination of cultural theory applied to environmental issues. Unpublished Ph.D. thesis, Department of Psychology, University of Surrey (2002)) were sent to residents of a prosperous town in the south-east of England and where car ownership levels are significantly higher than the national average. The findings of this study support the predictions of cultural theory. The results are discussed in terms of their significance both for future research on understanding the predictors of environmental perceptions, attitudes and behaviour, as well as environmental interventions. (c) 2006 Elsevier SAS. All rights reserved.
Canning PE, Hellawell EE, Hughes SJ, Gatersleben BCM, Fairhead CJ (2010) 'Devolution' of transport powers to Local Government: Impacts of the 2004 Traffic Management Act in England, TRANSPORT POLICY 17 (2) pp. 64-71 ELSEVIER SCI LTD
Murtagh N, Gatersleben Birgitta, Uzzell David (2012) Multiple identities and travel mode choice for regular journeys, Transportation Research Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour 15 (5) pp. 514-524 Elsevier
Growing evidence supports a range of non-instrumental factors influencing travel mode. Amongst these, identity has been proposed. However, to date, the relationship has not been systematically investigated and few investigations have harnessed a theoretical framework for identity. Drawing on role theory (Stryker, S., 1980, Symbolic interactionism: A social structural version. CA: Benjamin Cummings), we hypothesised that multiple identities, of varying importance, are related to travel mode choice. The study of 248 UK urban/suburban, working, car-owning parents used survey-based data to test the influence of seven identities on travel mode choice in regular travel. Multiple and logistic regression analyses found multiple identities to be significantly related to travel mode to work, on escort education and on other regular journeys. The study demonstrated different patterns of relationship between identity on different types of journey and found evidence for travel mode choice as embedded within social identities. In addition to the study?s contribution of new empirical findings, its application of a theoretical focus on identity offers additional strategies in attempting to change travel behaviours towards sustainability.
Canning PE, Hughes SJ, Hellawell EE, Gatersleben BCM, Fairhead CJ (2010) Reasons for participating in formal employer-led carpool schemes as perceived by their users, Transportation Planning and Technology 33 (8) pp. 733-745
White E, Gatersleben BCM (2011) Greenery on UK Residential Buildings: Does it affect preferences and perceptions of beauty?, Journal of Environmental Psychology 31 (1) pp. 89-98 Elsevier
Recently there has been a surge in the number of green roofs and façades (vegetation on the roofs & walls of a building) installed in the UK, with advocation of their use by policy-makers and claims that they are aesthetically pleasing and promote restoration. But these claims rely on generalisations from different landscapes, raising concerns about validity. The present study examined whether houses with vegetation would be more preferred than those without, be perceived as more beautiful and restorative, and have a more positive affective quality. Differences between types of building-integrated vegetation were also examined. Two studies were conducted: an online survey in which participants (N = 188) rated photographs of houses with and without vegetation on each of these measures, and interviews (N = 8) which examined preference and installation concerns. Results showed that houses with (some types of) building-integrated vegetation were significantly more preferred, beautiful, restorative, and had a more positive affective quality than those without. The ivy façade and meadow roof rated highest on each. These findings are consistent with other areas of landscape research and the claims of those in the industry, and suggest that building-integrated vegetation would be a valuable addition to the urban environment.
Ratcliffe E, Gatersleben B, Sowden PT (2013) Bird sounds and their contributions to perceived attention restoration and stress recovery, Journal of Environmental Psychology 36 pp. 221-228 Elsevier
Natural environments, and particularly visual stimuli in nature, are usually perceived as restorative following stress and attention fatigue. Studies extending these findings to auditory natural stimuli have used soundscapes comprising multiple types of sound. Birdsong recurs as a type of sound used in such studies, but little is known about restorative perceptions of bird sounds on their own and how these may relate to existing theories of environmental restoration. Via semi-structured interviews with twenty adult participants, bird songs and calls were found to be the type of natural sound most commonly associated with perceived stress recovery and attention restoration. However, not all bird sounds were regarded as helpful for such processes. Three themes formed the basis of these perceived relationships: affective appraisals, cognitive appraisals, and relationships with nature. Sub-themes of the acoustic, aesthetic, and associative properties of bird sounds were also related to restorative perceptions. Future studies should quantitatively examine the potential of a variety of bird sounds to aid attention restoration and stress recovery, and how these might be predicted by acoustic, aesthetic, and associative properties, in order to better understand how and why sounds such as birdsong might provide restorative benefits.

This work was supported by the Economic and Social Research Council [grant number ES/J500148/1]; the
National Trust; and the Surrey Wildlife Trust.

Bratanova B, Loughnan S, Gatersleben B (2012) The Moral Circle as a Common Motivational Cause of Cross-situational Proenvironmentalism, European Journal of Social Psychology 42 (5) pp. 539-545 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Public engagement in pro-environmental behavior and support for pro-environmental policy are essential for achieving sustainable living. We propose that the ?moral circle? is a common motivational source for engagement in environmentally beneficial activities across situations, and may be thus drawn upon to efficiently promote these activities. Study 1 established an association between chronic moral circle size and 9 pro-environmental activities from different domains. Via experimental manipulation of the moral circle size, studies 2a-d demonstrated its causal effect on intentions to engage in pro-environmental activities. Together, these studies offer an important initial demonstration of the beneficial consequences of more expansive moral circle in the domain of pro-environmentalism. Routes for expanding the moral circle and thus promoting pro-environmental activities are discussed.
Davis N, Gatersleben BCM (2013) Transcendent Experiences in Wild and Manicured Settings: The Influence of the Trait ?Connectedness to Nature., Ecopsychology 5 (2) pp. 92-102 Mary Ann Liebert
Research has overwhelmingly shown that spending time in nature can be beneficial. Yet
the field is dominated by studies which compare built and manicured natural
environments. Therefore relatively little is known about experiences in wild or untamed
natural environments and what personal factors may affect these experiences. This study
compares visitor experiences, measured as affective appraisals and transcendence, in two
distinct natural environments (wild cliffs and manicured gardens), and how the trait
?connectedness to nature? may influence these experiences (N=253). Significant
differences were found between visitor?s experiences at the wild cliffs (disturbing, aweinspiring
and diminutive transcendence) and the manicured gardens (calming, boring, and
deep flow transcendence). Regression analysis revealed three significant interactions and
two significant non-linear results. High levels of ?connectedness to nature? at the cliffs
positively predicted transcendence and a sense of awe; at the gardens, similarly high
levels predicted a sense of calm. Nonlinear analyses revealed a convex (U) relationship
between the trait of ?connectedness to nature?, and experiencing an environment as
calming, as well as a concave (inverted U) relationship with experiencing an environment
as disturbing. The need to broaden experiential research content and ground research
methods is discussed.
Gatersleben B, 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, Huguenin RD (eds.), Traffic and Transport Psychology: Theory and Applications pp. 469-479 Elsevier
Gatersleben BCM (2007) Affective and symbolic aspects of car use: a review, In: Garling T, Steg L (eds.), Threats to the Quality of Urban Life from Car Traffic: Problems, Causes, and Solutions pp. 219-234
Gatersleben B, Clark C, Reeve A, Uzzell D (2007) The impact of a new transport link on residential communities, Journal of Environmental Psychology 27 (2) pp. 145-153
This paper examines the expected and perceived impacts of a new underground line by local residents in five areas in London. Data were collected both before opening of the new underground line and 2 years after opening. The new line aimed to improve travel opportunities for local residents and regenerate the areas, which were relatively isolated from other areas in London due to the River Thames. As expected the study found that perceptions of the River Thames as a physical barrier (transport connections) improved in the 2-year period after opening of the underground line. The extent to which this improved transport link was perceived to be positive for the area, however, varied between respondents depending on their views of the area in which they lived and their perceptions of the River Thames as a social boundary ('us' versus 'them' beliefs). Those who were more positive about the character of their area were more positive about the impact of the underground line. However, those who perceived stronger social boundaries were less positive about the impact of the line for their area. (c) 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Murtagh N, Gatersleben B, Uzzell D (2010) Identity threat and resistance to change transport-related behaviour, BPS Social Psychology Section
Objectives: Theoretical linkage has been made between identity and transport-related behaviour but
the extensive implications have yet to be explored empirically. The current research programme aims
to provide evidence for the influence of identity on personal transportation, specifically how identity
threats may affect the intention to resist or to engage with change to travel behaviour. As part of the
larger research programme, this study focuses on resistance to change. Drawing on Identity Process
Theory, it hypothesises that identity threat is related to resistance to change travel behaviour, over
and above psychological reactance.

Design: In order to evoke threat while complying with ethical guidelines, participants were asked to
rate their intention to change their travel behaviour in response to 12 vignettes. Each vignette
presented a short description of a travel-related situation. Half of the vignettes were designed to
invoke identity threat and half were designed as neutral.

Method: The study was administered nationally to 300 urban working parents. Baseline measures
included intention to change travel behaviour, trait reactance, affect, salience and centrality of
identities. Analyses tested for significant differences between neutral and threat-inducing vignettes
and between threat-inducing vignettes that tap or do not tap reactance. In addition, intention to
change was regressed onto identity salience, identity centrality and trait reactance.

Results: Pilot data and initial results from the full study data are presented.

Conclusions: Recommendations are suggested, based on Identity Process Theory, for reducing
resistance to change travel behaviour.

Murtagh N, Gatersleben B, Uzzell D (2014) 20660620 - Differences in Energy Behaviour and Conservation between and within Households with Electricity Monitors, PLoS One 9 (3) Public Library of Science
The introduction of electricity monitors (in-home displays; IHDs), which show accurate and up-to-the-minute energy usage,
is expected to lead to reduction in consumption. Studies of feedback on domestic electricity use have generally supported
this view. However, such studies also demonstrate wide variation between households. Examining the heterogeneity of
responses is essential for understanding the actual and potential effectiveness of IHDs and in order to target interventions
effectively. To explore differences between households? responses to IHDs, we conducted a qualitative study with 21
households who had an IHD for more than six months. Of the 21, only four households continued to refer to the IHD and
the findings suggest that attempts to reduce energy consumption were situated in wider social and physical contexts.
Further, the participants demonstrated energy saving behaviour before and outside of IHD usage. The patterns of energy
behaviours and attempts at electricity conservation could best be understood by categorising the households into three
types: the Monitor Enthusiasts (20%), the Aspiring Energy Savers (60%) and the Energy Non-Engaged (20%). The factors of
importance in energy behaviour differed between the categories. Financial savings contributed to efforts to reduce energy
use but only up to boundaries which varied considerably between households. Social practices and social relationships
appeared to constrain what actions households were prepared to undertake, illuminating aspects of inter-household
variation. Within the household, all energy users were not equal and we found that women were particularly influential on
energy use through their primary responsibility for domestic labour on behalf of the household. The implications of the
findings for environmental campaigning are discussed.

The research was funded by the Digital Economy Programme of the Research Councils UK, a cross-council initiative led by EPSRC (www.epsrc.ac.uk)
and contributed to by AHRC, ESRC and MRC, under the REDUCE project grant (no EP/I000232/1). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish or preparation of the manuscript.

Gatersleben B, Uzzell D (2007) Affective appraisals of the daily commute - Comparing perceptions of drivers, cyclists, walkers, and users of public transport, Environment and Behavior 39 (3) pp. 416-431
To date, most research on travel behavior has been limited to studying utilitarian appraisals of car users and users of public transport. Studies on affective experiences are usually limited to commuter stress. A survey among university employees revealed that in support of previous research, car commuters find their journey more stressful than other mode users. The main sources of this stress are delays and other road users. Users of public transport also "complain" about delays; however, this results in stress as well as boredom. Walking and cycling journeys are the most relaxing and exciting and therefore seem the most optimum form of travel from an affective perspective. The affective appraisals of the daily commute are related to instrumental aspects, such as journey time, but also to general attitudes toward various travel modes. These findings have implications for sustainable transport policy initiatives that aim to persuade people to abandon their car.
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
The global deployment of technology to aid mitigation of climate change has great potential but the realisation of much of this potential depends on behavioural response. A culturally pervasive reliance on and belief in technology raises the risk that dependence on technology will hamper human actions of mitigation. Theory suggests that ?green? behaviour may be undermined by automated technology but empirical investigation has been lacking. We examined the effect of the prospect of automation on three everyday behaviours with environmental impact. Based on evidence from observational and experimental studies, we demonstrated that the prospect of automation can undermine even simple actions for sustainability. Further, we examined the process by which automated technology influences behaviour and suggest that automation may impair personal responsibility for action.
Ratcliffe Eleanor, Gatersleben Birgitta, Sowden Paul T. (2016) Associations with bird sounds: How do they relate to perceived restorative potential?, Journal of Environmental Psychology 47 pp. 136-144 Elsevier
Bird sounds are related to perceptions of attention restoration and stress recovery, but the role of associations in such perceptions is understudied. 174 adult residents of the United Kingdom rated 50 bird sounds on perceived restorative potential (PRP) and provided qualitative data on associations with each sound. Bird sounds were associated with imagined environments, birds and other animals, time and season, and activities within the environment. Bird sounds rated as high in PRP were associated with green spaces, spring and summer, daytime, and active behaviours in the environment. Low-PRP bird sounds were associated with exotic and marine environments, nonavian animals, and showed a non-significant trend towards associations with negative bird behaviour. These findings highlight connections between semantic values and restorative perceptions of natural stimuli. Such connections can inform top-down approaches to study of restorative environments and may benefit conservationists seeking to improve bonds between people and wildlife.
Griffin I, Gatersleben BCM (2016) Environmental Stress, In: Fleury-Bahi G, Pol E, Navarro O (eds.), Handbook of Environmental Psychology and Quality of Life Research 24 pp. 469-485 Springer International Switzerland 2017
The physical environment affects people in many ways, how they feel, what they think and how they act. When the demands of the physical environment outweigh an individual?s ability to deal with those demands, stress occurs. Environmental stress refers to a negative subjective psychological response to an environmental stimulus. It is important to note that an environmental stimulus that is stressful for one person in a particular situation may not be stressful for another or for the same person in a different situation. As such, environmental stress is an interaction between an individual and an external stimulus.
This chapter gives an overview of theories and research on environmental stress in environmental psychology. After providing a definition of environmental stress, the chapter discusses the conditions under which stress may occur and then goes on to describe in more detail different environmental stressors that have been examined in the literature.
Environmental stress has been studied in many different indoor, outdoor and virtual settings, including work and residential environments. It has been studied in laboratory studies as well as in the field and has been an important area of research for many decades which continues to this day.
Gatersleben BCM, Uzzell D (2003) Local transport problems and possible solutions. Comparing perceptions of residents, councillors, officers and organisations, Local Environment 8 (4) pp. 387-406
Gatersleben B, White EV, Abrahamse W, Jackson T, Uzzell D (2010) Values and sustainable lifestyles, In: Roaf S (eds.), Transforming Markets in the Built Environment pp. 37-50 Earthscan / James & James
With ever-increasing concerns about the consequences of climate change, households are an important focus for change. There is increasing pressure on households to change lifestyles and adopt behaviours that require less energy and natural resources. At the same time, retailers and producers of consumer goods aim to persuade people to consume more through commercial advertisements. Social science research examining sustainable behaviours often fails to examine the relative influence of both environmental concern and materialism simultaneously. Moreover, most of this research focuses on explaining or promoting behaviours with pro-environmental intent, thereby ignoring many consumer behaviours that may have a significant environmental impact. This article aims to address some of these shortcomings by examining the relationships between materialistic and environmental values and different consumer behaviours. Survey data from 194 individuals from 99 households were analysed. The findings show that quite a number of people express both relatively high levels of environmental concern and relatively high levels of materialism simultaneously. Moreover, materialism and environmental concern appear to be related to different types of behaviours. This raises important questions for the promotion of sustainable lifestyles, which may need to address not only environmental concerns but also materialistic concerns.
Gatersleben B, Andrews M (2013) When walking in nature is not restorative - the role of prospect and refuge, Health and Place 20 pp. 91-101 Elsevier
People tend to recover more quickly from stress and mental fatigue in natural than in urban environments. But natural environments may not always be restorative. Dense wooded areas may evoke fear and stress and require directed attention to avoid getting lost or tripping over. Little is known about the restorative potential of such environments. Two experiments were conducted to examine restoration in natural settings with different levels of accessibility, prospect (clear field of vision) and refuge (places to hide). An on-line survey (n=269) examined perceived restoration of environments presented in a slide show. An experiment examined actual restoration in response to walks in a real outdoor setting (n=17) and in response to videos of the same walks (in a laboratory; n=17). The findings demonstrate that exposure to natural environments with high levels of prospect and low levels of refuge, is indeed restorative. However, exposure to natural environments low in prospect and high in refuge is not, and may even further increase levels of stress and attention fatigue. These findings demonstrate that natural places may not always be restorative places.
Gatersleben B (2004) Psychological theories for environmental issues, Environmental Values 13 (4) pp. 547-550
Murtagh N, Gatersleben Birgitta, Uzzell David (2012) Self-identity Threat and Resistance to Change: Evidence from Regular Travel Behaviour, Journal of Environmental Psychology 32 (4) pp. 318-326 Elsevier
Despite widespread acceptance of the need to change individual behaviour towards sustainability, resistance to change remains a continuing challenge. Past behaviour or habit, and psychological reactance, have been explored as components of resistance. Growing evidence for the influence of self-identity on behaviour suggests self-identity as a further factor. The current study draws on Identity Process Theory (Breakwell, 1986) to propose that threat to self-identity contributes to resistance to change, over and above the influence of past behaviour. Using travel-related vignettes to trigger threat, a study with 295 working parents in England found evidence supporting the relationship between self-identity threat and resistance to change travel behaviour, controlling for past behaviour. The findings further suggest identity threat as an alternative theoretical perspective on reactance. The results build theoretical understanding of resistance as a barrier to behaviour change. The application of an identity theory to understanding resistance is argued to add potentially new ways to encourage change towards sustainable behaviour. In addition, the findings suggest rich avenues for future research on the theoretical and empirical implications of the relationship of identities and sustainable behaviours.
Gatersleben BCM, Steg L, Vlek C (2002) The measurement and determinants of environmentally significant consumer behaviour, Environment and Behavior 34 (4) pp. 335-362
Andrews M, Gatersleben BCM (2010) Variations in perceptions of danger, fear and preference in a simulated natural environment, Journal of Environmental Psychology 30 (4) pp. 473-481 Elsevier
Although natural environments can help promote health, they also contain a number of dangers. This study attempted to examine how variations in the physical structure of a simulated natural environment influenced perceptions of both overall and specific types of danger, fear and preference before exploring the relationships between these variables. Three simulated walks through a natural environment differing in levels of prospect-refuge were created for the study. Respondents were randomly assigned to one of the conditions and asked to imagine taking the walk for real. In support of the typology, the results found that the walks with higher levels of prospect-refuge (higher visibility, fewer hiding places and more accessibility) were perceived as less dangerous and fearful and more preferred than walks with lower levels of prospect-refuge. However despite levels of prospect-refuge appearing to impact on the perceived likelihood of encountering a physical danger or becoming lost, they were not found to impact on the perception of encountering a social danger.
Murtagh N, Gatersleben BCM, Uzzell D (2014) A qualitative study of perspectives on household and societal impacts of demand response, Technology Analysis & Strategic Management 26 (10) pp. 1131-1143 Taylor & Francis
Despite the importance of demand response, there has been little exploration of its potential impact on the individual or society. To address this gap, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 21 households in the south of England, in which two demand response vignettes were presented: peak pricing and remote demand control during critical peaks. Peak pricing was seen as inequitable, burdening the less affluent, the less healthy, families and working mothers. Adverse societal outcomes may result from peak pricing, with potential for disruption of time-dependent household routines including the socially vital ritual of family mealtimes. Householders perceived their peak-time consumption to be determined by society?s temporal patterns and not within their control to change. Third-party control in demand side management was perceived to contravene householders? rights of control inside their homes. Alternative approaches to shifting peak demand, which combine technological, economic and socio-psychological insights, are considered.
Anable J, Gatersleben B (2005) All work and no play? The role of instrumental and affective factors in work and leisure journeys by different travel modes, Transportation Research Part a-Policy and Practice 39 (2-3) pp. 163-181
This paper examines the relative importance that people attach to various instrumental and affective journey attributes when travelling either for work or for a leisure day trip and presents how journeys by various travel modes score on these attributes. Although not a comparative paper, data are presented for two studies which used some identical measurements: one on commuter journeys and one on leisure journeys. The results show that for work journeys, respondents tend to attach more importance to instrumental aspects, and especially to convenience than to affective factors. For leisure journeys, however, respondents appear to attach almost equal importance to instrumental and affective aspects, particularly flexibility, convenience, relaxation, a sense of freedom and 'no stress'. Each study also examines (i) how regular users' evaluate their own mode and (ii) how car users perceive the performance of alternative modes compared to their importance ratings. This 'gap' analysis reveals on which modes and for which attributes the greatest deficiencies in performance lie. The data for both the work and leisure studies shows that for car users, alternative transport modes are inferior on the salient attributes such as convenience and flexibility even though car users rate modes such as walking and cycling as performing well, if not, better, on less important attributes such as the environment, health and even excitement. Nevertheless, for those who cycle and walk regularly, satisfaction with their own travel mode as measured by the gap between importance and performance on salient attributes is better than for those who mostly use the car. Conclusions are made as to how greater attention to affective factors may improve our understanding of mode choice. (C) 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Shaw B, Coyle A, Gatersleben BCM, Ungar S (2014) Exploring nature experiences of people with visual impairments, Psyecology: Bilingual Journal of Environmental Psychology 5 Fundacion Infancia y Aprendizaje
The positive psychological and physical health effects associated with exposure to natural environments are well recognised. However, previous research in this field has focused almost exclusively upon the visual aspects of the environment, largely ignoring the role of the other senses. This paper reassesses these findings by examining the role senses other than sight play in blind people?s experiences of natural environments. Six people with visual impairments were interviewed regarding their experience of natural environments; interview transcripts were analysed using thematic analysis. The analysis revealed that if the participants felt safe, they reported experiencing restorative effects in the majority of natural environments. Three main themes that contribute to an understanding of the processes involved in psychological restoration emerged: restoration, challenges, sources of experiences. Environmental restoration was reported by participants as being mostly experienced through sound and to a lesser extent through touch and smell.
Uzzell D, Muckle R, Jackson T, Ogden J, Barnett J, Gatersleben B, Hegarty P, Papathanasopoulou E (2006) Choice Matters: Alternative Approaches to Encourage Sustainable Consumption and Production, Report to Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Gatersleben B, Appleton KM (2007) Contemplating cycling to work: Attitudes and perceptions in different stages of change, Transportation Research Part a-Policy and Practice 41 (4) pp. 302-312
In 1996 the UK government introduced the National Cycle Strategy which aimed to double the number of cycling trips by the end of 2002 and double them again by 2012. So far, however, these targets have not been met. The House of Commons ascribes this to 'a fundamental lack of commitment to cycling on an individual, regional and national level'. This paper addresses the individual level by examining the views of commuters in different stages of change as distinguished by Prochaska's model [Prochaska, J.O., DiClemente, C.C., 1984. The Transtheoretical Approach: Crossing Traditional Boundaries of Change. Dow Jones/Irwin, Homewood IL]. This model views behaviour change as a process rather than an event. Two studies were conducted amongst university staff and students: a survey study and an action study. The studies showed that as people progress front precontemplation to action their attitudes towards cycling become more positive and their perceptions of various personal and external barriers change. This suggests that different strategies are necessary to move people in different stages of change to action and maintenance. At the moment, it seems that regular cyclists form a very small minority of people who will cycle under most circumstances simply because they like cycling. The majority of people have never contemplated cycling. There is, however, also a group of people who would like to cycle and could be persuaded to cycle under the right circumstances. (c) 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
White E, Uzzell D, Räthzel N, Gatersleben B (2010) Using life histories in psychology: A methodological guide, RESOLVE Woking Paper Series (01-10) pp. 1-18 University of Surrey
Life histories is an extremely rich qualitative methodology which is based on a tradition of
storytelling and oral history which dates back thousands of years. It involves the telling of
memories and experiences from right across the lifespan, from childhood, through key life
events such as marriage and parenthood, to the present day. Its ability to highlight various
attitudes, values, and behaviours, as well as to chart their progress and change across the
lifespan, makes it an extremely valuable tool for the social sciences. This paper examines
some key principles and methodological assumptions of life histories, and suggests some
ways in which these differ from those of the dominant discourse in psychology, in order to
help social scientists to better understand and apply this methodology within their own
research.

The support of the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) is gratefully acknowledged. This work is part of the interdisciplinary research programme of RESOLVE - the ESRC Research Group on Lifestyles, Values and the Environment.

Uzzell D, Gatersleben B, White E (2010) Using life history interviews to examine outdoor experiences and behaviours, IAPS
The life histories methodology is a form of oral history which involves the recording of people?s memories and experiences across their lifespan. A life history interview typically examines the interviewee?s family background, memories and experiences of childhood, school, marriage, parenthood, and retirement (if older participants are recruited), as well as present day activities. In the past it has been used as an effective tool by historians to add personal narratives to the more traditional historical content of important events and dates in time (e.g. Portelli, 1991, 1997). But it is a tool which is also beginning to generate excitement within the social sciences, given the depth of data that it can generate. In particular, the historical context which it provides enables us to understand how and when certain behaviours and attitudes may have originated or changed, in addition to information about current practices and behaviours which more traditional psychological approaches provide. The present study was therefore conducted in order to evaluate the possibilities of using the life histories methodology to examine outdoor behaviours. Specifically, the Outdoors and Health Network identified the need to understand why people use greenspace regularly, in order to find ways in which to increase the use of those who seldom utilise these psychologically and physically beneficial areas (e.g. Maas, Verheeij, Groenewegen, de Vries, & Spreeuwenberg, 2006; Ulrich, 1984). Four women aged between 40-55 years were recruited, each of whom reported to regularly carry out one of the following outdoor activities: 1) Gardening / working on allotment; 2) Walking / hiking in areas of wild or spectacular landscapes; 3) Visiting outdoor sites / gardens; 4) Running or dog walking. A variety of activities were chosen in order to test the effectiveness of the methodology at examining different types of outdoor experiences and life histories. Additionally, a woman of the same age group, who reported to use greenspace infrequently, was selected. Participants then took part in a life history interview which lasted between 1-2 hours. The present paper presents results from the study and discusses experiences and applications of using this methodology. We would suggest that this methodology has potential to add to the existing body of knowledge which examines how people interact with their environment, as well as how these interactions may be formed and changed.
Gatersleben Birgitta, Greenwood A (2016) Let?s go outside! Environmental restoration amongst adolescents and the impact of friends and phones, Journal of Environmental Psychology 48 pp. 131-139 Elsevier
Adolescents are experiencing an increasing number of psychological difficulties due to mental fatigue and stress. Natural environments have been found to be beneficial to psychological wellbeing by reducing stress and improving mood and concentration for most people. However, a number of studies have suggested that this may not be the case for adolescents perhaps because they have different social and emotional needs (to be with friends, not to be bored), although evidence is lacking. In a field experiment with 120 16-18 year olds in the UK we tested restoration of stress and mental fatigue in an outdoor or indoor environment, alone, with a friend or while playing a game on a mobile phone. The findings showed greater restoration amongst adolescents who had been in an outdoor setting containing natural elements, compared with those who had been in an indoor one. Moreover, being with a friend considerably increased positive affect in nature for this age group. The findings indicated that spending short school breaks in a natural environment with a friend can have a significant positive impact on the psychological wellbeing of teenagers.
Gillis K, Gatersleben BCM (2015) A Review of Psychological Literature on the Health and Wellbeing Benefits of Biophilic Design, Buildings 5 (3) pp. 948-963 MDPI AG
Abstract: Biophilic design has received increasing attention as a design philosophy in recent years. This review paper focused on the three Biophilic design categories as proposed by Stephen Kellert and Elizabeth Calabrese in ?The Practice of Biophilic Design?. Psychological, peer reviewed literature supporting the benefits of Biophilic design was searched for through the lens of restorative environments. Results indicate that there exists much evidence supporting certain attributes of Biophilic design (such as the presence of natural elements), while empirical evidence for other attributes (such as the use of natural materials or processes) is lacking. The review concludes with a call for more research on restorative environments and Biophilic design.
Gatersleben B, White E, Abrahamse W, Jackson T, Uzzell D (2010) Values and sustainable lifestyles, Architectural Science Review 53 (1) pp. 37-50 Routledge, Taylor & Francis
With ever-increasing concerns about the consequences of climate change, households are an important focus for change. There is increasing pressure on households to change lifestyles and adopt behaviours that require less energy and natural resources. At the same time, retailers and producers of consumer goods aim to persuade people to consume more through commercial advertisements. Social science research examining sustainable behaviours often fails to examine the relative influence of both environmental concern and materialism simultaneously. Moreover, most of this research focuses on explaining or promoting behaviours with pro-environmental intent, thereby ignoring many consumer behaviours that may have a significant environmental impact. This article aims to address some of these shortcomings by examining the relationships between materialistic and environmental values and different consumer behaviours. Survey data from 194 individuals from 99 households were analysed. The findings show that quite a number of people express both relatively high levels of environmental concern and relatively high levels of materialism simultaneously. Moreover, materialism and environmental concern appear to be related to different types of behaviours. This raises important questions for the promotion of sustainable lifestyles, which may need to address not only environmental concerns but also materialistic concerns.
Gatersleben Birgitta, 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 51 (1) pp. 24-49 Sage Publications
Moral motives are important for pro-environmental behavior. But such behavior is not
only motivated by moral or environmental concerns. We examined what higher-order
motives, other than morality, may be important for understanding pro-environmental
behavior, by studying consumer identities. In three studies (N = 877) four consumer identities
were distinguished: moral, wasteful, frugal, and thrifty. Frugal and moral consumer identities
were most salient and were the strongest predictors of pro-environmental behaviors, but in
different ways. Frugality, which is related to, but distinct from thriftiness, was particularly
important for behaviors associated with waste reduction of any kind (including money). The
findings suggest that people adopt the same behavior for different reasons, in ways consistent
with their consumer identities. People manage multiple consumer identities simultaneously
and environmental policy is likely to be more effective if it addresses these multiple
identities.
Cowen L, Gatersleben B (2017) Testing for the size heuristic in householders' perceptions of energy consumption, Journal of Environmental Psychology 54 pp. 103-115 Elsevier
Few householders have the time or motivation to systematically weigh up all the facts
when judging the energy consumption of their household appliances. It is likely that
they instead rely on simple heuristics such as the size heuristic, which has been reported
in a small number of previous studies. The studies showed that people?s perceptions of
the size and energy consumption of appliances were positively correlated but the studies
differed in their methods and effect sizes. The present study re-tests the use of the size
heuristic using two methods of data collection (between-participants and
within-participants) and three methods of correlation. On average, correlations between
size and energy estimates were moderately strong but they (and the accuracy of the
energy estimates) varied greatly between individual participants. Understanding
householders? perceptions of energy is vital to designing more effective energy-saving
policies. The findings highlight the importance of choosing and clearly reporting
methods.
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 (2) MDPI
Exposure to natural environments has been shown to have beneficial effects on mood. Rumination is a thinking style associated with negative mood, and sometimes depression, and is characterized by repetitive, intrusive thoughts, often with a negative emotional element. This study investigated whether exposure to nature, operationalized using photographs presented as a slideshow, could aid reduction in levels of state rumination. An experimental, within-between (Time x Condition) participant design was used; participants (n = 58) undertook a presentation task designed to induce rumination and influence mood. Participants were then randomly allocated to either: watch a slideshow of a natural environment, watch a slideshow of an urban environment, or wait patiently with no distractions. Data were collected at baseline, after the presentation, and after the slideshow. Environmental exposure had no effect on levels of rumination or negative mood, but did have a significant effect on levels of positive mood, ?being away?, and ?fascination?. Positive mood declined in those who saw the urban slideshow, but remained the same in those who saw the nature slideshow, whilst levels of being away and fascination were highest in those who saw the nature slideshow. This study extends previous restorative environment research by exploring the effects of nature on rumination.
Gatersleben Birgitta, Jackson Tim, Meadows Jesse, Soto Elena, Yang Ying (Lily) (2018) Leisure, materialism, wellbeing and the environment, European Review of Applied Psychology / Revue Européenne de Psychologie Appliquée 68 (3) pp. 131-139 Elsevier

Introduction

There are increasing concerns that people in modern societies spend too much of their leisure time on activities such as shopping and watching television and that this undermines human wellbeing and damages the environment.

Objectives

This paper explores the relationships between materialism, environmental values and life satisfaction on the one hand, and different forms of leisure activities on the other. In particular, it addresses the differences between serious or intrinsically motivating leisure activities and casual or extrinsically motivating activities.

Method

Three survey studies were conducted among 16 to 25 year olds in the UK (n = 338), Spain (n = 417) and China (n = 961).

Results

Reading books was negatively related to materialism and positively to environmental values and behaviours. Playing sports was associated with higher wellbeing. Moreover, materialism was negatively associated with environmental values and behaviour. Life satisfaction was higher among those with stronger environmental values and weaker materialism.

Conclusion

The findings suggest that sustainable lifestyles, characterised by higher wellbeing, higher environmental concern and behaviour and lower materialism can be found in each nation. Moreover, such lifestyles are associated with different kinds of leisure engagement. Examining the potentially positive role of reading books rather than being immersed in screen time deserves further attention.

Morten A, Gatersleben B, Jessop D (2018) Staying grounded? Applying the theory of planned behaviour
to explore motivations to reduce air travel,
Transportation Research Part F 55 pp. 297-305 Elsevier
Air travel has been highlighted as a key environmental behaviour contributing to climate
change. Given this, there is a surprising lack of theory-based research aimed at identifying
factors that underpin motivation to reduce the number of flights taken. This study explored
whether an extended theory of planned behaviour (TPB) model could be usefully applied to
identify significant predictors of intentions to reduce the number of flights taken for leisure,
holidays or to visit family or friends. Results supported the predictive utility of the
TPB; the extended model was able to account for 52% of the variance in intentions over
and above past behaviour and socio-demographic variables. Attitudes, subjective norms
and behaviour-specific self-identity emerged as significant linear predictors. Findings support
the utility of applying the TPB to air travel and suggest key variables which could be
targeted in interventions to promote motivation to reduce the number of flights taken.
Gatersleben B, Griffin I (2016) Environmental Stress, In: Fleury-Bahi G, Pol E, Navarro O (eds.), Handbook of Environmental Psychology and Quality of Life Research 1 pp. 469-485 Springer
The physical environment affects people in many ways, how they feel, what they think and how they act. When the demands of the physical environment outweigh an individual?s ability to deal with those demands, stress occurs. Environmental stress refers to a negative subjective psychological response to an environmental stimulus. It is important to note that an environmental stimulus that is stressful for one person in a particular situation may not be stressful for another or for the same person in a different situation. As such, environmental stress is an interaction between an individual and an external stimulus.
This chapter gives an overview of theories and research on environmental stress in environmental psychology. After providing a definition of environmental stress, the chapter discusses the conditions under which stress may occur and then goes on to describe in more detail different environmental stressors that have been examined in the literature.
Environmental stress has been studied in many different indoor, outdoor and virtual settings, including work and residential environments. It has been studied in the laboratory as well as in the field and has been an important area of research for many decades, which continues to this day.
Murtagh N, Gatersleben Birgitta, Uzzell David (2018) Workplace Energy Use Feedback in Context, In: Wells V, Gregory-Smith D, Manika D (eds.), Research Handbook on Employee Pro-Environmental Behaviour: Part IV Employee environmental behaviour, feedback and technology pp. 349-368 Edward Elgar
Burningham Kate, Venn Susan, Christie Ian, Jackson Timothy, Gatersleben Birgitta (2014) New motherhood: a moment of change in everyday shopping practices, Young Consumers 15 (3) pp. 211-226 Emerald Publishers
Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to draw on data from 16 interviews (two each with eight women) to explore some of the ways in which everyday shopping may change as women become mothers. The meanings, practices and implications of the transition to motherhood have long been a topic for sociological inquiry. Recently, interest has turned to the opportunities offered by this transition for the adoption of more sustainable lifestyles. Becoming a mother is likely to lead to changes in a variety of aspects of everyday life such as travel, leisure, cooking and purchase of consumer goods, all of which have environmental implications. The environmental impacts associated with such changes are complex, and positive moves toward more sustainable activities in one sphere may be offset by less environmentally positive changes elsewhere.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper draws on data from 16 interviews (two each with eight women) to explore some of the ways in which everyday shopping may change as women become mothers.

Findings

This paper focuses on the ways in which modes and meanings of everyday shopping may shift through the transition to mother, and on indicating any potential sustainability implications. The paper explores the adoption of more structured shopping and of shifting the mode of grocery shopping online or offline. The paper draws attention to the way in which practices are embedded and interrelated and argue that more consideration needs to be given to the influence of all household members.

Originality/value

The question here is not whether women purchase different products or consume more once they have a child, but rather how does the everyday activity of shopping for groceries and the meanings it has change with new motherhood and what sustainability implications might this have? In this context, this paper provides a novel addition to research on new mothers and consumption.

Grudgings Nick, Hagen-Zanker Alex, Hughes Susan, Gatersleben Birgitta, Woodall Marc, Bryans Will (2018) Why don't more women cycle? An analysis of female and male commuter cycling mode-share in England and Wales, Journal of Transport and Health 10 pp. 272-283 Elsevier
Women are under-represented in commuter cycling in England and Wales. Consequently, women miss out on the health benefits of active commuting over distances where walking is less practical. Similarly, where cycling could replace motorised forms of transport, society is missing out on the wider health benefits associated with reductions in air pollution, road noise and social severance. This paper uses aggregate (ecological) models to investigate the reasons behind the gender gap in cycling. The relative attractiveness of cycling in different areas is described using a set of 17 determinants of commuter cycling mode share: distance, population density, cycle paths, cycle lanes, traffic density, hilliness, temperature, sun, rain, wind, wealth, lower social status, children, green votes, bicycle performance, traffic risk and parking costs. The correlation between these determinants and census-recorded cycling mode share is examined in logit models for commuters who work 2-5 km from home. The models explain a large share of the variation in cycling levels. There are small but significant differences in the importance of individual determinants between men and women. However, the gender gap is largely explained by a differentiated response to the relative attractiveness of an area for cycling, the sum effect of all determinants. The ratio of male to female cycling rates is greatest in areas that are less attractive for cycling, whereas in the most attractive areas the ratio approaches parity. On average, women require a more conducive environment for cycling than men. Since the typical environment in England and Wales is not conducive for cycling, women are under-represented in commuter cycling rates and miss out on the health dividend. The results suggest improvements to the cycling environment may be moderated by the existing attractiveness of the environment for cycling, with improvements in less attractive areas having a smaller absolute effect on cycling rates.
Ratcliffe Eleanor, Gatersleben Birgitta, Sowden Paul T. (2018) Predicting the perceived restorative potential of bird sounds through acoustics and aesthetics, Environment and Behavior SAGE Publications
Some, but not all, bird sounds are associated with perceptions of restoration from stress and
cognitive fatigue. The perceptual properties that might underpin these differences are understudied.
In this online study, ratings of perceived restorative potential (PRP) and aesthetic properties of 50
bird sounds were provided by 174 residents of the United Kingdom. These were merged with data
on objectively measured acoustic properties of the sounds. Regression analyses demonstrated that
sound level, harmonics, and frequency, and perceptions of complexity, familiarity, and pattern,
were significant predictors of PRP and cognitive and affective appraisals of bird sounds. These
findings shed light on the structural and perceptual properties that may influence restorative
potential of acoustic natural stimuli. Finally, through their potential associations with meaning,
these findings highlight the importance of further study of semantic or meaning-based properties
within the restorative environments literature.
Isham Amy, Gatersleben Birgitta, Jackson Tim (2018) Flow activities as a route to living well with less, Environment and Behavior SAGE Publications
Research suggests that the excessive focus on the acquisition of material goods promoted by our consumer capitalist society may be detrimental to well-being. Current Western lifestyles, which promote unsustainable patterns of production and consumption, therefore risk failing to bring citizens the happiness they are striving for. Csikszentmihalyi (2004) suggested that engaging in challenging, flow-conducive activities is a means by which individuals can improve their well-being without substantially impacting the environment. In this paper we test this proposal by examining data concerning the daily experiences and well-being of 500 US families. We show that individuals who experience stronger characteristics of flow in their leisure activities tend to have greater momentary well-being and that those experiencing flow more frequently tend to report greater retrospective well-being. Moreover, a small negative relationship was found between an activity?s flow score and its environmental impact. The analysis allows us to identify a specific group of activities that are highly conducive to the experience of flow while having a low environmental impact.
Druckman Angela, Gatersleben Birgitta (2018) A time-use approach: high subjective wellbeing, low carbon leisure., Journal of Public Mental Health Emerald

Purpose: This paper addresses the question: which leisure activities are relatively low carbon and conducive to high levels of subjective wellbeing? Underlying this question is the premise that to combat climate change, carbon emissions must be radically reduced. Technological change alone will not be sufficient: lifestyles must also change. Whereas mainstream strategies generally address the challenge of reducing carbon emissions through reviewing consumption, approaching it through the lens of how we use our time, in particular, leisure time, may be a promising complementary avenue.

Design/methodology/approach: The paper brings together three areas of research that are hitherto largely unlinked: subjective wellbeing/happiness studies, studies on how we use our time, and studies on low-carbon lifestyles.

Findings: The paper shows that low carbon leisure activities conducive to high subjective wellbeing include social activities such as spending time in the home with family and friends, and physical activities that involve challenge such as partaking in sports. However, depending how they are done, some such activities may induce high carbon emissions, especially through travel. Therefore appropriate local infrastructure, such as local sports and community centres are required, along with facilities for active travel. Policy-making developed from a time-use perspective would encourage investment to support this.

Originality/value: Win-win opportunities for spending leisure time engaged in activities conducive to high subjective wellbeing in low carbon ways are identified. This is done by bringing three research topics together in a novel way.

Ratcliffe Eleanor, Gatersleben Birgitta, Sowden Paul T. (2013) Bird sounds and their contributions to perceived attention restoration and stress recovery, Journal of Environmental Psychology 36 pp. 221-228 Elsevier
Natural environments, and particularly visual stimuli in nature, are usually perceived as restorative following stress and attention fatigue. Studies extending these findings to auditory natural stimuli have used soundscapes comprising multiple types of sound. Birdsong recurs as a type of sound used in such studies, but little is known about restorative perceptions of bird sounds on their own and how these may relate to existing theories of environmental restoration. Via semi-structured interviews with twenty adult participants, bird songs and calls were found to be the type of natural sound most commonly associated with perceived stress recovery and attention restoration. However, not all bird sounds were regarded as helpful for such processes. Three themes formed the basis of these perceived relationships: affective appraisals, cognitive appraisals, and relationships with nature. Sub-themes of the acoustic, aesthetic, and associative properties of bird sounds were also related to restorative perceptions. Future studies should quantitatively examine the potential of a variety of bird sounds to aid attention restoration and stress recovery, and how these might be predicted by acoustic, aesthetic, and associative properties, in order to better understand how and why sounds such as birdsong might provide restorative benefits.

This work was supported by the Economic and Social Research Council [grant number ES/J500148/1]; the
National Trust; and the Surrey Wildlife Trust.

Additional publications