Research and Publications

The Urban Psyche Assessment

The Urban Psyche Assessment The Urban Psyche Assessment is conceived as a form of psychological and wellbeing analysis ...

The Urban Psyche Assessment

The Urban Psyche Assessment is conceived as a form of psychological and wellbeing analysis of the city, bringing tools from psychology, urbanism and mental health practice to bear on the challenges and reveal the opportunities facing places.

It is based on the research by Charles Landry and Chris Murray into a ‘toolkit for psychological resilience of places’. It can help in determining the psychological state of the city, its citizens, social and physical structures and institutions.

This is important because an assessment of the mood and atmosphere of a city can be a key determinant of its success, but these are notoriously hard to measure. They key components of an assessment could include the following:

• A bespoke multi-disciplinary team, based on the specific nature of the city and its issues.

• Innovative online tests and surveys e.g. The City Personality Test (available on this website) already trialled in 11 cities internationally with highly successful results.

• Interviews with key parties, as suggested by the city; the team will also make suggestions based on their initial analysis of the city and its challenges.

• Collective workshops, drawn from a cross section of the city, and not just the ‘usual suspects’.

• Data analysis, e.g. of physical and mental health data, broken down demographically, geographically and across a timeline for the city.

• An analysis of the life history and life events of the city that have shaped it, may be contributing to its current condition, and may provide a platform or barriers to its future success.

• The above can be balanced with other revealing, interesting and creative techniques like psychogeography, using art literature and history to reveal underlying, new and innovative narratives of a city that can have great relevance to future visioning.

City Living

Urban Wellbeing and Perception Impact Studies

A further iteration of the Urban Psyche Assessment is to develop an interdisciplinary toolkit for measuring the impacts of strategic programmes on individual and community wellbeing. Analysis using these tools could take place before, during and after, for example for a major programme like Capital of Culture, regeneration scheme, cultural or economic growth strategy.

These tools could be applied to the whole of a city as well as neighbourhoods, and cross referenced with other existing data including demographic, economic and health data, to give a full picture of the wellbeing impacts of programmes in a way that is currently not well measured, if at all, looking at the following issues.

1. Identity and perception, for example, how people view: different communities and ethnic groups; experience of the built environment; agencies like the police or local authorities; relative resources; and community cohesion and how these things shift over time.

2. Emotional and mental wellbeing, for example, using work developed by the ‘Peace Psychologists’, who work in disputed territories around the world with simple tests which explore levels of: feeling secure; a sense of belonging; self-esteem and respect; cultural identity and expression; an ability to participate, be heard and have influence; and a sense of fairness – going deeper than ‘happiness surveys’.

3. Pro-social behaviour (linked to the What Works Centre for Wellbeing and the work of psychologists like Rhiannon Corcoran) to understand what will help people behave in an agreeable manner, display empathy, trust and generosity; the foundations of community cohesion.

We are actively exploring how an Urban Psyche Assessment might work and looking for partner cities to undertake these: use the contact section of this website to get in touch.


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