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Experimenter and mood influences in environmental research

Wilmot, Dennis John; (1995) Experimenter and mood influences in environmental research. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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This thesis investigates the influence of the aesthetic qualities of a room environment on behaviour. The research focussed on varying the level of pleasantness in a room setting and how this variation influenced subjects' mood ratings of photographs of human faces. Experiment 1 investigated the effect of room pleasantness on a range of tasks and failed to replicate a finding by Maslow and Mintz (1956) who had shown that subjects rated photographs of human faces for mood at a higher level in a pleasant as opposed to an unpleasant room. Therefore Experiments 2 and 3 were designed as replications employing methodologies much closer to the original Maslow and Mintz study. Both experiments produced results opposite to those of Maslow and Mintz. In view of the counter-intuitive nature of this result, and the wide acceptance of the Maslow and Mintz finding, theories were developed which might explain the result and these were tested in Experiment 4. This experiment provided data consistent with two of these theories. Attribution theory and Adaptation Level theory. Experiment 5 therefore tested these theories with independent manipulations and found tentative support for the application of Adaptation Level theory. According to this account the photographs are rated more positively in contrast to a background of negative mood from the experimental room. The experiment also provided evidence suggesting that the results may have been influenced by the experimenter. Therefore a test of experimenter influence was carried out in Experiment 6. A combined analysis of the data from both experiments showed a difference here which can be attributed to experimenter influence. The research supports the application of Adaptation Level theory to explain the aesthetic influence of a room on behaviour. However the experimenter can be seen to be involved in the adaptation process both in terms of being influential in the anchoring mechanism, and as a catalyst with a necessary presence when subjects make room affective judgments. A two-fold mechanism is also suggested to describe the application of Adaptation Level theory involving unexpectedness of the room affect and low subsequent levels of conscious attending to the room.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Experimenter and mood influences in environmental research
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by ProQuest.
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10099830
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