Types of Setting: Psychological


Last week, I shared a book review of Anna Mocikat’s Behind Blue Eyes. If you’re a fan of Cyberpunk stories, head over to the book review and add it to your To Be Read pile. In the last writing post, you learned about social setting details and how to use them in your story. Notice the overlap between social and psychological setting and learn how to distinguish the two. (Also, today I’m trying a different format with this post, please let me know if you like it or not.)

What is psychological setting?

Psychological setting is the way a physical setting can reflect a character’s thoughts and feelings. Sometimes, an external setting can reveal a character’s psychological state.

This is like the concept of psychological sets, which are cognitive predispositions, expectations, or mindsets that individuals adopt when approaching a problem, task, or situation.

When we think about psychological setting, we are essentially considering how a setting affects the people in it. Some settings can inspire wonder, such as the pyramids of Egypt. Others can evoke sadness, such as the Pearl Harbor Memorial in Hawaii. And still others can provide a sense of relaxation, such as a favorite vacation spot.

It is important to remember that the same setting can have different effects on different people. For example, a playground may be a place of joy for a child, but it may be a place of fear for someone who has been the victim of a crime.

Why is it important?

Two people can experience the same event in the same place, but have completely different perspectives. For example, two people might hike the same trail in Utah, but one person might enjoy the challenge of the climb, while the other person might find it tedious. People raised in the same home may vary in their views on discipline, depending on their own experiences.

Experiences and Psychological setting:

Their experiences, their personality, and their beliefs shape a character’s psychological setting. By understanding a character’s psychological setting, authors can create more believable and relatable characters.

Here are some tips for creating a strong psychological setting for your characters:

  • Consider your character’s experiences. What have they been through in their lives? How have these experiences shaped them?
  • Think about your character’s personality. What are their strengths and weaknesses? What are their values?
  • What are your character’s beliefs? What do they believe about the world? What do they believe about themselves?

By considering these factors, you can create a psychological setting that is unique to your character. This will help your readers to understand your character better and to connect with them on a deeper level.

Physical location and Psychological Setting:

The physical location of a story can have a significant impact on the psychological setting. If you remember back to a previous post about physical setting, this can be man-made or geographic locations. For example, a character who is used to the loud and stench-ridden streets of a big city may feel relaxed and happy when they go back home to the ranch.

The development of how a physical location affects your characters and thus your stories depends on the emotions previously attributed to them. For example, if your character has had a negative experience in a big city, they may be more likely to feel anxious or stressed when they are in one.

If your character is in a brand new physical location, the emotion and tone attached, and the details they’ll notice, will most often come from the closest comparison to their current predicament. For example, if your character is from a small town and they move to a big city, the noise and crowds may overwhelm them.

As a writer, you can use physical location to create a sense of atmosphere and mood in your story. By carefully choosing the locations for your scenes, you can evoke different emotions in your readers. For example, a scene set in a gloomy forest might create a sense of suspense or fear, while a scene set in a sunny meadow might create a sense of peace and tranquility.

Here are some tips for using physical location to your advantage in your writing:

  • Choose locations that apply to your story and characters. The location should be a place where your characters would realistically go or be.
  • Consider the emotional impact of the location. How will the location make your characters feel?
  • Use details to bring the location to life. What do your characters see, hear, smell, taste, and feel?
  • Use the location to create a sense of atmosphere and mood. What kind of atmosphere do you want to create in your story?

The experiences shared through storytelling can change the psychological setting. This actually goes back as far as stories go. They passed lessons learned down through oral storytelling, and slowly humans survived a little longer each generation. Look at how far our food has come from just in the 1900s. Thanks to The Jungle by Upton Sinclair, our view on meat processing changed, and it created a more scrupulous society.


Psychological setting is how a physical setting affects the people in it. A character’s experiences, personality, and beliefs, as well as the physical location of the story, can shape the psychological setting. Understanding psychological setting helps authors create believable characters and evokes emotions in readers.

Here are some tips for using psychological setting to your advantage in your writing:

  • Consider your character’s experiences, personality, and beliefs. How have these factors shaped the way they view the world?
  • Think about the physical location of your story. How does the setting affect your characters’ emotions and actions?
  • Use details to bring the setting to life. What do your characters see, hear, smell, taste, and feel?
  • Use the setting to create a sense of atmosphere and mood. What kind of atmosphere do you want to create in your story?

Thank you for reading and, as always, keep learning, keep writing, and stay fresh, my nugs!

Previous Writing Post: Types of Setting: Social

Previous Post: Myers Fiction Review: Behind Blue Eyes by Anna Mocikat

Next Post: Types of Setting: Historical

2 thoughts on “Types of Setting: Psychological

  1. Pingback: Types of Setting: Social – Myers Fiction

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