What is Environmental Psychology? Lori Schmidlin PSY/460 November 14, 2011 Corey Vigdor What is Environmental Psychology? Psychology is a science that studies behavior. Environmental psychology studies behavior in relation to the physical environment. Environment can be anything around a person. Each person is different and how he or she reacts to his or her environment. To study environmental psychology, a person needs to look at different approaches and the importance of research to arrive at an idea. Definition of Environmental Psychology
Environmental psychology is an interdisciplinary field that focuses on the behavior between people and their environment. Many people feel comfortable in one environment and not another. This field can find why that is. Each person is unique. The environment is also unique. The environment consists of pets, plants, and other objects including people. Environmental psychology is holistic and natural. This also studies the animals or people in their natural surroundings. The surrounding can have a profound influence on a person’s behavior (Clayton & Myers, 2009).
Human behavior was the result of the physical environment (2004). Various factors contribute to the emergence of this field. “Present day environmental psychology can now be characterized by four aspects: the attention paid to the physical characteristics of the environment in which human behavior occurs; the wide variety of research methods adopted; the specific interest in problems with a clear social relevance, and the adoption of interdisciplinary collaboration practices with other field” according to the encyclopedia of applied science (2004). Theoretical Approaches
Environmental psychology uses many perspectives to explain the interaction between behavior, experience, and environment. The theories borrow principles from the different fields of psychology. One is arousal theory and the other is stimulus load theory. Arousal theory is a perspective that explains that the levels of arousal are optimal for noise level, stimulation, and invasion of personal space (Arkkelin &Veitch, 1995). Each person may experience this differently. A person might want a quiet night at home. Some may want to go out for the night and have some fun.
This depends on the person. Each person tries to seek his or her optimum level. This theory explains thrill-seekers. Thrill-seekers use their environment to get aroused. Stimulus load theory is a perspective where people have limited capacity to process information (Arkkelin & Veitch, 1995). When a person gets overloaded, the brain will start to shut out the extra stimuli. The focus will be on the important stimuli and not the unimportant stimuli. This theory can also go on the other side and deal with low stimuli that can lead to depression and irritability.
An example would be being stranded in the house during a snowstorm. A person will get bored. He or she needs to keep busy. Both theories are linked to the external environments. Each theory has different aspects but one. Each thinks that being over-stimulated and over-aroused will lead to performance that goes downhill. Arousal theory gives the explanation that certain levels are needed for optimum performance Stimulus load theory does that too. Research in Environmental Psychology Research is important in any field of science. Environmental psychology is no different.
Research in this field encompasses the person’s behavior and the environment. Research in this field is important because scientists need to find new facts and put them in a meaningful pattern (Arkkelin & Veitch, 1995). The three methods the scientist would use would be laboratory, field correlation studies, and field experiments. They would use variables that were dependent and independent in laboratory experiments. In field correlation studies, scientist can predict the occurrence of natural events. Field experiments use both variables and the predictions to make an outcome.
Most of the research done is out in the field. They use both field correlation and field experiments. Sometimes they will do controlled laboratory experiments. Conclusion In conclusion, Environmental psychology is a field of science that studies behaviors in an environment. Each environment is different for each individual. The science can give a person arousal or stimulus load. Each person is equipped to handle situations. Each person needs to know his or her level on what she or he can handle. The theoretical approaches help a person with different aspects.
The research is important to this science. The research gathers information to bring to the people. This way there can be a balance between the environment and people. References Environmental Psychology. Overview (2004). Encyclopedia of Applied Psychology. Arkkelin, D. , & Veitch, R. (1995). Environmental Psychology. An Interdisciplinary Perspective. A Pearson Education Co. Prentice Hall, Inc. Clayton, S. & Myers, G. (2009). Conservation psychology: Understanding and promoting human care for nature. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Blackwell.