What is Environmental Psychology?
There are many factors that could define or affect psychology and one of this is the environment and several other elements that it entails. Environmental Psychology is defined simple as the application of psychology with the environment or you could think of it as psychology, dealing with behavior (general meaning of psychology) in connection with the environment (Mathew, 2011). Perhaps the reason why experts even dare relate psychology with the environment is because there are significant things that can be found or seen in the environment that could influence how an individual behaves. Things like the shape of nature or in general, the type of country where an individual lives are examples of areas that may concern an environmental psychologist. What makes this branch of psychology different from others is that it does not merely focus on the process of interaction between a person and another person. Although it still focuses on the main aspect of psychology which is behavior, it however relates it to physical materials found in the environment such as the plants, the objects, and usually all living beings (Ittelson, Proshansky, Rivlin and Winkel, 1974).
Problem Oriented Approach vs. Interdisciplinary Approach
There are a couple of orientations or approaches that can be used in environmental psychology. Two of the most interesting approaches are the problem-oriented and the interdisciplinary approach although the remaining orientations are interesting in their own way too. It is important to know how and when to apply different approaches because almost all individuals roaming in the planet are unique and the way of treating an environment-induced behavioral disorder or disturbance could definitely be unique and hence, must be treated on a case to case basis too.
The problem oriented approach tries to focus on the problem at hand. It’s like the generic scientific approach used in any field of science. First, it tries to identify a problem and from that, tries to develop an appropriate and possibly, the most effective accessible solution. Usually, upon identifying the underlying problem, possible solutions can only be gathered by doing relevant researches which sometimes could get tedious and even time consuming. One specific thing that is of great importance about this approach is that it requires direct contact from the environment that causes the arousal of problems (Proshansky, n.d.).
The interdisciplinary approach on the other hand puts a somewhat greater focus on the possible interactions or relationship with other disciplines. The reason behind this is to be able to diagnose and treat the problem not from a single but from different perspectives. The disciplines that are most likely involved in this approach are sociology, anthropology, economics, etc. Note that it may also happen that the interdisciplinary approach tries to connect with other specializations of psychology. However, the main bases that will be used in most parts of the process are still in the field of environmental psychology which also includes design fields.
A significant number of behaviors and norms in our society are almost always influenced by the environment. Therefore, the process of relating the environment with the behavior of individuals will always be an important mechanism in psychology. Some applications of environmental psychology could be in the field of design, architecture, engineering and city planners; all of which are geared towards improvisations on the human environment.
Mathew, G. (2011). Environmental Psychology. Psychology for all. Accessed October 2011.
Retrieved from http://www.psychology4all.com/environmentalpsychology.htm.
Proshansky. (1976). The Field of Environmental Psychology. Holt McDougal.
Ittelson, W. H., Proshansky, H., Rivlin, L., & Winkel, G. (1974). An Introduction to
Environmental Psychology. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.