Environmental psychology

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This is a page providing background in a specific field of expertise

Environmental psychology[1] focuses on the interplay between society/social individuals and their (structural) surroundings. The term "environment" encompasses natural environment and built environment, but also social settings as well as learning and informational environments. Environmental psychology is both value and problem oriented and addresses the complexity of societal problems on the basis of human-environment interactions and the perception of environment.

Security-related aspects

  • Urban environment impacts social behaviour in a positive or negative way.
  • Security or resilience is determined by (urban) environment and the interactions with society/humans.

But:

  • Security or resilience cannot just be designed by way of planning.
  • Environmental/security/risk cognition cannot be designed.
  • The meaning intentionally embodied in built environment is not always decoded by citizens as intended.
  • The identification of “weak points”/insecurities in urban environments takes place in cultural context. [2] It is socially negotiated and/or constructed.

Approaches how to address it

  • Consider interactions between (urban) environment and social behaviour/reactions.
  • Consider local/regional security culture in planning projects.
  • Consider local/regional perception of (in)security/risks in planning projects.
  • Involve citizens in the planning process (see citizen participation).
  • Urban design should avoid stressful and potentially threatening feelings of being lost in large buildings.[3]
  • Urban design should “incorporate public meanings” and citizens’ images of places, including those of “secure” or “safe” places.[4]
  • Desire for security should not inform urban planning to contribute to threatening citizens’ rights of expression and dissent.[5]

Related subjects

Footnotes and references

  1. E.g. Nasar J. L.: Environmental Psychology and Urban Design, in: Banerjee T., Loukaitou-Sideris A. (eds.): Companion to Urban Design. London/New York: Routledge, 2011, 162-174.
  2. Falkheimer J., Mats H.: Multicultural Crisis Communication: Towards a Social Constructionist Perspective, in: Journal of Contingencies and Crisis Management 14, no. 4., 2006.
  3. Lynch K.: The Image of the City. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1960.
  4. Nasar J. L.: Environmental psychology and urban design, in: Banerjee T., Loukaitou-Sideris A. (eds.): Companion to Urban Design. London/New York: Routledge, 2011, 162-174, 166.
  5. Cf. Whitzman C.: Secure cities, in: Banerjee T., Loukaitou-Sideris A. (eds.): Companion to Urban Design. London/New York: Routledge, 2011, 670-671.