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Environmental Psychology

Overview

  • Type: Elective
  • Goal: Understanding the relation between people and their environment from a psychological perspective.
  • Final grade: 8
  • Competencies: US | DRP | MDC

Key learning points

1. Learning the origin, scope and structure of the discipline of environmental psychology.
2. Applying methods to do environmental research.
3. Relation between design and environmental psychology.

Deliverables

Assignment 1

Assignment 2

Explanation

This elective was on the relation between people and their environment from a psychological perspective. First, we were asked to write an essay containing a critical analysis and comparison of two theories in environment-behavior research. Second, we applied these theories in setting up and conducting field research to answer the question: How is the neighborhood Woenselse Heide West being used and what are important features for the residents?

Reflection

The first challenge was to read and master the weekly literature, as I was not familiar with the discipline of environmental psychology and the terminology that comes with it, especially with classic literature. Therefore, it took me some time to comprehend the work and to be able to have a critical view on it. The relation between people and their surroundings was completely dissected in this course, which was very new to me. For example, it was explained that behavior can be seen as the function of person and environment: B = F ( P, E ); and there are different variations of this formula to explain this exact relationship.


During the second part of the elective we were required to setup and conduct a field study, applying a variety of methods known to environmental research. For example, we performed a behavior mapping study by making observations in the neighborhood, for which we also prepared a protocol and coding scheme. Moreover, a photo sorting study was performed in which we asked residents to evaluate and rank 50 photos from the most negative to the most positive scenes, which was analyzed by the Q methodology. For me these two methods were entirely new and I found it very interesting to experience them and to see how the quantitative and qualitative components complimented each other.


This elective allowed me to put my own discipline in perspective with another. I choose this elective of the Human Technology Interaction Master program as I wanted to obtain more background in the psychology behind environment and behavior and I was curious how it could compliment my expertise on design research. From a design perspective, I believe in the strength of physical objects around us, as they can in contrary to digital devices easily integrate in everyday life. Mobile phones can often be obtrusive, whereas not necessarily relevant, in contrary to your surroundings which can be perceived in the periphery. We can learn from environmental psychology as the way we interact with the environment can be used to improve the way we interact with mobile phones. And even if the digital environment evolves, and more of our experiences happen in the digital environment, the physical surroundings will always exist around us, whether we like it or not.