Acity is a vastly complicated network of human interactions—between individuals, groups, and the physical design of city spaces. Understanding how this network functions, and how urban design influences human health, wellbeing, and happiness can help make better cities. In the Urban Realities Laboratory at the University of Waterloo, our team, lead by Dr. Colin Ellard, specializes in measuring the relationships between human behaviour and urban design using a unique approach: rather than using the traditional methods of experimental psychology, we measure urban behaviour where it actually happens—out on the street.



You don’t need to be a psychologist to know that your surroundings affect how you feel and what you think about. But how exactly do these effects arise? Why does a tranquil urban park make us feel good and how does it change the way that we pay attention to things? How does the dizzying complexity of a major intersection, filled with people, noise, lights, and signs, affect our mood and our stress levels? The upcoming exhibition Psychology on the Street will examine these questions, giving visitors a chance to learn more about the psychological effects of urban environments.


Sheraton Wall Centre


Multiple walks for the duration of Pro Walk/Pro Bike/Pro Place 2016

The Experiment

BMW Guggenheim Lab

Are you headed to Pro Walk/Pro Bike/Pro Place 2016? We’ve got a treat for you! Over the course of the conference, researchers will take small groups of participants on psycho-geographic walks. Using a combination of questionnaires and specialized equipment, researchers will use these walks as an opportunity to collect data that will help to develop a psychological portrait of downtown Toronto. At the conclusion of each walk, the group will get to see the data that was collected and will learn how it might be used to build better cities. This study has been reviewed by and received ethics clearance through a University of Waterloo Research Ethics Committee. However the final decision about participation is yours.