Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Sociology, Social Work, and Anthropology

Department name when degree awarded

Human Environments

Committee Chair(s)

Darrin Brooks


Darrin Brooks


Susan Tibbitts


Julie P. Wheeler


The purpose of this study is to better understand the relationship between the personalization of one’s physical environment and the degree of place identity the person has toward their space, specifically those living in temporary student housing. There have been several studies on peoples’ inherent need to personalize their space. While previous research has identified key factors that help to define place identity in general, this study addresses the fact that not much has been said about how people in temporary housing, specifically student housing, actually go about creating their living spaces.

The key issues this research addressed were the degree of place identity achieved by those living in temporary student housing, the manner in which they went about personalizing their spaces, and the relationship between the two. Also, because this is a study of the primary residence or home of the participants, special attention was given to the concept of home.

Undergraduate students living in student housing on a university campus were recruited to complete a questionnaire and participate in an interview. The purpose of this research technique was to better understand each person’s attitude toward their space and the factors involved in the way they personalized their space. The researcher also conducted a visual analysis of each space to determine the level and type of personalization.

Eight methods (or factors) of personalizing space were compared to the three dimensions of place identity. Significant positive correlations emerged between the place-self congruity dimension of place identity and the personalization of space factors of traditional decoration, decorative complexity, and decoration to create image, therefore showing there is a possible link between gaining a sense of place identity and the level and type of personalization of space displayed in a temporary student housing setting. The study also found that the definition of home is dependent on the context and can have various meaning for the same person.




This work made publicly available electronically on August 8, 2011.