In the field of psychology, a multidisciplinary field that focuses on the interaction between individuals and their environment is called Environmental Psychology. It has aim to improve our relationship with the natural environment and make our surroundings more humane.
Brunswick (1908-1955) and Lewin (1890-1947) – They are generally regarded as the “founding fathers” of environmental psychology. (Gifford, 2007a)
Hellpach is said to be the first person to use and define the term “Environmental Psychology”, in his first book, Geopsyche. This book had collection of his works and he mainly studies the effect of the Sun and the Moon on people’s activities. This book went on to be very famous, having many editions and translations into numerous different-different languages.
Other names of Environment Psychology are human factors science, ecological psychology, cognitive ergonomics, environment-behaviour studies, ecopsychology, and person-environment studies.
Research Methods Used In Environmental Psychology
To examine how people and their surroundings interact, researchers in environmental psychology employ a variety of research techniques. The commonly used methods in environmental psychology are as follows:
Researchers examine the interactions between people and their surroundings in environmental psychology using a variety of research techniques. Participants provided data on their experiences, preferences, and attitudes regarding their surroundings by completing structured or semi-structured questionnaires or survey forms. It can be administered through online mode, face-to-face, or through mail.
2. Field Study/ Case Study:
Field study involves systematic observations and recording behaviours, interactions, and environmental characteristics n real-world settings, such as parks, workplaces, or urban areas. This method help the researchers in the collection of detailed and objective data on how individuals engage with their surroundings. In case study, researchers examine historical-related documents, environmental reports, or public records to have information regarding to the changes happening in environmental attitudes, policies, or behaviours over time. This method helps the researchers in the examination of long-term trends and patterns in relation to.
3. Laboratory Experiments:
Laboratory Experiments are conducted to examine cause-and-effect relationships between variables, to examine hypothesis related to environmental factors and their impact on individuals’.
4. Computer Stimulation Study:
Virtual reality and simulations provide an immersive and controlled environment for examining individuals’ responses to virtual representations of real-world settings. Researchers can manipulate environmental features and examine how individuals perceive and interact with these virtual environments. VR and simulations offer opportunities to explore behavioural and psychological reactions in ecologically valid yet controlled conditions.
Understanding The Role of Environmental Psychology
Environmental psychology plays an important role in understanding the interplay between an individual and their physical and social environments. Following are few key roles and contributions of environmental psychology:
1. Understanding the interplay between Human-Environment:
Environmental psychology helps to understand how an individual perceive, experience, and interact with their surroundings. It works on the impact of environmental factors on human behaviour, cognition, emotions, and well-being. By examining this interaction between an individual and their surrounding, it provides insights into how environmental design can support positive results and improve people’s lives.
2. Designing for Optimal Functioning of Environment:
Environmental psychology forms the design of physical spaces to enhance human overall well-being, productivity, and satisfaction. It examines factors such as lighting, noise levels, color, spatial layout, and access to nature. Applying research findings, environmental psychologists collaborate with architects, urban planners, and designers to create an environments that promotes health, comfort, and efficiency.
3. Enhancing Sustainable Behaviour:
Environmental psychology contributes to promoting pro-environmental attitudes and behaviours. It investigates the psychological determinants of environmental concern and explores strategies to encourage sustainable behaviours such as recycling, energy conservation, and sustainable transportation choices. By examining the factors that influence individual choices, environmental psychology can inform interventions and policies to foster sustainable practices.
4. Finding Preventive Measures for Environmental Stressors:
Environmental psychology studies findings suggests about how the psychological consequences of environmental stressors such as noise, pollution, overcrowding, man-made disasters and natural disasters. Environmental stressors can affect a persons’ mental health, well-being, and quality of life. Findings from studies in environmental psychology helps in developing preventive measures to reduce negative impacts, create resilient communities, and improve disaster preparedness.
5. Supporting Human Health and Well-being of individuals:
Environmental psychology investigates the benefits of exposure to natural environments, such as parks, gardens, and green spaces, on mental health, stress reduction, cognitive functioning, and restoration. These studies promotes nature-based interventions and the integration of nature into urban life settings to support human overall health and well-being.
6. Informing Policy and Planning:
It provide evidence-based insights for policymakers, urban planners, and decision-makers. By considering the psychological dimensions of the built and natural environment. It informs the development of sustainable policies, urban planning strategies, and public space designs. It emphasizes creating inclusive and supportive environments that cater to diverse needs and preferences.