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Chap 8 - Psychology and Life

Chap 8 - Psychology and Life

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Psychology 152
PSYPSYPSYPSYPSYCHOLOGCHOLOGCHOLOGCHOLOGCHOLOGY AND LIFEY AND LIFEY AND LIFEY AND LIFEY AND LIFE
IntroductionHuman-Environment Relationship
Different Views of the Human-Environment Relationship
The Bishnois and the Chipko Movement 
(Box 8.1)
Environmental Effects on Human Behaviour
Human Influence on the Environment NoisePollutionCrowdingNatural Disasters
Promoting Pro-environmental BehaviourPsychology and Social Concerns
Poverty and Discrimination Aggression, Violence, and Peace
Mahatma Gandhi on Non-violence : Why Does Non-violence Work 
(Box 8.2)HealthImpact of Television on Behaviour 
CONTENTS
Key TermsSummaryReview QuestionsProject Ideas WeblinksPedagogical Hints After reading this chapter, you would be able to:
understand how psychology can be applied to common problems in our lives,appreciate the relationship between human beings and the environment,analyse how pro-environmental behaviour helps to deal with environmental stressors,explain the causes and consequences of social problems from a psychological perspective,andlearn about the possible remedies of problems such as poverty, aggression, and health.
 
Chapter 8 
Psychology and Life 
153
H
UMAN
-E
NVIRONMENT
R
ELATIONSHIP
 Take a moment and try to answer thesequestions : Can a tree be your ‘best friend’? When it gets hot, or when it is crowded,do people become more aggressive? If riversare said to be holy, why do people makethem dirty? How can one remedy thetraumatic effects of a natural disaster suchas an earthquake or tsunami, or of a man-made disaster such as a poisonous gasleak in a factory? Compare two children who grow up in different physicalenvironments, one in an environment filled with colourful toys, pictures and books,and the other in an environment that contains only the bare necessities of life. Will the two children develop the samekind of cognitive skills? People might givedifferent answers to these questions.
In the previous two chapters, you read about some topics related to social behaviour and groups. We will now reflect on a set of social concerns with a wider scope, which are linked to each other and involve psychological aspects. These issues have to be understood and resolved at the level of the community rather than the individual. It is now known that besides affecting our physical health, the environment also influences our  psychological processes and behaviour. Human beings also influence the environment through their behaviour, and some of these effects are demonstrated in stress-producing environmental conditions, such as noise, pollution and crowding. At the same time, environmental stressors such as natural disasters are not under human control. Many damaging environmental effects can be reduced with the help of environment-friendly behaviour and a state of preparedness. You will read about the causes and consequences of some social problems such as aggression and violence,health, and poverty and discrimination. You will also get a glimpse of how  poverty and deprivation can make people victims of discrimination and social exclusion. An environment of poverty and deprivation has far-reaching implications for developing human potential, social harmony and mental health. Some ways of reducing poverty are also described. In addition, psychological aspects of health, and the impact of television viewing on violence as well as other forms of behaviour are explained. This chapter will show you how psychological understanding can be applied practically to aspects such as pro-environmental behaviour, the reduction of violence and discrimination, and promotion of positive health attitudes.
Introduction
A common idea that comes out of thesequestions is that the relationship betweenhuman behaviour and the environment plays a special role in our lives. Thesedays, there is a growing awareness that environmental problems such as noise,air, water and soil pollution, andunsatisfactory ways of garbage disposalhave damaging effects on physical health.Less known is the fact that these forms of pollution, along with many other hiddenfactors in the environment, influencepsychological health and functioning as well. A branch of psychology called
environmental psychology
deals with various psychological issues pertaining tothe human-environment interaction in a  very broad sense of the term.The word ‘
environment
’ refers to allthat is around us, literally everything that 
 
Psychology 154
surrounds us, including the physical,social, work, and cultural environment. Ingeneral, it includes all the forces outsidehuman beings to which they respond insome way. In the present section, thediscussion will centre around the physicalenvironment. ‘
Ecology
’ is the study of therelationships between living beings andtheir environment. In psychology, the focusis on the interdependence betweenthe environment and people, as theenvironment becomes meaningful withreference to the human beings who live init. In this context, a distinction can bemade between the
natural environment
and the
 built environment
. As the nameitself suggests, that part of nature whichremains untouched by human hand is thenatural environment. On the other hand, whatever has been created by human beings within the natural environment isthe built environment. Cities, houses,offices, factories, bridges, shopping malls,railway tracks, roads, dams, and evenartificially created parks and ponds aresome examples of the built environment  which show how human beings have madechanges in the environment given by nature.The built environment usually involvesthe concept of 
environmental design
. The idea of ‘design’ contains somepsychological features, such as :The creativity of the human mind, asexpressed in the work of architects,town planners and civil engineers.The sense of human control over thenatural environment, as shown in the building of dams to regulate the naturalflow of rivers.The influence on the kind of socialinteraction that takes place in thedesigned environment. This feature isreflected, for instance, in the distance between houses in a colony, thelocation of rooms within a home, or inthe arrangement of work desks andseats in an office for formal andinformal gatherings.
Different Views of the Human-Environment Relationship
 There is more than one way of looking at the human-environment relationship,depending largely on how this relationshipis perceived by human beings. A psychologist named Stokols (1990)describes three approaches that may beadopted to describe the human-environment relationship.(a)The
minimalist perspective
assumesthat the physical environment hasminimal or negligible influence onhuman behaviour, health and well- being. The physical environment andhuman beings exist as parallelcomponents.(b)The
instrumental perspective
suggests that the physical environment exists mainly for use by human beingsfor their comfort and well-being. Most of the human influences on theenvironment reflect the instrumentalperspective.(c)The
spiritual perspective
refers to the view of the environment as somethingto be respected and valued rather thanexploited. It implies that human beingsrecognise the interdependent relation-ship between themselves and theenvironment, i.e. human beings willexist and will be happy only as long asthe environment is kept healthy andnatural. The traditional Indian view about theenvironment supports the spiritualperspective. We have at least two examplesof this perspective in our country, viz. thecustoms of the Bishnoi community of Rajasthan, and the
Chipko 
movement inthe Uttarakhand region (see Box 8.1). By contrast, we also find examples of peopledamaging or destroying the environment,

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