What do environmental psychologists do

Major: Environmental Psychology

If you are interested in studying psychology and find out more about it, you will find that psychology consists of many sub-subjects. In the course of the bachelor's and master's degree, you can set your own priorities and study the areas that interest you most in depth. In this article we introduce you to the focus on environmental psychology.

Definition of environmental psychology

As a sub-discipline of psychology, environmental psychology (also: ecological psychology) deals with Questions about the relationship between humans and the environment.

The influences of the environment on humans, but also how humans themselves influence the environment, are researched. The environment can be understood as the external, physical-material world, which also includes socio-cultural elements. This means that the environment not only means the natural environment, but also the environment created by humans. These man-made environments are, for example, buildings, environments for learning and working, and the worlds of communication and information.

The psychologist Willy Hellpach formulated three human environments: the social, the cultural and the natural environment are all included in environmental psychology. The interactions between humans and the environment should not only be researched - the application of the research results is also crucial.

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Topics and subject of investigation in environmental psychology

Environmental psychology is still a very young discipline and is characterized by a high degree of interdisciplinarity. So environmental psychological issues also include Aspects of globalization and sustainable development and thus have links to political science.

There is also close collaboration between environmental psychologists, sociologists, natural scientists and economists. In its work, environmental psychology draws on existing theories and models of other psychological sub-disciplines: For example, when it comes to the question of sustainable environmentally conscious action, the theory of sensible action by Fishbein and Ajzen (1975), which comes from social psychology, is used.

But there are also specific environmental psychological theories: Fietkau and Kessel developed a model for environmental action that connects attitudes, values ​​and knowledge of environmentally conscious action with actual actions.

An important topic within ecological psychology is that environmental Protection and the related questions about the actions of people who act against their better knowledge against the natural environment.

Important questions in environmental psychology

Environmental psychologists aim to improve environmental awareness and encourage environmentally sound behavior. How can people be encouraged to act and consume in an environmentally conscious way that protects nature and the socio-cultural environment?

Further research questions deal with the relationship between stimulus sizes and sensory sensations and the stress on mental health from overstimulation. The question of the extent to which the built environment, the social climate and living conditions promote and condition crime is also an object of research.

Environmental psychologists also turn to special environments such as the hospital: How can the clinical setting be designed in such a way that it supports the patient's well-being? Other questions include, for example, what understanding of nature do people have and how do they encounter it? Why is it that, despite knowing about the threat to the natural environment, people destroy it?