Understanding This Emerging Field
Environmental psychology can be defined as multidisciplinary field that is focused on the manner in which humans are impacted by their environment. Similar to other fields of psychology, environmental psychology studies environmental influences at both the micro and macro levels. Although focused on psychology, environmental psychology utilizes a number of disciplines such as anthropology, architecture, sociology, etc.
In a macro view, environmental psychology provides an understanding of how the environment impacts human cognitive skills as well as behavior. This purpose lends itself to allowing psychologists and other professionals to recommend designs and alterations in society and its features in order to create healthier environments. For example, the impact of urbanization on individuals could lead to the development of better designed cities and communities which attempt to reduce the negative impacts of urbanization. The overall purpose of environmental psychology is to help various design professionals (such as architects, interior designers, and urban planners) work together to improve the overall human environment, both at the personal living space level (micro level) and at the larger, all-encompassing level (macro level).
At the micro level, environments are studied such as the workplace or pollution in a community and their impacts of individuals. For instance, it may be found that people living in industrialized areas experience more stressors than those individuals living in less industrialized areas. This research may lead to individualized solutions for making people less stressed in these areas.
While environmental psychology is a relatively new discipline, it is becoming an important are of study. The reason for this growing importance was exhibited by Kurt Lewin who posited that a person’s behavior is a function of the person within his or her environment (Steg, 2013). This concept gave birth to the concept of social psychology and later environmental psychology. This milestone provided a new means of looking at human behavior rather than from a behavioral or psychodynamic approach.
Steg, L. (2013). Environmental psychology: An introduction. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Blackwell.