Perception studies


Attractiveness and perception play an important role in users' opinions of a space, service or product. Perception seems to be a 'soft' concept, but it is definitely measurable with perception research and it leads to action perspectives. Perception research is applied in the design of trains, stations, bicycle routes, hubs, but also in monitoring policy. Users' opinions on cycling opportunities, for instance, are just as important an indicator of the success of policy as the number of kilometres of cycle path.

Perception research for policy making and evaluation

By measuring users' perceptions, we gain insight into the bottlenecks and how these differ for different groups of users. The results offer advice for the improvement of the perception value. Perception research is carried out using questionnaires that make various aspects of perception measurable in 'the moment of truth'. In other words, at the moment that people experience a specific space, for example. This approach leads to statistical results and thus to comparability of different locations, products and services, but also to comparability of different moments in time. This makes perception research an instrument that can be used for both policy-making (what should we focus on?) and policy evaluation (what is the effect?).

The theory behind perception

Perception research is based on a theoretical framework that distinguishes between dissatisfiers and satisfiers. A dissatisfier leads to a negative judgement if things are not right, but does not lead to an extra positive judgement if things are right (e.g. hygiene). It is an aspect of the environment or journey that the traveller may expect to be in good order.

A satisfier is an aspect with which extra satisfaction of the traveller can be achieved: it does not have to be there, but if it is there, it results in an extra positive judgement. For example, the use of colour and music in a waiting room or a bicycle route with natural greenery. The influence of satisfiers is considerable: they determine 50 to 60% of the total judgement of visitors and travellers.

The customer needs pyramid helps to distinguish between the quality aspects of an environment, where each aspect consists of a unique set of needs and wishes of customers or users. According to the pyramid, these needs and desires follow a hierarchical order. A fundamental principle is that the needs of one layer must be satisfied before results can be achieved at a subsequent layer.

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Focus on perception yields more, but costs less 

With the results of perception research, we offer our clients concrete tools. Perception research...

  • provides decision-making and management information to municipal officials with concrete measures for improving perception;
  • provides insight into investments that are more profitable than investments in dissatisfiers;
  • serves as a communication and participation tool for environment managers in their work.


Some themes on which Goudappel carries out perception research:  

  • Perception in public space and city centres;
  • Bicycle perception 
  • Perception in public transport (travel and station experience);
  • Nuisance perception (for construction and maintenance projects).

Getting started

This is the ideal time for organisations to take perception seriously when it comes to policy-making. In the transition we are currently undergoing, mobility behaviour must change and this calls for a different approach with a greater focus on user perception. Get to work! We will be happy to help you on your way.

Some of our perception research projects

More projects

Find out more?

We are happy to tell you about the potential of perception studies for your mobility issues.

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