Blending neuroscience and behavioural psychology for the National Trust

Case Studies

15th November 2023

Walnut Unlimited

Blending neuroscience and behavioural psychology for the National Trust.

Why do places mean so much to people? The National Trust has always believed that natural and historic places have a powerful effect on all of us, but they wanted to understand why places mean so much to us. What is at the heart of that connection, exactly?

We began with neuroscience: brain scanning using fMRI. A window soon opened into how we respond neurologically to those places that matter. It provided scientific evidence of this deep emotional bond. A tangible, visible, emotional link between a human being and a place that is often difficult to put into words.

We then combined large-scale quantitative research, grounded in behavioral psychology, with in-depth qualitative exploration into this emotional connection. Combined, they gave the National Trust insights into people’s connections to places that were rigorously accurate and emotionally resonant. Our report laid the foundations for their campaign on why places mean so much, and the need to protect these places. The academic paper for this can also be found here…

This research showed more clearly than ever before that places make us who we are – something our founder Octavia Hill instinctively knew. It brings vividly to life the importance of caring for special places for public benefit and validates the relevance of the Trust’s cause now and in the future.

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