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Personal profile

Research interests

As an Environmental Psychologist Sarah is interested in people's cognitive and emotional responses to/from their interaction with the environment, be that natural, urban or healthcare specific environments.  Sarah has expertise in studying people's multi-sensorial perception of the environment, as well as physical and social affordances. Her research has involved urban parks, skate parks, hospitals, electric vehicles, soundscapes, restorative environments and experiences. Broader interests include creating sustainable liveable cities, fatigue in the workplace, energy attitudes and behaviours, fear of crime and how the environment can enhance or decrease this emotive response, as well as methodological and measurement considerations in people-environment research.


Sarah Payne became Assistant Professor of Health in the Built Environment at Heriot-Watt University in 2014, and then Associate Professor in 2018. She completed a BSc in Psychology at the University of Sheffield, MSc in Environmental Psychology at the University of Surrey, and a PhD in Architecture at the University of Manchester.  During her PhD and subsequent Post-Doctoral Research Fellow position at McGill University, Canada, she researched the role of cafe and urban park soundscapes on individual's psychological restoration. She also worked as a Research Assistant at Salford University, to develop a report for Defra on the soundscape concept and its practical and policy applications. Sarah Payne was a Research Fellow on the Participation in Healthcare Environment Engineering programme at the University of Warwick.

Roles & Responsibilities

Sarah is the course leader for 'Urban Design for Health and Wellbeing' (MSc and 4th yr BSc), 'Environment and Behaviour' (2nd yr BEng and BSc), and the 'Laboratory Project' (4th yr BEng) for which she runs a Soundscape study. She previously ran 'Human Factors' (MSc and MEng) and helped with 'Environmental Design' (MSc)

She currently supervisers five PhD students at Heriot-Watt University; Lisa Lavia who is interested in stakeholder engagement activities relating to soundscape planning and management; Mina Sufineyestani who is exploring the role of nature in the immediate environments for residential wellbeing; Debbie McCracken who is researching the benefit of nearby urban green space for primary school children; Stacey Marko who is reseraching childrens play environments in rural and urban areas; and Yi Jin who is interested in the role of humidity on older people's wellbeing in care homes.

Previously Sarah supervised Dr Sneha Singh at the University of Warwick to the completion of her PhD, and Dr Caroline Wilson, in the final year of her PhD at DeMontfort University.

In 2018 she became a board member and treasurer for the International Association for People-Environment Studies (IAPS). Previously she was convenor of the Restorative Environments Network (2012-2018) and the Sensory Environments Network (2016-2018) which are part of the IAPS.

Sarah is a Chartered Psychologist and member of the British Psychological Society and a Fellow of the Higher Education Authority.

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics where Sarah R. Payne is active. These topic labels come from the works of this person. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Electric vehicles Engineering & Materials Science
Acoustic waves Engineering & Materials Science
Virtual reality Engineering & Materials Science
electric vehicle Social Sciences
Motorcycles Engineering & Materials Science
motorcycle Social Sciences
Railroad cars Engineering & Materials Science
experience Social Sciences

Co Author Network Recent external collaboration on country level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots.

Research Output 2003 2019

DeStress: Soundscapes, quiet areas and restorative environments

Payne, S. R. & Bruce, N., 13 May 2019, Proceedings of the Institute of Acoustics 2019. Institute of Acoustics, p. 39-46 8 p.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

Editorial: Soundscape Assessment

Axelsson, Ö., Guastavino, C. & Payne, S. R., 8 Nov 2019, In : Frontiers in Psychology. 10, 2514.

Research output: Contribution to journalEditorial

Open Access
Open Access
Insurance Benefits
Environmental Health

Restorative Soundscapes

Payne, S. R., 2019.

Research output: Contribution to conferenceOther

Open Access

Riding the emotional roller-coaster: Using the circumplex model of affect to model motorcycle riders’ emotional state-changes at intersections

Samuel, O., Walker, G., Salmon, P., Filtness, A., Stevens, N., Mulvihill, C., Payne, S. & Stanton, N., Oct 2019, In : Transportation Research Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour. 66, p. 139-150 12 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle



Best Student Paper/Young Presenter Award for Noise

Sarah R Payne (Recipient), Jul 2008

Prize: Prize (including medals and awards)


IAPS Young Researchers Best Paper Award

Sarah R Payne (Recipient), Aug 2008

Prize: Prize (including medals and awards)

I-INCE Young Professional Award

Sarah R Payne (Recipient), Sep 2013

Prize: Prize (including medals and awards)


Activities 2008 2019

Urban Sound Symposium

Sarah R. Payne (Keynote/plenary speaker)
Apr 2019

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in conference

Edinburgh International Science Festival

Sarah R. Payne (Participant)
13 Apr 2019

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in Festival or Exhibition

Acoustics 2019

Sarah R. Payne (Speaker)
13 May 201914 May 2019

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in conference

EuroCities Working Group Noise

Sarah R. Payne (Invited speaker)
Mar 2019

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in workshop, seminar, course

Soundscape in Practice: Overcoming traditional acoustic challenges to urban planning and development

Sarah R. Payne (Invited speaker)
25 Jun 2019

Activity: Talk or presentationInvited talk