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.
Environmental psychology is the study of human behavior and well-being in relation to the large-scale, sociophysical environment. The term, large-scale environment, refers to places such as homes, offices, neighborhoods, and whole communities. These places can be described in terms of several physical and social dimensions, including their geographical location, architectural design, membership and social organization. The term, sociophysical environment, reflects the assumption that the physical and social dimensions of places are closely intertwined. The architectural design of a housing complex, for example, can exert a subtle but substantial impact on the friendship patterns that develop among residents. This course emphasizes the interdependence between physical and social aspects of places, rather than viewing these dimensions as separate and isolated.