What is Environmental Psychology

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Environmental Psychology Paper

PSY/460 - Environmental Psychology


Finding its origins in architectural psychology, environmental psychology is concerned with the relationship between human beings and their surroundings. In a campaign to improve mental hospitals nearly fifty years ago, architects turned to psychologists for help with understanding the cognitive and social behaviors of human beings and their relation to the way a building was structured around them. As this relationship between architects and psychologists progressed to other fields such as park designs, color coordination and furniture arrangement, the field of environmental psychology was born.

What is Environmental Psychology?

Environmental psychology is the relationship between people and their surroundings. This can be divided into many fields of study, such as city and urban planning, where the building of communities and rebuilding of urban areas relies on psychologists to help understand how a person will be affected by certain design choices.

Environmental health psychology is another subfield where researchers look to understand how our environment has an impact on our health. Environmental psychology draws on a great deal of disciplines, from anthropology, history and sociology, to urban design, geography and architecture in order to help bridge the gap between a human being and his or her environment.

Theoretical Approaches

A major theoretical approach in the field of environmental psychology, known as ecological psychology, was made popular by the works of J.J. Gibson and Roger G. Barker. Both men stressed the importance of studying human behavior within the context of specific environments. In other words, they claimed that it is impossible to properly establish theories on human behavior without knowing the environment that the human is in. In Ecological Psychology, Baker argued that the changes in a human's behavior depending on environment are too drastic to not...