Human behaviour outdoors and the environmental factors

Waldron, Julie A. (2018) Human behaviour outdoors and the environmental factors. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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The study of human behaviour outdoors has been an area of interest examined from different perspectives. Even so, the study of human behaviour in outdoor public spaces still requires further input from the perspective of human factors.

This thesis presents a literature review of behaviour in public spaces where the author evaluated the attendance to public squares, the activities performed by users, the time of permanence, the sitting preferences of users and people’s characteristics among other behaviours. Previous studies have reported a relationship between thermal comfort and human behaviour; however, there is a lack of studies approaching the study of human behaviour using observational methods which allows assessing human behaviours such as number of people, number of groups, time of permanence among others, taking into account environmental factors such as: air temperature, globe temperature, mean radiant temperature, relative humidity, wind speed, sun and shadow presence and illuminance.

As part of this research, three studies were conducted in the city centre of Nottingham during summer and autumn of 2015 and winter of 2016 in order to collect data of human behaviour and find its relationship with the air and globe temperature, calculated mean radiant temperature, wind speed, relative humidity and illuminance. These studies were conducted using observational methods by creating a coding scheme after conducting video analysis of social and individual behaviours. A methodology was created to incorporate processes that allow gathering data for observational analysis, which was subsequently processed using multiple regression models and survival analyses.

The overall analysis led to the identification of the main environmental factors influencing human behaviour across different environmental conditions. The studies and analyses conducted showed that various environmental factors work together to influence the decisions of the users of a public space. Accordingly, the models used to predict human behaviour should include the environmental variables that explain better its variability, based on the environmental data of the place. Moreover, this study showed that individual analysis should be performed on a seasonal basis using the environmental and human behaviour data of each season in addition to the analysis performed to the whole data set. The reason for this is that the seasonal data is better at explaining some human behaviours than the model built with the whole data set collected in various seasons. For instance, the relationship between wind speed and number of people is positive during summer and negative during autumn and winter; however, when the three seasons are analysed together, the relationship is negative, which does not explain accurately the phenomena in summer. Conversely, illuminance was found to be an important factor influencing behaviour across the seasons and also contributed to the prediction of behaviour in the all season’s analysis.

Finally, this thesis presents an application of the results by presenting general recommendations of urban design based on the findings of analysing human behaviour in accordance with the thermal environment. The studies conducted during the three seasons presented a cross-internal validation of the multiple regression models. In addition, a final study which consisted of a mock scenario was conducted to perform an external validation of the previous results. A number of conclusions were drawn about the conditions required to perform further external validations, following the parameters identified that may affect the results of the validation.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Lawson, Glyn
Robinson, Darren
Cobb, Sue
Keywords: Human behaviour; Outdoors; Environmental factors
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GF Human ecology. Anthropogeography
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Engineering
Item ID: 52112
Depositing User: Waldron, Julie
Date Deposited: 13 Jul 2018 04:41
Last Modified: 08 May 2020 08:17

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