What is Environmental Psychology?

As a concept, environmental psychology encompasses many different disciplines at once. The “environment” that the concept of environmental psychology can refer to includes both tangible and imagined interpretations of the word, including both architectural and social surroundings.

Core Assertion

While environmental psychology can be challenging to succinctly denote due its multidisciplinary nature, its core assertion in all fields is the existence and significance of interplay between individuals and their surroundings. Environmental psychology is founded on the belief that the environment should be interpreted as a major factor in the development and ongoing conduct of people that either reside within it or mentally perceive it.

Reputable professionals from dozens of academic fields, from geography to economy, have heatedly discussed the notion of environmental psychology and its implications when applied to different fields. Though a unanimous consensus yet remains far removed from the realm of possibility, many environmental psychology researchers have compiled their findings into organized “subsets” based on distinctly different interpretations of the term “environment” in different spheres of discussion.

Relevance and Challenges

Ideally, a better understanding of just how human behavior is molded by the simultaneous influences of social and geographic environments could be used to establish a more accurate predictive model of human behavior.

In a sense, these highly sought-after common denominators of behavior modification across the entire board of different environments could be considered the “X factors” of behavioral modeling. An objective portrayal of the intersections between all social and geographical “coordinates” on a grid chart of human behavior would be of immeasurable value for those in nearly all fields of study and lines of business.

Value Orientation and Problem Orientation

Discussions about the practical implementations of environmental psychology have led to both value orientation and problem orientation. The environmental psychology field is filled with research that is simultaneously aimed at objective problem resolution and facilitating a healthier social climate. The physical factors that environmental psychology concerns refer not only to the health of natural ecosystems, but also how even things such as the arrangement of a living room or lobby can have subtle behavioral influences.

On the value-oriented level, environmental psychology research concerns the differing effects of environmental stress on individuals who may inhabit the same physical space but have entirely different perceptions of their surroundings. Varying intensities of stress created by the variance in how different individuals internally perceive their surroundings could result in differing impacts on their professional performance, everyday behavior, and even impulse control.

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The pursuit of more environmental psychology insight is motivated in no small part by the opportunity to more effectively explain a wide range of behavioral patterns that affect entire societies, from criminal activity to physical movement influenced by the city’s architecture.

Attempts to collectively model human behavior on a global scale are still subject to an impractically massive margin of error, but with a improved model that accurately accounts for the “hidden” behavior modification effects of the environment, there could be a substantial boost in predictive power. Presently, there still a great amount of room for the power of human behavior modeling to grow before such clear insight into environmental psychology can be feasible.