Environmental Psychology - PPD151 / PSYBEH171S / PUBHLTH151
by Professor Daniel Stokols
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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.
|1||VideoLecture 01 – Introduction to Environmental Psychology and Overview of the Course||This lecture provides an introductory overview of major topics that have been investigated in the field of environmental psychology. Environmental psychology is broadly defined as the study of people’s relationships with their everyday social and physical surroundings. People’s everyday environments include their homes, neighborhoods, classrooms, workplaces, health care settings, community public spaces, as well as more remote regional and global influences on their lives. These environments encompass both built (or human-designed) and natural elements, and in many instances, both place-based and virtual features. Among the research topics discussed in this lecture are the behavioral and health effects of “tight spaces” and dysfunctional architecture, urban stressors (including high levels of noise, population density, and traffic congestion), and the restorative capacity of natural environments to reduce psychological and physiological stress. Also examined are key processes that affect individuals’ and groups’ responses to their surroundings—for example, their spatial cognition, environmental personalization and territorial behavior, personal space, privacy regulation, information overload and “continuous partial attention”. Finally, the interdependence between global environmental conditions and people’s experiences of their local place-based environments is discussed.||4/3/2012||Free||View in iTunes|
|2||VideoLecture 02 – Applying Principles of Environmental Psychology to the Analysis and Resolution of Community Problems||This lecture focuses on a contemporary societal problem, the obesity epidemic in the US and other countries, to illustrate how certain core principles of environmental psychology—including ecological and interdisciplinary analyses of people’s relations with their surroundings, can be applied to better understand complex social and environmental problems. Multiple environmental contributors to the obesity crisis in the US are discussed. Some of these etiologic factors are rooted in the design of our physical environments whereas others reside in the power of social networks to influence our behavior and well-being. In keeping with the action research orientation of environmental psychology, ecological and interdisciplinary analyses of contributors to the obesity crisis provide a foundation for establishing evidence-based public policies and community interventions to improve environmental quality and public health.||4/5/2012||Free||View in iTunes|
|3||VideoLecture 03 – Historical Origins and Major Assumptions of the Ecological Paradigm||This lecture outlines the development and core assumptions of the ecological paradigm as it has evolved in the fields of biology, sociology, psychology, and public health. The Chicago School of Human Ecology is described and contrasted with broader-gauged analyses of human ecosystems including the Sociocultural School of Human Ecology and more recent conceptualizations of Social Ecology. The Chicago School, based largely on biological and economic principles, neglected the role of psychological, cultural, architectural, and regulatory influences on peoples’ relations with their environments. The fields of social ecology and environmental psychology give greater attention to the interplay among these diverse factors, and to considerations of environmental justice and equitable access of all community members to healthful surroundings.||4/10/2012||Free||View in iTunes|
|4||VideoLecture 04 – Principles of Systems Theory, Physiological and Psychological Stress||This lecture provides an overview of systems theory and the concepts of physiological and psychological stress. As discussed in earlier lectures, the ecological paradigm and systems theory developed in response to narrower, deterministic explanations of environmental influences on human behavior and well-being. In ecological systems analyses, the degree of fit or congruence achieved by people and their surroundings depends on a variety of context-specific circumstances, such as spatial arrangements and staffing levels of behavior settings, personality orientations, social and cultural norms. When the levels of fit between people and their surroundings are low, physiological and psychological stress can arise—for example, in highly demanding or constraining environments. Examples of systems processes are presented at different levels of analysis ranging from individuals, small groups, and entire populations. The distinction between deviation-countering and deviation-amplifying systems is also discussed.||4/12/2012||Free||View in iTunes|
|5||VideoLecture 05 – Environmental Cognition||This lecture focuses on mental processes by which individuals form spatial memories, or cognitive maps, of their physical and social environments. The distinction between individuals’ perceptions of discrete objects as compared to their interpretations and memories of their large-scale, socio-physical surroundings (e.g., neighborhoods, workplaces, public spaces) is discussed. Key features of physical environments that people use to form cognitive maps of their spatial surroundings include paths or transit routes; geographic districts and their boundaries or edges; nodes (gathering places); and landmarks (major points of interest). Urban planners’ arrangement and combination of these elements contribute to the overall imageability (capacity to evoke strong place memories) and legibility (clarity and coherence) of environments. At the same time, the social and cultural meanings that become associated with some environments (such as historical, religious, and commemorative sites) contribute to their social imagability, as distinct from their physical imagability. The physical imagability of environments depends more on their architectural and natural features than on the sociocultural meanings associated with certain places.||4/17/2012||Free||View in iTunes|
|6||VideoLecture 06 – Environment and Personality||Personality is defined as a relatively stable set of personal attributes that characterize an individual and are observable by others across a variety of situations and settings. This lecture examines several different facets of the relationship between individuals’ personality and their socio-physical surroundings including: (1) the ways in which personal traits influence people’s interpretations of and reactions to particular places; and the (2) the distinctive qualities or ambiance of places that exert strong influence on the development of individuals’ personality characteristics, as well as their place identity or emotional identification with certain environments. Also explored are the ways in which particular personality traits such as sensation-seeking tendency, sense of coherence, and psychological hardiness mediate the effects of individuals’ exposure to particular places and events on their behavior, cognition, emotional and physical well-being.||4/19/2012||Free||View in iTunes|
|7||VideoLecture 07 – Environmental Evaluation||This lecture focuses on environmental attitudes, people’s tendencies to respond favorably or unfavorably to their surroundings through their emotions, beliefs, and behavior—and environmental assessment, or the systematic evaluation of people’s reactions to their present surroundings as well as their preferences about the shape of future environments. The lecture opens with several examples of how music is used to express evaluative sentiments about particular places and more general environmental features such as wilderness and nature. Also, examples of how environmental assessments can be used to bridge the communications gap between land developers, facilities designers, and the eventual occupants or users of particular settings is highlighted. Two phases of environmental assessment, pre-design and post-occupancy evaluation (PDE and POE), are illustrated with examples of environmental simulation techniques, behavioral mapping, analyses of physical traces, and diagnostic walk-throughs of existing environments to assess users’ reactions to them.||4/24/2012||Free||View in iTunes|
|8||VideoLecture 08 – Human Spatial Behavior||This lecture explores the topic of proxemics, or the ways in which people use space in their day-to-day interactions with others. Four core processes of human spatial behavior are privacy, personal space, territoriality, and crowding. Examples of these processes and the ways they work together as part of a dynamic system to regulate individuals’ privacy needs are discussed. Cultural differences in people’s use of personal space and territoriality are illustrated. Also, distinctions between the physical conditions of spatial and social density as compared to the motivational state of crowding stress are noted. Finally, key differences between human and non-human territorial behavior also are described, as well as various types of human territories including primary, secondary, and public spaces.||4/26/2012||Free||View in iTunes|
|9||VideoLecture 09 – Promoting Environmentally Protective Behavior||Certain behaviors enacted by individuals and groups (for instance, deciding whether or not to conserve energy or recycle resources) have a profound impact on the environmental quality and healthfulness of our physical surroundings. This lecture highlights the vital role of natural capital (such as nutrient-rich soils and unpolluted waterways) in generating a variety ecosystem services such as the production of food, energy, and pharmaceuticals. Important demographic and environmental trends are discussed, including the rapid growth of the world’s human population from the 1900s onward (especially in developing countries), the depletion of the earth’s atmospheric ozone layer, the “greenhouse effect” and global warming. Alternative strategies for promoting environmentally protective behavior are considered, including the provision of financial incentives, behavioral feedback, and the activation of social norms that encourage sustainability and resource conservation. The importance of encouraging high-leverage behaviors that reduce energy consumption or improve the efficiency of its use is emphasized.||5/1/2012||Free||View in iTunes|
|10||VideoLecture 10 – Responding to the Environment||Environments provide their occupants with both opportunities and constraints. Most environmental situations present a mix of opportunities and constraints. For instance, residents of large cities have access to numerous recreational and cultural resources, yet they are also confronted by inconveniences associated with population density, traffic congestion, and noise. People’s behavioral, emotional, and physiological responses to their surroundings depend on how they construe environmental opportunities and constraints. Both acute and chronic exposure to environmental constraints can trigger physiological and psychological stress. This lecture examines a variety of environmental stressors and their effects on behavior and health, including high ambient temperatures, population density, traffic congestion, aircraft noise, overtime work loads, poverty, as well as natural and technological disasters. Psychological and interpersonal processes that exert strong influences on people’s responses to environmental demands are discussed, including perceived environmental controllability, learned helplessness, attentional overload, and social support.||5/3/2012||Free||View in iTunes|
|11||VideoLecture 11 – The Influence of Environmental Design on Social Interaction||This lecture examines several different ways in which designed environments such as buildings, neighborhoods, and urban regions, influence the patterns and quality of people’s social interactions. For instance, the physical design of dormitories, apartment buildings, and city streets can facilitate or hinder the development of residents’ social relationships by influencing their activity patterns and their perceptions of defensible space, neighborhood walkability and safety. Environmental design strategies that have been used to enhance defensible space in residential areas, the walkability of urban neighborhoods, and levels of pedestrian safety are illustrated with examples drawn from various communities and environmental contexts.||5/8/2012||Free||View in iTunes|
|12||VideoLecture 12 - Applying Environmental Psychology Principles to Urban Design||This lecture recaps several environmental psychology concepts and empirical research findings covered in prior lectures, and illustrates their usefulness as a basis for developing evidence-based guidelines for urban design. Several diverse and sometimes contrasting philosophical perspectives on urban design are discussed, including the perspectives of both anti-density (decentrist) designers (such as Frank Lloyd Wright and Ebenezer Howard) and pro-density (centrist) designers (such as Le Corbusier, Soleri, and Kenzo Tange). Jane Jacobs’ analysis of factors that contribute to highly vibrant, interesting, and safe urban neighborhoods is considered, along with studies of design features that enhance or diminish the human scale of buildings, neighborhoods, cities and towns. Closely related to these perspectives are Oldenburg’s typology of first, second, and third places and William Whyte’s research on design factors that contribute to the effectiveness and attractiveness of urban public spaces, also summarized in this lecture.||5/15/2012||Free||View in iTunes|
|13||VideoLecture 13 - Design Guidelines for Homes, Offices, Classrooms, and Hospitals||The preceding lecture focused on developing research-based guidelines for creating effective public spaces and urban designs. The present lecture extends that discussion by examining evidence-based guidelines for enhancing the effectiveness of specific places and facilities such as mixed-use streetscapes, offices, homes, classrooms, concert halls, and health care facilities. Design guidelines drawn from Christopher Alexander’s A Pattern Language, including the provision of intimacy gradients, ample natural lighting and window views of nature are illustrated in the context of residential and work environments. Also, complexities inherent in the specification and implementation of research-based design guidelines are discussed, including the fact that diverse occupant groups who use the same settings (e.g., hospitals, educational environments) often have dissimilar and sometimes conflicting environmental preferences and needs. Finally, we consider Richard Florida’s research on the environmental preferences of creative individuals who are drawn to places that are culturally diverse, technologically advanced, and tolerant of alternative as well as traditional lifestyles.||5/22/2012||Free||View in iTunes|
|14||VideoLecture 14 – Design Guidelines for Residential Neighborhoods and Planned Communities||This lecture traces the rapid growth of mass-produced, American suburban housing developments (such as Levittown, Pennsylvania) following World War II, and the subsequent emergence of planned communities in the U.S. during the 1960s and Seventies, exemplified by Columbia, Maryland, Reston, Virginia, and Irvine, California. The translation of environmental psychology concepts and findings into design guidelines for creating successful residential neighborhoods is illustrated through examples drawn from several American new towns and planned communities. For instance, strategies of crime prevention through environmental design (CPTED) and for protecting residential neighborhoods from excessive automobile traffic are discussed.||5/24/2012||Free||View in iTunes|
|15||VideoLecture 15 – Natural Environments and Restorative Settings||Individuals’ participation in natural environments such as wilderness areas and parklands, as well as their proximity to nearby nature in residential, health care and community environments, have a profound influence on their psychological and physical well-being. This lecture examines the findings from recent research on the relationships between people’s exposure to nature and their mental and physical health. The distinction between spontaneous and directed attention, and the capacity of the former to restore the latter when one’s attentional reserves are depleted, is highlighted. Also, defining properties of restorative environments—i.e., those that enhance individuals’ attentional capacity and reduce their experiences of stress—are discussed. The palliative influence of residents’ exposure to nearby nature on family violence, neighborhood crime, and community health disparities is noted. Finally, examples of alternative pathways toward attentional restoration afforded by designed environments, including individuals’ exposure to certain built and urban settings such as art museums, aesthetically attractive buildings and interior décor, are presented.||5/29/2012||Free||View in iTunes|
|16||VideoLecture 16 – Virtual Environments - The Environmental Psychology of the Internet||People’s reliance on mobile communications and Internet technologies has increased dramatically since the 1990s. Today, there are nearly 5.5 billion cell phone users and two billion Internet users in the world. The explosive growth of digital information and communications have altered the structure of human environments and have had profound impacts on people’s behavior and well-being. This lecture examines the growing interdependence between our place-based and virtual environments and social relationships. The impacts of mobile communication and Internet technologies on a wide range of environments and institutions are examined, including neighborhoods, workplaces, and universities. The environmental psychology of virtual communities and behavior settings is illustrated through several examples drawn from Second Life, World of Warcraft, Facebook, and eBay. Also, the growing Digital Divide between information-poor and information-rich segments of the world’s population is discussed.||5/31/2012||Free||View in iTunes|
|17||VideoLecture 17 – Social Structural Approaches to Environmental Change||Viewing human environments as sociophysical systems means that the qualities of our environments and their impacts on behavior and health can be changed by altering their physical or social structures. Illustrative cases in which specific architectural or social features of behavior settings were modified to improve occupants’ emotional and physical well-being are presented. The proliferation of virtual behavior settings in recent years poses new challenges for maintaining complementarity (and avoiding conflict) between virtual communities and the place-based environments from which they are accessed via computer or mobile device. Finally, strategies for combining a community’s material assets (e.g., its economic, natural, technological capital) and its human resources (e.g., social, human, moral capital) to improve population health are discussed.||6/7/2012||Free||View in iTunes|
|18||VideoLecture 18 – Evaluating Environmental Interventions||Throughout this course, we have emphasized the importance of systematically evaluating the effects of sociophysical environments on people’s behavior and health; and the efficacy of social and environmental policies and programs in fostering higher levels of mental and physical well-being in a population. Rigorous evaluations of public policies and environmental interventions provide an empirical foundation for developing evidence-based design guidelines to help ensure that future environments will be as congruent as possible with users’ needs. A number different methods and examples of environmental evaluation are presented, including laboratory experiments, observational studies, and quasi-experimental research. Also, several important criteria for evaluating the costs and benefits of environmental programs and policies are discussed, including scientific rigor (e.g., internal, external, construct, ecological validity) and social validity (e.g., cost effectiveness, feasibility, scope of impact of an intervention, and its avoidance of unintended negative side effects in the population).||6/7/2012||Free||View in iTunes|
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Interesting content; huge file size. Streaming a couple lectures directly through the iTunes U app on my phone ended up blowing my month's data allotment in short order. Try downloading and syncing instead.
Natural Resource Professionals
I have a natural resource background and operate a consulting business to help communities incorporate plant ecosystems in their growth and development process. I watched all lectures over a several week period because of my interest in learning how natural resources (e.g. trees, plants) improve quality of life in cities, neighborhoods, and residences. Though this course had little on ecological value of our urabn environments, it did provide some very helpful insights into how people are psychologically impacted by their surroundings.