How Environmental Psychology can enrich your Psychology classes Dr. Georjeanna Wilson-Doenges Chair, Psychology Department UW-Green Bay
5 Principles of Environmental Psychology • Capable of improving the physical environment (applied) • Carried out in everyday settings • Considers person and setting as a holistic entity – social ecology • Recognizes that people actively cope with and shape settings rather than just absorb them • Interdisciplinary
Consequences of Indoor Lifestyles • Insomnia and chronic fatigue • Depression – S.A.D. • Bone disorders • Fertility Problems, PMS, Irregular cycles • Obesity and other food related illnesses • Increase cancer risk • Stress
Research and Theory:Restorative Environments • Nature has been shown to provide opportunities for renewal of cognitive resources and psycho-physiological response capabilities.
People perceive nature as restorative and prefer natural environments • Recent nationwide survey (Frerichs, 2004) showed 95% believe that a visit to nature relieves stress. • Motives for recreating outdoors include stress reduction, clearing the head, escape from civilization, and reflection on the important things in life. • People perceive nature as more beautiful and prefer it to the built environment.
Nature is Restorative • More than 20 recent studies have concluded that exposure to nature (either passive viewing or active entry) is restorative • Attention Restoration Theory (ART) (e.g., Bagot, 2004; Berto, 2005; Lepore & Evans, 1996) • Directed attention fatigue = decreased concentration, increased irritability and stress • Nature restores by holding attention effortlessly (evolutionary history) and having high compatibility • Psycho-physiological stress recovery (Hartig, et. al., 2003) • After attention fatigue, nature (both brief views and walking) restores blood pressure to normal levels
Stress, Health and Restoration • Ulrich’s (1984) surgical patient study found patients with a view of nature: • required less pain meds • were hospitalized 1 day less on average • received fewer negative evaluations from the nursing staff. • Replicated with pictures of nature versus abstract art
Benefits of Residential Green Space • Ineffective stress recovery may undermine physical health • Urbanites without exposure to nature may display more symptoms of chronic stress. • Residents with abundant green space close and somewhat close (1-3 km) to home report fewer health problems (Maas, 2006). • Presence of green space promotes exercise, social contacts, better air quality and less noise.