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, 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. 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) 'Human Factors' (MSc and MEng) and the 'Laboratory Project' (4th yr BEng) for which she runs a Soundscape study. 

She currently supervisers three PhD students at Heriot-Watt University; Debbie McCracken who is researching the benefit of nearby urban green space for primary school children; Nathalie Reguis who is examining micro-restorative opportunites for healthcare professionals at work; 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.

She is convenor of the Restorative Environments Network and Sensory Environments Network which are part of the International Association for People-Environment Studies.

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

Fingerprint Fingerprint is based on mining the text of the person's scientific documents to create an index of weighted terms, which defines the key subjects of each individual researcher.

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

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

Research Output 2003 2017

The ‘New Dementia’: Widening Choices for our Future Support

Wilkinson, H., Taylor, L., Marshall, M., Christie, J., Nioi, A., Hamilton-Pryde, A. M., Payne, S. R., Hare, P., McKillop, J., Houston, A., Ramsay, A., Noone, A. & Ramsay, F. Sep 2017 Scottish Universities Insight Institute. 29 p.

Research output: Book/ReportOther report

Open Access

Using a bespoke situated digital kiosk to encourage user participation in healthcare environment design

Mackrill, J. B., Marshall, P., Payne, S. R., Dimitrokali, E. & Cain, R. Mar 2017 In : Applied Ergonomics. 59, Part A, p. 342–356 15 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
Digital devices

Analyse des environnements olfactifs et auditifs des villes anglaises: expectation sensorielle et perception de l’environnement urbain

Bruce, N., Condie, J., Henshaw, V. & Payne, S. R. 31 Jul 2015 In : Ambiances. 12 p., 560

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access

Are urban park soundscapes restorative or annoying?

Payne, S. R., Nordh, H. & Hassan, R. Jun 2015

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper

virtual reality

Developing interior design briefs for healthcare and wellbeing centres through public participation

Payne, S. R., Mackrill, J., Cain, R., Strelitz, J. & Gate, L. 2015 In : Architectural Engineering and Design Management. 11, 4, p. 264-279

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access


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 2014

  • 9 Participation in conference
  • 1 Other

28th International Congress of Applied Psychology

Payne, S. R. (Speaker)

Activity: Participation in conference

42nd International Congress and Exposition on Noise Control Engineering

Payne, S. R. (Invited speaker)
Sep 2013

Activity: Participation in conference

4th World Conference on Design Research

Payne, S. R. (Speaker)
Oct 2011

Activity: Participation in conference

40th International Congress and Exposition on Noise Control Engineering

Payne, S. R. (Invited speaker)
Sep 2011

Activity: Participation in conference