Senior Scientist Mat White (Environmental Psychology)

Mat White is a health and environmental psychologist researching the following areas:

  1. The positive benefits of exposure to natural environments for health and wellbeing.  
  2. Public understanding of anthropogenic and natural environmental hazards.
  3. Pro-environmental attitudes, behaviours and behaviour change. 
  4. Connectedness to nature, wellbeing, and pro-environmentalism.
  5. Aquatic (‘bluespace’) settings and mental health.

Mat is a health and environmental psychologist specialising in Ecological Public Health, in particular the role of urban and natural environments on mental health and health-related behaviours (e.g. physical activity, smoking). He completed his PhD in 2004 at the University of Sheffield and has since worked at the universities of Jena (Germany), Plymouth and Exeter (UK) before moving to Vienna in October 2020 with his long-term collaborator Prof. Sabine Pahl (Chair of Urban and Environmental Psychology). 

Mat has worked on several large-scale international projects (including two EU Horizon 2020s), which has enabled him to learn from experts across a wide-range of disciplines and specialities. He continues to manage two large international survey datasets from earlier projects ‘BlueHealth’ (18 Countries) and ‘SOPHIE’ (Seas Oceans and Public Health in Europe, 15 Countries).

Working in close collaboration with multidisciplinary experts in medicine, health geography, health and environmental economics, and landscape architecture, he employs a range of methods to explore these issues including cross-sectional surveys, longitudinal cohort surveys, naturalistic field experiments, controlled laboratory experiments, RCTs, qualitative in-depth interviews, and systematic reviews.

In 2020 his multi-method, international work on blue spaces and health received both the Delcroix Prize for Oceans and Human Health, and a SHIFT Research award, and he was recognised as a Clarivate Web of Science 'Highly Cited Researcher' for his work between 2009-2019.

As well as continuing this line of work, a key part of his current role at the University of Vienna is to bridge the research being conducted within the CogSciHub and the Urban and Environmental Psychology group.