Environmental Psychology on the Move!
We All Do Not Live in a Vacuum
In every moment of our lives, we are in one place or another,
interacting with & within that place.
Environmental Psychology is a relatively recent, distinct and perceived field of psychology. It is an interdisciplinary field studying how we, as individuals and in groups, are associated with our physical settings and how our conduct and experiences are changed by our surrounding environment.
The term ‘environment’ has been defined broadly by this field, encompassing natural environments, social settings, built up environments, learning conditions, and informational environments. Environmental psychology is generally said to be a new field—around 50 years old now—that has mushroomed rapidly because of the declining health of our natural environment and the need to design structures that better reflect the necessities of their users. Environmental psychology was not completely recognized as in its own entire field until 1960s, when scientists started to question the tie between human conduct and our natural and built environments.
Harold Proshansky is viewed as one of the founding fathers of Environmental psychology. He was the first to codify a significant number of tenets engaged with discipline and to advance the hypothesis that environment directly impacts one's behaviour in a predictable manner.
Value-oriented and Problem Oriented Field
Since its origination, the field has been focused on the development of a discipline that is both problem- oriented and value- oriented, organizing research pointed towards solving complex environmental issues in the quest for individual prosperity within a larger society. When tackling issues involving interaction between humans and the environment, regardless of whether global or local, one must have a model of human instinct that predicts the environmental conditions to which humans will respond well. Environmental psychology develops such a model of human nature while holding onto a broad and multidisciplinary focus.
At one extreme, people explore living, with its relation to housing pattern, stress factors and social personality. At another extreme, the natural environment is studied as both a problem zone, concerning degradation of environment, and a setting for satisfying certain recreational and mental problems.
Environmental Psychology sees man not as passive in the environment, however as an active and goal-directed being who acts upon his environment and who is deduced by it. In changing his environment, man changes himself. This is the dynamic interchange among men and their milieu or environment. The field is psychological as it centers around the thoughts, perspectives, and behaviors of individuals in relation to their environment.
One of the most significant challenges, that EP is assisting to overcome, is to apply psychological knowledge to help safeguard the natural environment. Numerous threats to environmental sustainability are brought about by human conduct and therefore, targeting human conduct is vital to protect nature and natural resources.
Environmental psychologists identify humans' behavior that can and ought to be changed to improve environmental quality, figure out which components influence their behaviors, and create, develop and evaluate interventions to change them. To add to the challenge, numerous people rebound from their pro-environmental behaviors. For instance, individuals who reduce energy consumption in one area will in general compensate by expanding their consumption in another. Environmental psychologists look not only to change behavior, but to guarantee that this altered behavior prompts genuine and long-lasting outcomes.
Idea of Environmental Man
The idea of the environmental man is indispensable to understand such process of change. Humans are not passive receivers of stimuli nor are they psychologically self-governing. Humans are continually in a dialectical tension with their environment or the milieu. They continually interact with it, shape it and are being shaped by it.
Environmental psychology also involves studying some essential psychological processes as each individual perceives and encounters the world in his/her unique ways. A growing trend in environmental psychology is coordinated towards the environment of the individuals. Mankind is moving at a rapid pace towards the realisation that the idea of the human environment must be based on this realisation that the world is a whole, of which man is an essential part and must incorporate not only the physical world around men, yet additionally their communities, their shelters and their feeling of prosperity and so forth.
Role of Environmental Psychology
Environmental psychologists have a huge part to maintain the harmony between man and the environment. Environmental psychology is likewise concerned about social issues. It adopts a humanistic direction in recognition of the fact that in dealing with the environment, people crucially influence the Earth on which they live and also others who share it with them. In this manner, one discovers that environmental psychology assumes a significant role in numerous issues identified with the built-up environment of humans.
Environmental psychologists have theorized that density and crowding can also adversely affect our temperament and may even cause stress- related illness. To comprehend and further solve the environmental problems, environmental psychologists accept that ideas, concepts and principles should come directly from the physical settings and issues being looked at.
Environment embraces numerous perspectives including how people see and experience the environment in the psychological sense, how they adjust and use it to serve human needs, and lastly, how humans accommodate their conduct in a constantly evolving ecosystem.
Hence, it tends to be said that environmental psychology involves the study of the effect of the physical environment on individuals and the impacts of those individuals on the physical environment. Today, environmental psychology gives a theoretical and methodological establishment for environmental planning, its design, and management. It looks at the manner in which the natural environment and our constructed or built environment shape us as individuals. Thus, environmental psychology is a significant field in today's world.
Have Created Varied Environmental Problems
Our Imperative Challenge is to Fix These Problems
Environmental Psychology is Crucial to Overcome This Challenge.
Khushi is currently a 2nd Year law student at University Institute of Legal Studies, Panjab University, Chandigarh. The author is a college representative of UILS, PU for the IURIS Legal blog.