Environmental Psychology

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Weâ ve all heard of environmental preservation, but understanding the field of enviro nmental psychology relates to so much more than just keeping the grass green. En vironmental psychology studies how humans relate to one another as well as their surroundings, so it can refer to man-made environments as well as natural ones. Environmental psychologists try to determine what makes humans comfortable and h ow we can adjust our surroundings to reduce stress and enhance quality of life f or as many people as possible. Their work has a natural tie-in with conventional environmentalism because they believe that unspoiled nature can provide one of the best backdrops for human li fe. Whether we are aware of it or not, we react to our environment. Environmental ps ychology as a formal discipline came into being in the 1950s, when researchers w ere primarily seeking to improve mental hospitals. Previous to this, architects were rather self-involved, they built the structure to fit their own personal requirements and completely ignored the human element that would inhabit it. Researchers found that traditionally-designed mental hospitals actually aggravat ed problem behavior in mental patients. With a little adjustment, a better envir onment could be created that would soothe the patients and make their issues eas ier to handle. While some of us may classify ourselves as mental patients and others may not, w e all share this innate desire to have beautiful, calm surroundings in which to thrive. A great deal of the environmental psychology discipline is devoted to ho w environment affects society. One of the first great pioneers of environmental psychology was Robert Barker, o bserved in 1947 that citizens of Oskaloosa, Kansas associated certain surroundin gs with certain behaviors. For example, when in church they assumed their â church be havior,â in school their â school behavior,â and so on and so forth. Each successive environment carried with it a character or...
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