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Environmental Psychology

The purpose of this lecture is primarily to introduce and explore the main themes and foci of environmental psychology and to also consider inter-relations between environmental and social psychology.

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Environmental Psychology

  1. 1. Environmental Psychology James Neill, 2008 University of Canberra
  2. 2. Overview <ul><li>What is Environmental Psychology? </li></ul><ul><li>Negative Environmental Influences </li></ul><ul><li>Environmental Design </li></ul><ul><li>Natural Environment </li></ul><ul><li>Evolutionary Psychology </li></ul><ul><li>Biophilia </li></ul>
  3. 3. What is Environmental Psychology? <ul><li>&quot;Environmental psychology studies the interactions and relations between people and their environments.&quot; (Oskamp & Schultz, 1998, p. 206) </li></ul>
  4. 4. What is Environmental Psychology?
  5. 5. Scope <ul><li>Environmental psychology is also known as, or closely related to: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>environmental social sciences </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>architectural psychology </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>socio-architecture </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>ecological psychology </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>ecopsychology </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>behavioural geography </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>environment-behavior studies </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>person-environment studies </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>environmental sociology </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>social ecology </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>environmental design research </li></ul></ul>
  6. 6. Environment  Humans <ul><li>&quot;Traditionally...environmental psychology has emphasized how the physical environment affects human thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. However, much recent environmental research has stressed the other side of the coin - how human actions affect the environment.&quot; (Oskamp & Schultz, 1998, p. 206) </li></ul>
  7. 7. <ul><li>“ Ecological issues of people's relationship to their environment, both natural and human-made, have assumed crucial importance to our quality of life, and even to the survival capacity of humanity.” (Oskamp & Schultz, 1998) </li></ul>Environment  Humans
  8. 8. <ul><li>Is a reasonably new 'discipline' </li></ul><ul><li>Grew out of social psychology </li></ul><ul><li>Has evolved in its own directions </li></ul><ul><li>Is interdisciplinary, e.g., related to anthropology, architecture, urban planning, politics, sociology </li></ul>Environmental Psychology...
  9. 9. <ul><li>Psychology & the Environment </li></ul><ul><li>APS Interest Group </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>Population & Environmental Psychology </li></ul><ul><li>APA Division 34 </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>Interest Groups
  10. 10. Negative Environmental Influences <ul><li>Human spatial behavior </li></ul><ul><li>Environmental stressors </li></ul><ul><li>Environmental risks </li></ul><ul><li>Environmental design </li></ul><ul><li>Complex relations b/w physical stressors and people's mental and emotional adjustment to it (e.g., control) </li></ul>
  11. 11. Human spatial behaviour: Density and Crowding <ul><li>“ some of the negative impacts of crowding can be reduced if people feel that they have some control over their crowded conditions” </li></ul><ul><li>(Oskamp & Schultz, 1998, p. 206) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Density = # of people per space </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Crowding = subjective -ve experiences due to density </li></ul></ul>
  12. 12. Human spatial behaviour: Density and Crowding
  13. 13. Environmental Stressors <ul><li>Crowding </li></ul><ul><li>Daily hassles & life events </li></ul><ul><li>Noise </li></ul><ul><li>Temperature </li></ul>Environmental conditions that interfere with optimal human functioning include:
  14. 14. Environmental Risks <ul><li>Risk perception studies e.g., of: </li></ul><ul><li>Natural disasters </li></ul><ul><li>Diseases </li></ul><ul><li>Pollution </li></ul><ul><li>Food contamination </li></ul><ul><li>Accidents </li></ul><ul><li>Nuclear power </li></ul><ul><li>Terrorism </li></ul>
  15. 15. <ul><li>We tend to perceive as most risky, environmental variables we “can't” control e.g., predator attacks as opposed to risks we perceive that we can control e.g., driving. </li></ul>Environmental Risks
  16. 16. Environmental Design <ul><li>Assessing & planning : Describing & predicting human behaviour for artificial designs </li></ul><ul><li>Architectural psychology </li></ul><ul><li>Consumer psychology : e.g., Shopping Mall Design </li></ul><ul><li>Permaculture </li></ul><ul><li>Wayfinding </li></ul>
  17. 17. Environmental Design <ul><li>“ We shape our buildings and our buildings shape us” - Churchill </li></ul>
  18. 18. Natural Environment <ul><li>Preference </li></ul><ul><li>Evolutionary Psychology </li></ul><ul><li>Biophilia Hypothesis </li></ul><ul><li>Nature's Psychological Effects </li></ul><ul><li>Nature-Deficit Disorder </li></ul>
  19. 19. Natural Environment <ul><li>Preference for natural over built environments (Ulrich, 1986) e.g., leisure and recreation, real estate. </li></ul><ul><li>Positive physical and psychological reactions to exposure to natural environments. </li></ul><ul><li>Mental imagery and sounds of natural environments has +ve psychological effects. (Kaplan). </li></ul>
  20. 20. Evolutionary Psychology <ul><li>“ Ishi was sure he knew the cause of our discontent. It stemmed from an excessive amount of indoor time... </li></ul><ul><li>'It is not a man's nature to be too much indoors.” </li></ul>
  21. 21. Evolutionary Psychology <ul><li>&quot;If today I had a young mind to direct, to start on the journey of life, and I was faced with the duty of choosing between the natural way of my forefathers and that of the... present way of civilization, I would, for its welfare, unhesitatingly set that child's feet in the path of my forefathers.  I would raise him to be an Indian!“ (Tom Brown) </li></ul>
  22. 22. Biophilia Hypothesis <ul><li>Edward Wilson, an etymologist proposed that: humans have an instinctive affinity with life-like processes i.e., nature, due to our evolutionary history </li></ul>&quot;innate tendency to focus on life and lifelike processes.&quot; - Wilson
  23. 23. Biophilia Hypothesis <ul><li>Proposition: </li></ul><ul><li>Human beings have a genetic predisposition towards “life-like” or “nature” processes. </li></ul><ul><li>Humans evolved as creatures deeply enmeshed with the intricacies of nature, and that we still have this affinity with nature ingrained in our genotype. </li></ul>
  24. 24. Examples of “nature’s” imprint on consciousness… <ul><li>90% of children’s stories, cartoons, etc. feature animals as the main characters </li></ul><ul><li>Photos and artworks of nature and natural scenes adorn our homes, work-places, used as screen savers, etc. </li></ul><ul><li>Dwellings with views of nature (e.g., ocean views) are highly valued </li></ul>
  25. 25. Nature's Psychological Effects <ul><li>Research reveals positive, healthy effects of nature-based experiences e.g., effects of </li></ul><ul><li>Animals </li></ul><ul><li>Nature scenes </li></ul><ul><li>Adventure therapy </li></ul><ul><li>Green exercise </li></ul>
  26. 26. Nature-Deficit Disorder <ul><li>A term coined by Richard Louv in his Last Child in the Woods (2005) </li></ul><ul><li>Argues that children are spending less time outdoors, resulting in behavioural problems (e.g., ADHD), exacerbated by parental fears, restricted access to nature, and technology. </li></ul>
  27. 27. Green Prescription <ul><li>Doctors and psychologists are being encouraged to consider “green” experiences (in touch with nature) and “green prescriptions” as part of the physical and psychological health promotion, prevention, and treatment regimens. </li></ul>
  28. 28. Howard Frumkin <ul><li>Literature review of the positive physical health effects of nature (in American Journal of Preventive Medicine) </li></ul><ul><li>Biophilia hypothesis as underlying the positive benefits. </li></ul><ul><li>Research reveals positive, healthy effects of nature-based experiences e.g., effects of animals, nature scenes, adventure therapy, etc. </li></ul>
  29. 29. Humans  Environment <ul><li>&quot;Most psychologists still think that environmental problems are the concern of environmental scientists but environmental problems are caused primarily by human behaviors, feelings and attitudes. We can't solve these problems without psychology's help and we really need psychologists to go work on them.&quot; </li></ul><ul><li>- Deborah Winter </li></ul>
  30. 30. Humans  Environment <ul><li>Environmental Concerns </li></ul><ul><li>Attitudes & Behaviors </li></ul><ul><li>Population  Consumption </li></ul><ul><li>Barriers </li></ul><ul><li>Technology </li></ul><ul><li>Policy </li></ul><ul><li>Sustainability </li></ul>
  31. 31. Environmental Concerns <ul><li>Proenvironmental attitudes , beliefs and values about the relationship between humans and the natural environment </li></ul><ul><li>Considers the environment as valuable in its own right and as worthy of protection, care, and preservation by humans. </li></ul>
  32. 32. Environmental Concerns <ul><li>Rising since the 1960s </li></ul><ul><li>Gallup & Gallup (1993) surveyed ~1000 people in each of 22 countries. In 20 countries, environmental protection was the top social concern. </li></ul>
  33. 33. Environmental Concerns <ul><li>Approx. one quarter of Westerners think environmental concerns are exaggerated ( N > 1000 per country). </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Roy Morgan Research (2002) </li></ul></ul>
  34. 34. Population Psychology <ul><li>Bigger picture examination of the impacts of human population and consumption on the environment. </li></ul><ul><li>Also examines psychological strategies for changing rates of population growth and psychological impacts of population. </li></ul>
  35. 35. Population
  36. 36. Population  Consumption
  37. 37. <ul><li>Psychologists can make important contributions to preserving natural resources. </li></ul><ul><li>Needed changes are largely behavioural, e.g., recycling and energy conservation. </li></ul>Population  Consumption
  38. 38. Recycling <ul><li>Approx. three-quarters of Westerners report being recyclers. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Roy Morgan Research (2002) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Factors </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Demographics </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Knowledge </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Concern (Attitudes) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Personality </li></ul></ul>
  39. 39. Attitude-Behavior <ul><li>Actions do not necessarily follow attitudes. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Need awareness of serious personal consequences or strong proconservation personal norm . </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Prompts are more successful if they are: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>polite (rather than demanding), </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>request a response that is easy to perform and are </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>administered close to the point of response </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Geller, 1981 </li></ul></ul>
  40. 40. Attitude-Behavior <ul><li>Antecedent strategies are not very effective unless combined with behavioral consequences e.g., reinforcement, punishment, and feedback. </li></ul><ul><li>However, use of behavioral contingencies can create an external locus of control . </li></ul>
  41. 41. Attitude-Behavior <ul><li>Use persuasion, social influence, remove obstacles, and avoid social traps (e.g., logging industry vs. greenies) to increase desired environmental behaviours. </li></ul>
  42. 42. Attitude-Behavior <ul><li>Lobby for policy changes which help to create optimal conditions for adoption and maintenance of sustainable living behaviours. </li></ul><ul><li>Foster individual specific, local, internal, emotional connections to nature. </li></ul>
  43. 43. Environmental Paradigms (or Weltanschaung = Worldviews) <ul><li>Egocentric e.g., Western worldview </li></ul><ul><li>Anthropocentric e.g., Humanism </li></ul><ul><li>Ecocentric e.g., Deep Ecology </li></ul>
  44. 44. Deep Ecology <ul><li>Shallow Ecology : Concern About Pollution and Resource Depletion. </li></ul><ul><li>Intermediate-Depth Ecology : The Spaceship Earth Analogy. </li></ul><ul><li>Deep Ecology : Bioequality. Morally speaking, humans are not more important than nonhuman life forms and are not fundamentally different than, or separate from, them. </li></ul>
  45. 45. Ecofeminism <ul><li>“ The ecofeminism movement holds that solving the problems of sexism and environmental destruction requires acceptance of the feminine paradigm and rejection of the male paradigm.” Oskamp & Schultz, 1998, p. 212 </li></ul>
  46. 46. Best Solution? <ul><li>Slow Growth – currently unlikely in market economy, but necessary </li></ul><ul><li>Faster Transition to Sustainability – we can be 15 x as efficient if current best technology was implemented </li></ul><ul><li>Such changes are only possible via combined effects of public policy & psychological strategy. </li></ul>
  47. 47. Best Solution? <ul><li>“ Yes we need more research, but we know enough to act” </li></ul><ul><li>- Howard Frumkin </li></ul>
  48. 48. Interventions / Models <ul><li>Informational interventions </li></ul><ul><li>Social interventions </li></ul><ul><li>Slow growth </li></ul><ul><li>Technology transformation </li></ul><ul><li>Sustainable community </li></ul><ul><li>Permaculture </li></ul>
  49. 49. Environmental Impact <ul><li>I = P x A x T </li></ul><ul><li>I = Impact on the environment </li></ul><ul><li>P = The population </li></ul><ul><li>A = Consumption per person (affluence) </li></ul><ul><li>T = environmental effect of particular technologies that support the level of affluence. </li></ul>
  50. 50. Public Policy Areas <ul><li>Energy Use </li></ul><ul><li>Pollution </li></ul><ul><li>Solid Waste </li></ul><ul><li>Environmental Justice </li></ul><ul><li>Natural Resource Management </li></ul><ul><li>Population </li></ul>
  51. 51. Public Policy Strategy <ul><li>Strategies range from static to dynamic psychology models </li></ul><ul><li>Remove obstacles </li></ul><ul><li>Introduce incentives & punishments </li></ul><ul><li>Educate </li></ul><ul><li>Feedback e.g., energy use monitors </li></ul><ul><li>Change norms (worldview) </li></ul>
  52. 52. Conservation Economy <ul><li>Pattern Map of a Conservation Economy </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>
  53. 53. Title Only The New Nature
  54. 54. The New Nature
  55. 55. Feedback
  56. 57. Permaculture <ul><li>Permanent – Culture </li></ul><ul><li>Bill Mollison, a psychologist in Tasmania co-developed the framework with one of his students, David Holmgren . </li></ul>
  57. 58. Permaculture <ul><li>It's about design of systems using natural principles in order to minimise human effort and maximise returns in a sustainable way. </li></ul>
  58. 60. Psychology & The Future <ul><li>Many psychologists work for environmental management agencies, planning authorities, & government bodies, & advise on psychological and social considerations and issues, including measurement and assessment of: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>community attitudes, values and concerns, </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>the relative effectiveness of differing communication and behaviour change strategies, </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>‘ the people side’ & the planning & design of sustainable human settings & natural environment based services. </li></ul></ul>