What is Environmental Psychology?

1. Overview of the Topic – Summary:

From Wikipedia: Environmental Psychology is an interdisciplinary field that focuses on the interplay between individuals and their surroundings. It examines the way in which the natural environment and our built environments shape us as individuals. The field defines the term environment broadly, encompassing natural environments, social settings, built environments, learning environments, and informational environments.

Here is another overview defined by Professor Daniel Stokols, from the free UC Irvine Course Description on iTunes: How are people affected by overcrowding, traffic congestion, and noise? Why do people litter or vandalize their environments? How do buildings affect their occupants? Does the architectural design of apartment buildings influence patterns of neighboring and friendship formation? Why do people consume scarce environmental resources? Can residential, work, and neighborhood settings be designed to reduce stress, increase productivity, and promote physical activity? These are some of the questions that have concerned environmental psychologists.

2. What is the focus of this Topic?:

From the definition above, Environmental Psychology is an interdisciplinary field that focuses on the interplay between individuals and their surroundings. With the view of how all environments can affect psychological health, it explores the many psychological impacts of the built environment in ways that have not typically been focused on in on deeper levels. While many designers understand the impact that colors, for instance, have on a psychological level, there is a greater depth to this topic than is typical included.

From Wikipedia: Environmental Psychology was not fully recognized as its own field until the late 1960s when scientists began to question the tie between human behavior and our natural and built environments. Since its conception, the field has been committed to the development of a discipline that is both value oriented and problem oriented, prioritizing research aimed at solving complex environmental problems in the pursuit of individual well-being within a larger society.

3. Why it’s listed here – What is the relevance to Architectural Medicine?

Architectural Medicine works to integrate the many facets of human health in the built environment, and this includes the topic of mental or psychological health. By exploring how the built environment impacts overall well-being of an occupant and society at large, it is critical to include the study of how architecture can impact this facet of wellness based on mental health.

While this topic has been in existence for over fifty years, the topic itself has just become a more common discussion in the main stream architectural and health related fields in the second decade of the 21st century.

It is a critical component to the whole, cohesive picture of wellness in the built environment, and will require more research, study and implementation for healthier buildings and cities.

4. Common groups and individuals involved with this topic:

From Wikipedia: The origins of this field of study are unknown, however, Willy Hellpach is said to be the first to mention “environmental psychology”. One of his books, Geopsyche, discusses topics such as how the sun and the moon affect human activity, the impact of extreme environments, and the effects of color and form (Pol, E., 2006, Blueprints for a history of environmental psychology (I): From first birth to American transition. “Medio Ambiente y Comportamiento Humano”, 7(2), 95-113). Among the other major scholars at the roots of environmental psychology were Jakob von Uexküll, Kurt Lewin, Egon Brunswik, and later Gerhard Kaminski and Carl Friedrich Graumann.

The current developments of Environmental Psychology are supported by the previous and current work of the following, which is only a short list from Wikipedia of the pioneers in this field: Irwin Altman, Robert Gifford, Ph.D. , James J. Gibson, Roger Hart,Rachel and Stephen Kaplan, Cindi Katz, Setha Low, Kevin A. Lynch, Francis T. McAndrew, Bill Mollison, Amos Rapoport, Leanne Rivlin, Susan Saegert, Robert Sommer, Daniel Stokols, Allan Wicker, Gary Winkel, James A. Swan and David Uzzell.

5. Resources: