Scientific journal

New Psychological Research

Baranova V.A. A place for a teenager: the needs of a teenager and the urban environment

Victoria A. Baranova, PhD (Psychology), Associate Professor, Lomonosov Moscow State University, Moscow, Russia; bld. 11–9, Mokhovaya st., Moscow, Russia, 125009;

The report at the conference “New challenges of the digital society: an interdisciplinary approach” in the section “Digital society – risks of social psychology” presented the results of a study of the environmental needs of a teenager.

The environment of a modern metropolis today is developing not only in accordance with the functional planning ideas of architects, but also in connection with the system of people's needs, which is noted not only by psychologists, but also by architects, builders and designers themselves.

A psychological understanding of spatial behavior concerns the specifics of the properties of physical space: what promotes or hinders activity, communication, can be associated with certain reactions, experiences, behavior (Savina, Baranova, 2020), а teenager, for whom the online environment is absolutely organic, lives in a real spatial-physical environment.

The environment “is organically included in human life and serves as an important factor in regulating his behavior” (Andreeva, 2005, p. 206). In this study, the psychological perspective involves identifying comfortable public spaces for adolescents whose life activities take place in a metropolis. It is important to clarify that adolescence is a “special” age in psychological science, saturated with physiological and psychological neoplasms (Developmental Psychology, 2001).

The purpose of the report is to present the results of a study of the environmental needs of adolescents – residents of a metropolis (Moscow).

In the fall of 2023, for the purposes of this study, as part of the Open City festival – a project of the Moscow Committee for Architecture on the topic of “Reformation of Social Institutions”, focus groups were held with adolescents from middle (12–13 years old, N = 7) and high school (15–17 years old, N = 7) together with the MAParchitects architectural bureau. The content of the focus groups (topic guide, procedures) was created on the basis of a preliminary survey of adolescents from Moscow schools (N ~ 200) about their attitudes towards urban space, its functionality, and the possibilities of satisfying the needs of adolescents. During focus groups, teenagers drew their favorite places in the city, made a rating of public spaces designed by architects, presented in color images (A-4), and explained their drawings and choices. The analysis of the drawings and accompanying explanations allowed us to identify and clarify the needs of teenagers and categorize “places for teenagers” in the metropolis.

Older teenagers demonstrate the need for activity (they choose areas for physical activity, sports grounds), for knowledge and development (they give preference to areas with unusual views and objects of a complex visual environment). The need for solitude and privacy is clearly manifested (private zones are chosen even in the case of a large company). The need for communication remains significant (they are attracted by spaces where you can gather with a company and spend an evening, watch a movie, listen to music, participate in a thematic master class). The need of teenagers to appropriate space is revealed, which is manifested in the reconstruction of space for “themselves”. Younger teenagers clearly show a need for communication – they are attracted to spaces where they can gather with friends, chat with friends, take a walk, get some fresh air, and a need for safety – they note and comment on dangerous places and objects. The need for knowledge and development is expressed through the choice of places with beautiful and unusual views (embankments, bridges). Teenagers value the creative and aesthetic components of spatial and physical objects – they need to admire nature, beautiful views, and the functional characteristics are also important to them, due to which they will not get bored (different “climbing frames”, seating areas, different observation points, etc.). The need for privacy and the need to appropriate space (reconstruct space for “oneself”) are clearly observed. 

Based on the results of the study, we can conclude that the urban environment of the metropolis, in general, provides teenagers with opportunities to satisfy their needs – there are many spaces that meet their needs. However, teenagers have needs that require restructuring, changing space, which may indicate the needs of the teenager for development and creativity, but, most importantly, for the appropriation of space, which is an important characteristic of the process of forming environmental identity.


Key words: teenagers, metropolis, urban space, architectural space, teenager needs, environmental identity


For citation: Baranova, V.A. (2024). A place for a teenager: the needs of a teenager and the urban environment. New Psychological Research, No. 2, 217–221. DOI: 10.51217/npsyresearch_2024_04_02_13


Keywords: teenagers metropolis urban space architectural space teenager needs environmental identity

Received: 18th june 2024

Published: 18th june 2024

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