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Website outline

This website, "", informs about my research program and related issues, including my lecturing, workshops and publications. For each topic, links to the pertinent information pages on this website are provided. Selected texts are made accessible and can be downloaded.

Qualifications and positions

MSc, Dr Phil, Dr Phil Habil.
Until December 2009 Associated Professor at the Department of Psychology, The University of Melbourne.
Casual academic connections:
Adjunct Professor, University of Mannheim/Germany.
Biannually, Visiting Professor at the University of Fribourg/Switzerland.
New enterprize:
Directing "Roman Research Road", the venture for my on-going research.


Email:  mail {at}
Telephone: to be changed (currently send e-mail instead)
Personal contact:
By appointment, to be arranged via e-mail.

Short CV

Study of Psychology (with additions in sociological methodology and linguistics) in Marburg, Hamburg and Mannheim (Germany). 1965 "Diplom" <i.e. Masters>, 1974 PhD (Faculty of Social Science), 1983 "Habilitation", 1989 Adjunct professorship at the University of Mannheim. Until 1991 lecturer and director of a social-scientific consultancy team in Germany. Also visiting lecturer in Austria, Switzerland, Australia and New Zealand. From 1993 until 2009 with the University of Melbourne. Since 2010 operating Roman Research Road. Conducted numerous empirical research projects; strong emphasis on interdisciplinary approaches and applicability of findings. Also work as consultant with governmental agencies, courts and companies; participation in expert hearings.

Research interests

Principal areas are: environmental psychology, applied social psychology, and research methodology. Main substantive topics: linguistic structures of texts, assessment of virtual environments; impacts of environmental factors (e.g., soundscapes and noise); risk perception/communication/management; residential choice and satisfaction; energy saving housing; decision processes and decision-aiding technologies; teaching quality. Methodological interests: response scales, survey methodology, evaluation research, and conceptual frameworks.
Several projects are designed as cross-cultural studies (collaborating with researchers from New Zealand, Germany, Switzerland, Hong Kong and Buenos Aires), in order to enable international comparisons.


Courses at the Dept. of Psychology of Melbourne University (3rd year, masters and doctorate program units) included: Environmental Psychology (info=EPS); Introduction to Applied Psychology (info=IAP); Hazards/Safety/Health (info=HSH); Graduate Research Methodology (info=GRM). These courses have ended.

Contributions to several courses in the Graduate Environmental Program (GEP) of Melbourne University; topics include environmental psychology and social-science risk research. GEP students get access to my lecture EPS.

For my environmental and sociological presentations I developed a special ingredient "Dawn, destiny, death of a city", based on a story by Herman Hesse, to be shown as a picture series or a film; see the HSR page.

Supervision of Honours, Graduate Diploma, Masters, Doctorate and PhD students. New students heading for Masters by Research or a PhD are welcome. There is a list of suitable topics (info=SVTOP). Also taking care of overseas students who do an 8-week 'placement' in Environmental Psychology Lab. All these activities will end in 2010.

Annual course "Risk information & communication" in the Summer Program of the University of Melbourne (info=SPR); run late February.(Note: did not run in recent years though).

Furthermore I lecture in Europe in Psychology or Sociology, including "Umweltpsychologie" (environmental psychology) in Innsbruck/Austria (info=UPI) and "Umweltforschung sozialwissenschaftlich" in Hamburg/Germany, which continues my prior courses in Fribourg/Switzerland and in Mannheim/Germany. A guest lecture "Psychological risk research" at the university of Buenos Aires in Argentina took place in February 2010.

NOTE: Click info codes above to find one-page summaries and lecture details!

Main research projects (1997-2011)

[RPX] Risk perception in 'Western' and 'Eastern' and 'Ibero-american' cultures
<partly with H. Schuetz, Juelich/Germany; H. Chen, Beijing/China; W. Chang, Singapore; P. Suedfeld, Vancouver/Canada; T. Yano, Kumamato/Japan>
Note: Judgments of 24 hazards according to 12 aspects; four types of respondents; data collection in Australia, Germany, China, Singapore, Canada, Japan completed; extension to South America (Brazil, in collaboration with Prof. K. Eichner; Argentina, in collaboration with Prof. M. Mikulic) underway. Selected results published.

[CIR] Cross-cultural differences in InterNet-based relationships
< joint project with Christa Leung, University of Melbourne>
Note: Investigates how relationships are established and continued, comparing Chinese and Australian respondents. Main findings presented in conference contribution.

[EBP] Evaluation of community-based approaches to bushfire preparedness
<joint project with CFA, Country Fire Authority>
Note: Consists of several surveys (quasi-experimental design) plus focus groups; funded by Australian; phase I & II completed; main results published.

[IDP] Improving disaster preparedness through risk communication
<IDNDR (Internat. decade of natural disaster reduction) project>
Note: Conceptual & empirical study of the effectiveness of verbal messages and videos about fire hazards; funded by EMA grant; completed; main results published.

[PIB] The potential of the internet for enhancing residents' bushfire preparedness
<project within the Bushfire CRC>
Note: Running since 2004; combination of lab and field studies; will investigate the utility and utilization of internet-based information sources. (Could not be completed because Melbourne University didn't handle the budget management appropriately).

[AFW] Assessment of "Fire" Websites
<regarding websites of fire authorities>
Note: Six websites (4 Australia, 2 North America) were assessed by 12 experts of different background; focus: utility for residents; main results published; finally, in an expert workshop the utility and potential of internet-based approaches were analyzed.

[ASE] Appraisal of simulated environments
<joint project with I. Bishop, Centre for Geographic Information Systems>
Note: Lab study, testing different versions of a computer-simulation of a walk thru an urban area; data collection & analyses completed. Main results published.

[ASR] Assessment of simulated and real environments
<joint project with I. Bishop, Centre for Geographic Information Systems>
Note: Based on an extension of the computer-simulation used in project ASE; combined field/lab study; data collection completed; publication done. A further extension, related to the Melbourne University environments, is underway within Project VEV; report in preparation.

[VEV] Virtual environments and human perception: experiments in validity
<in collaboration with Prof. I. Bishop (Univ. of Melbourne) & Prof. T. Daniel (University of Arizona/USA)>
Note: Partially funded by University grant; was on hold but did re-commence in 2006; aim: to critically test the 'presentation validity' of computer-based simulation and virtual-reality techniques. Data collection: Melbourne University environment (Study ASM). Now converted into Project VEP.

[VEP] Virtual environment presentations - perception and appraisal
<in collaboration with Dr. Lex Toet & Drs. Joske Houtkamp (University of Utrecht/ Netherlands)>
Note: Based on previous projects ASR/ASM and VEV. Several experiments with simulated environment images are prepared and planned to be conducted in Utrecht; pretests happened late 2009 in Melbourne. The project was meant to continue (2010 & 2011), focussed on special features of virtual environments. However, logistic trouble and retirements made this unfeasible - VEP will be shut down.

[VQS] Verbal qualifiers for rating scales: A cross-cultural study
<to be conducted in Australia, Germany and Hong Kong; in Hong Kong in collaboration with Prof's W. Au and P. Taylor>
Note: Scaling of 100 expressions of frequency, intensity, quality, probability and agreement which are used in questionnaires and surveys; Australian data collected, Hong Kong study mostly conducted. Project report available; presentation of Chinese results got published.

[RAC] Attitudes towards risk-taking: a cross-cultural study
<to be conducted in Australia, Switzerland, Germany and Hong Kong>
Note: Conceptual and empirical analysis of the concepts risk propensity, risk aversion and related constructs; creation of 4 different questionnaires; phase 1 completed. Hong Kong part underway. Project reports available, publication submitted.

[RAP] Risk attitudes of polar researchers
<joint project with P. Suedfeld, UBC, Vancouver/Canada>
Note: Questionnaires prepared; based on instruments from projects RPX and RAC. Pretest done but intended main study in Antarctica could not yet been realized.

[SPP] Soundscapes in public places
<cross-cultural substudies in collaboration with D. Fischer (Germany), R. Guski (Germany), P. Lercher (Austria)>
Note: The aims are: to describe which kinds and levels of sound & noise occur in public places (e.g., music venues, restaurants, shopping venues, gyms); and to investigate the impacts on human interaction and communication. Studies in Australia and cross-cultural extensions (data collection in Germany, Netherlands, Austria) are completed. Early sub-studies published, further publications in prep. Additionally, analytical expert workshops conducted.

NOTE: Until about 2005 most projects were supported by grants received from the Australian Research Council (ARC) or governmental authorities; since then I finance all projects myself.
Click project codes above to find one-page summaries (and partly preliminary results) for these projects!

Environmental Psychology Lab

This lab was run in the Psychology Dept at Melbourne University (info=EPL). The research themes include: How do humans perceive and evaluate built and natural environments? How do they deal with environmental hazards? How can information and communication about environmental risks be improved? In addition, methodological issues are pursued.
Furthermore, the lab had regularly visiting research students from European countries, including Switzerland, Germany, Netherlands and Norway.
The 'EnvPsychLab' has been closed in 2010.


A bi-annual "Multidisciplinary Melbourne Risk Research Roundtable"  ("2M3R") was established in April 1999 (info=2M3R). The last workshop took place in April 2009, dealing with loud music soundscapes as a social risk.

Memberships in research societies

Main memberships: International Association of Applied Psychology (IAAP), The International Emergency Management Society (TIEMS), and Australian Forum for Acoustic Ecology (AFAE). Their annual or biannual congresses are regularly attended, because they provide an excellent context for presenting my research findings.
Note: TIEMS has made me its Honorary member. For first-rate research students, the "TIEMS-Rohrmann Student Scholarship Fund" supports conference contributions.


Contract research and guest-lecturing is available in the following areas: design of surveys; program evaluation methodology; construction of questionnaires regarding hazards/safety/health and environmental issues; designing and assessment of risk information/communication programs; planning and convening of focus groups.

NOTE: See for further information.


Full list with circa 130 entries (articles/books/reports in English or German) is available on request; cf.PubRR for selected publications on risk research, PubEP for publications on environmental psychology plus related topics, and PubSQ for scales, questionnaires and psychometric issues.

NOTE: These list contain texts which can be downloaded.

Personal remark about my situation at Melbourne University in 2008 and 2009

Since 2008, the School of Behavioral Science, represented by the Head of the Psychology Dept, does not support anymore my cross-cultural research (see projects RPX, SPP,VEP, VQS which all include studies in Europe), neither economically nor administratively. I therefore finance these investigations myself and organize them outside my university position -- I am determined to complete the data collections and to utilize them for publications.
Furthermore, last year (2009) the Dept obstructed that research students from Europe stay in my Environmental-Psychology-Lab, for reasons which I see as inappropriate, and harming the agenda and reputation of the lab. Nevertheless, visits of research students, a regular feature since 1995, are still welcome - however, I will realize them elsewhere in Melbourne.

Future enterprize

In 2010, I established "Roman Research Road", a non-profit venture for continuing selected research projects, focussing on environmental issues and cross-cultural methodology; the location is Melbourne. All investigations are directed by me.

Non-academic activities

In case you are curious regarding my various other activities, photo galleries and personal links, you may click NonAA for'non-academic' endeavours ... I even 'ironicle' there how I try to cope with academia ...

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