The study of psychology is complex, unique, diverse, and ever-changing. Psychology is defined as “the scientific investigation of mental processes and behavior” (Kowalski & Weston, 2009, p. 4). One of the many disciplines in the dynamic field of psychology is environmental psychology. As with all disciplines of psychology, environmental psychology has a variety of theoretical perspectives. Two such perspectives are evolutionary and behavioral. The following is an introduction to environmental psychology, a description of evolutionary and behavioral perspectives and their application in environmental psychology, as well as an examination of the importance of research ...view middle of the document...
All psychological disciplines have multiple theoretical perspectives and evolutionary psychology is not an exception. A variety of theoretical perspectives produces differing fundamental assumption; however, the application of multiple fundamental assumptions can be useful in generating a deeper understanding of the human relationship to nature.
The evolutionary perspective derives from Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection. Natural selection describes the mechanism by which natural forces select traits in organisms that are adaptive in their environmental niche (Kowalski & Weston, 2009). The evolutionary perspective seeks to study and prove that behavior tendencies are evolved tendencies that helped our ancestors survive and reproduce. Traditional methods of study used by evolutionary psychologists are deductive and comparative research.
Environmental psychologists influenced by the evolutionary perspective believe development is shaped by neurobiological mechanisms designed to detect and respond to survival related elements in differing environments (Ellis et al., 2012). Additionally, these responses function adaptively to match the environment therefore stressful environments do not disturb development but rather directs adaptation (Ellis et al., 2012). Environmental psychology seeks to identify both the stressors and the adaptation strategies.
The behaviorist perspective focuses on how behavior is controlled or shaped by environmental factors (Kowalski & Weston, 2009). B.F. Skinner is credited with developing behaviorism into a perspective but the origins of behaviorism can be traced back to Ivan Pavlov. Pavlov discovered that his dogs would salivate upon hearing a noise related to mealtime even if the food was not present. He concluded that this behavior was a learned response (Kowalski & Weston, 2009). Building from this theory, Skinner proposed that behavior can be understood as a learned response selected on the basis of observed consequences (Kowalski & Weston, 2009).
Evolutionary psychologists applying the behavioral perspective focus on individual experience in both physical environment and social context. Observations are then applied to examining how people experience nature (Clayton & Myers, 2009). The behaviorist approach can be used to examine how environment affects psychological ailments, and specific behavioral...