The International Journal of Heritage Studies just published my article on “How Are Old Places Different from New Places? A Psychological Investigation of the Correlation between Patina, Spontaneous Fantasies, and Place Attachment.” This is an example of the kind of research that I’m hoping more environmental psychologists will have an interest in exploring. We need more empirical evidence like this to substantiate built heritage conservation practice.
What is ‘age value’? Or conceptualised slightly differently, what is the fundamental difference in the experience and affect of old and new places? In order to answer this question, this study compares historic Charleston, an authentically ‘old’ place and I’On, a ‘new’ place designed on new urbanist principles; both places share essentially the same design but differ in age by over 150 years. A sequential mixed-method approach, consisting of a phenomenology (interviews) followed by a measure of four dimensions of place attachment provided the data for this study; both methods employed photo elicitation techniques. Age value is only associated with patina and spontaneous fantasy in historic Charleston; both of these variables correlate with increased levels of general attachment or dependence. Residents of both neighbourhoods exhibit very high levels of general attachment, dependence and identity, but rootedness is higher in Charleston. Place attachment is correlated with more environmental variables in historic Charleston than it is in I’On. It is important to protect masonry patina because of its association with place attachment. This study lends evidence for why we need to understand the values, perceptions and experiences of civil experts in balance with the objective art/historical values of conventional experts.