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Environmental Psychology

by UC Irvine

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Course Description

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.

This course is offered by the School of Social Ecology and cross-listed with the Program in Public Health.

Customer Reviews

Engaging, insightful, and interdisciplinary

First I would like to deal with the content of the course. The interdisciplinary nature of the subject means that most folks are bound to find at least some component that they are drawn to. For me there was very little that I was uninterested in. I had never really thought about my surroundings too extensively so the course was majorly eye-opening. This course will definitely be of interest to everyone from psych nerds, to architect buffs, to environmentalists, or even the layman that has no idea what environmental psych is but nonetheless is curious to find out.

Before engaging with the course material I had little background knowledge of urban planning, social ecology, architecture or any of the other related fields. Even for someone like me, with little background in the field(s), this course was incredibly rewarding. Professor Stokols's love for the subject matter is evident and it's difficult to not be inspired to learn more. Mr. Stokols has opened my eyes to both several unrealized passions and fields that warrant further study. The course is a wonderful and broad introductory into many of the facets of environmental psych and many of the accompanying subfields. The clips interspersed throughout the course from Seinfeld, The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, and of his son are both entertaining and great illustrations of points being made.

My two issues with the course are largely my own and are to be expected of an introductory undergraduate course. First, there is a bit of redundancy. It is clear students have midterms and finals in mind so the class is oriented thusly. In an effort to drive home important test information there may be some repetition. My second issue would be that many topics are merely presented and there is little further discussion, but again that is to be expected in an undergraduate course. And besides, the course really is serving as a primer; anything you may find deserving more time is really just an invitation to learn more about a fascinating topic.

I can't recommend this course strongly enough!

Great for Seniors (age-wise)

My husband and I found Environmental Psych to be a stimulating course. We watched the lectures at the same time and it gave two Sr. Adults some stimulating conversations, while opening our eyes to our surroundings. I can also see practical applications in our own community as we serve in organizations, and also practically. See what a difference being in a hospital room after surgery with a view of trees can make. I also look at the news differently, architecture, politics, the culture of poverty…. and so much more.

Dr. Stokols has made what could be dry research very interesting. He is personable, easy to listen to, and so incredibly knowledgeable. We recommend it for any age group. He uses a lot of visuals to illustrate his points, not just a talking head. And no exams!!!


Really interesting stuff!

Environmental Psychology
View In iTunes

Customer Ratings