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Environmental psychology Cheat Sheet by

Definition, characteristics, research methods, ERP, pro-environmental behaviors, theories, climate change, role of psychologist, digital age.

Historical contri­butions

Hellpach (1911)
first to introduce the term 'envi psych', studied impact of diff envi stimuli (colour, form, sun etc) on human activi­ties, famous phenom­enons: crowding, overst­imu­lation
Egon Bruswik (1903-­1955)
first to emphasis the importance of organi­sms's envi on its growth
Kurt Lewin (1890-­1947)
social action research - attempt to solve social problem by resear­ching on what causes it
Brunswik and Lewin are regarded as the ‘founding fathers’ of envi psych
James J Gibson
ecological theory of percep­tion- perceptual phenomenon should be considered as the direct result of 'ecolo­gical charac­ter­istics of envi stimuli
Ulric Neisser
attempting to integrate the Gibsonian ecological approach into the cognitive viewpoint
Dewey and Bentley
developed a modality to understand relati­onship between subject and object of perception

Pro enviro­nment behavior

goal oriented vs non-goal oriented
goal oriented def - 'behaviour that consci­ously seeks to minimize the negative impact of one’s actions on the natural and built world’ (Kollmuss and Agyeman 2002); ppl have explicit goal of doing something beneficial for the envi
non-goal directed def - 'behaviour that harms the envi as little as possible, or even benefits it'; here, pro envi behav can be habitual or motivated by other goals

Climate change

Global phenomenon
1970s - physical scientists raised alarms about anthro­pogenic (human­‐ca­used) climate change and its impacts
impacts envi, animals, humans- destab­ili­zation of ecological and human systems, and the rate of change outpacing humans’ and other species’ ability to adapt, creating displa­cement, disease, death, and extinction (IPCC 2013)

depends on location and vulner­ability
more respon­sib­lility is on indust­ria­lized countries emitting more heat trapping gases, but impact is more on non-in­dus­tri­alised countries and poorer population
also the cause of many other envi problems like water, noise polllution
Partic­ularly difficult for economic and political systems that rely on growth and consum­ption, + individual lifest­yles, due to the emission of greenhouse gases.
To address the problem, signif­icant changes are required in economics, politics, and personal behavior.
But it's difficult to understand how individual actions contribute to climate change, which makes it challe­nging to reduce enviro­nmental impact.
Psycho­logists have long been concerned with indivi­duals’ behaviour that contri­butes to climate change
pro envi and pro social behavior improves overall well-being of indiv
Direct effects:
120 studies published over the past 20 years that invest­igated extreme weather events
concluded that the possible conseq­uences may include: psycho­logical distress, worsened mental health, increased psychi­atric hospit­ali­zations and heightened rates of suicide
Indirect effects:
poverty, unempl­oyment, and homele­ssness


Intera­ctive approach
humans impact and influence envi and vice-versa in a recipr­ocal, dynamic way
Interd­isc­ipl­inary approach
close collab with other discip­lines - of psych, archit­ecture, geography, evs. helps implement behavior oriented envi design
Problem focused approach
aims to identify most effective soln to real life problems. 3 levels- local, regional and national, global

Enviro­nmental risk perception (ERP)

direct feelings related to envi (from past experi­ences) + subjective judgement of risks (can be manipu­lated by cog heuris­tics) + limite­d/u­nce­rtain info or misinfo = ERP
high ERP = higher risk response, more govt policy making, driving force for action and engagement in safety and health behaviors
Subjective Risk Perception - judgement that people make about the charac­ter­istics and severity of a risk; Includes: Value, Judgements and Morality
ERP is affected by 4 factors: affective (emotion, mood), cognitive (gravity of events, media coverage), contextual (framing of risk inform­ation, availa­bility of altern­ative inform­ation sources), individual (perso­nality traits, previous experi­ence, age)
Public debate = morall­y-p­rin­cipled vs techni­cally oriented; Evalua­tions of conseq­uences vs evaluation of moral consid­era­tions
Emotional reactions to natural risks are weaker than those to human caused risks.
Ethics­-based self-d­irected emotions (focus on moral rightness) are strong for behaviour.

envi behav > impact

behaviour measures often rely on self‐r­eports - may not reliably reflect actual behaviour, cannot accurately reflect enviro­nmental impact
when scholars develop lists of behaviours to measure their constructs they rarely consider enviro­nmental impact
A person conducting 7 out of 10 behaviours is therefore labelled to be more enviro­nme­ntally friendly than a person adopting only three of these behavi­ours. But this may not be a valid conclusion if those three behaviours have a more signif­icant enviro­nmental impact.

Internet and envi psych

1980s - inc in tech, www (inter­net), computers
establ­ished high speed digital comm networks, easing constr­aints of physical dist and time
plays a vital role in climate change mitigation
internet of things (IoT) sheds light onto this dilemma - monitor behavior with real time feedback
Role of envi psych wrt internet:
Psycho­logical factors
how factors like color schemes, visual elements, and user interface design impact emotions, user engage­ment, and task perfor­mance
Online comm
study its effects, impact on self and social exns
Cognitive factors (info overload)
nvesti­gates the cognitive conseq­uences of excessive online inform­ation, such as reduced attention span, decisi­on-­making challe­nges, and the ability to filter and process inform­ation effect­ively


Internal validity
extent of establ­ishing cause and effect rxn, proving the hypoth­esis, used in theory building.
External validity
extent to which the study can be genera­lized, used in problem solving, applied psych.

Research methods

Questi­onnaire studies
describe behaviours and to gather people’s perception and beliefs abt issues, high EV, low IV (can show correl­ation, not causality)
Laboratory exp
conducted in a contro­lled, mostly artificial envi created for research; low EV, high IV (can prove causality -through manipu­lation of variables + random asg)
Stimul­ation studies
realistic visual­ization that replicate real-life envi, useful for futuristic studies and complex envi systems (lands­lide, etc), good IV and EV
Field studies
observe, interact and understand people while they are in a natural envi, can manipulate variables (placing a bin on road), high EV, good IV, diff to contol extraneous vvariables
Case studies
in-depth study of a particular indiv, grp of indiv, situation etc. explor­atory qualit­ative study, high IV, low EV, no objective truth

Role of psycho­logist in climate change

designing mitigation strategies
Unders­tanding what people currently believe and know about climate change

focus on dec personal and collective carbon emissions

identi­fying barriers of behav change

emphasis on why and how of actions, rather than just facili­tating 'what'.
role in adaptation measures
required for the levels of climate change which are already projected as inevitable
resolving so-called ‘envir­onm­ental conflicts’ where groups and states compete
downstream interv­entions – may not be sufficient to generate sustained behaviour change
only psych theory
engage in upstream interv­entions (i.e. structural changes) - social organi­sation (e.g. community groups), the political and economic enviro­nment (e.g. legisl­ation and taxes), physical infras­tru­cture (e.g. new bus routes or protected cycle routes)

helping to make low-carbon techno­logies more attractive and user-f­riendly
psycho­logical theory on internal constr­aints on the indiv + economic theory about external constr­aints


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