Open to Master students in Psychology and students from Industrial Ecology and Governance of Sustainability (Leiden University), Architecture and Industrial Design (Delft University of Technology).
Many of the pressing issues that confront society involve social behaviour in relation to the environment. This is the domain of environmental psychology: The study of the ways in which people influence the environment and are, in turn, influenced by the environment, often without being aware of its profound impact.
After an introductory meeting to set the scene, each meeting will be devoted to one of six specific issues within environmental psychology. For example:
Going to Town. The world’s population is increasingly living in cities that continue to grow larger. This makes it really important to look at the psychological characteristics of city life. We will discuss the way people evaluate and react to the presence of large crowds and situations of high density, and how environmental alterations may improve well-being.
Taking a Break. We will not only look at the built environment and the technology that surround people in the 21th-century, but also at nature. People generally like nature, but why, and to what extent? What effects can be expected from exposure to natural environments?
Spatial Planning and Design. Housing and neighbourhood characteristics may strongly influence well-being and health. What are the relevant environmental, physical, and social characteristics, and how do these interact?
Acting Green. Environmental problems are, ultimately, problems of human behaviour. Individual behaviour with environmental consequences will be analysed from a social psychological perspective. Specific attention will be given to the difference between individual and collective interests (social dilemmas), which plays a role in a range of environmental issues, ranging from the number of parking spots in a neighbourhood to the greenhouse effect.
Sustainable Interventions. What psychological mechanisms drive environmentally relevant behaviour and how can interventions be designed to change behaviour in a pro-environmental sense?
Greening Corporations. Organizations have a major impact on environmental quality. Sustainability has become a familiar concept for organizations as a green corporate image is something that organizations now strive for and cherish. Psychological processes at an organizational level are different from those at the individual or household level. What do we know about these processes, and how can they be influenced?
The readings offer classic and current theories and research that will be discussed and integrated in the lectures. Note that themes are subject to change. The final program will be published in the syllabus that will be made available on Brightspace shortly before the start of the course. The course is taught in English.
At the end of the course, the student can:
understand the scope of the general domain of environmental psychology;
describe the main theories on environmental psychology as presented in the course;
identify the main research questions, methods, and outcomes of the studies presented in the course;
design specific interventions regarding environmental issues based on theories and research presented in the course;
relate specialized knowledge of environmental psychological theories to behaviour in social-environmental settings;
analyse problematic environmental behaviour using findings and insights from environmental psychology.
For the timetable of this course please refer to MyTimetable
Students must register themselves for all course components (lectures, tutorials and practicals) they wish to follow. You can register up to 5 days prior to the start of the course.
You must register for each exam in My Studymap at least 10 days before the exam date. You cannot take an exam without a valid registration in My Studymap. Carefully read all information about the procedures and deadlines for registering for courses and exams.
Exchange students and external guest students will be informed by the education administration about the current registration procedure.
Mode of instruction
The course consists of seven two-hour lectures that, depending on availability, may include presentations by guest speakers who will talk about their occupations and activities that are related to one of the six topics of environmental psychology discussed in the lecture series. This provides an impression of career perspectives in the domain of environmental psychology.
Weblectures will be made available shortly after the lecture.
A final written exam with open questions determines 100% of the grade. How and when an exam review will take place will be communicated on Brightspace after publication of the exam results.
The Institute of Psychology follows the policy of the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences to systematically check student papers for plagiarism with the help of software. All students are required to take and pass the Scientific Integrity Test with a score of 100% in order to learn about the practice of integrity in scientific writing. Students are given access to the quiz via a module on Brightspace. Disciplinary measures will be taken when fraud is detected. Students are expected to be familiar with and understand the implications of this fraud policy.
A full literature list will be made available via Blackboard shortly before the start of the course. Readings may be updated for the current course. Some examples from previous years are:
Bansal, P., & Roth, K. (2000). Why companies go green: A model of ecological responsiveness. Academy of Management Journal, 43(4), 717–736. https://doi.org/10.5465/1556363
Devlin, A. S., Andrade, C. C., & Carvalho, D. (2016). Qualities of inpatient hospital rooms: Patients’ perspectives. Health Environments Research & Design Journal, 9(3), 190–211. https://doi.org/10.1177/1937586715607052
Hardin, G. (1968). The tragedy of the commons. Science, 162(3859), 1243–1248. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.162.3859.1243
Kuo, F. E., & Sullivan, W. C. (2001). Aggression and violence in the inner city: Effects of environment via mental fatigue. Environment and Behavior, 33(4), 543–571. https://doi.org/10.1177/00139160121973124
Milgram, S. (1970). The experience of living in cities. Science, 167, 1461-1468. https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/science.167.3924.1461
Schultz, P. W. (2014). Strategies for promoting proenvironmental behavior. European Psychologist, 19, 107–117. https://doi.org/10.1027/1016-9040/a000163
Staats, H., & Groot, P. (2019). Seat choice in a crowded cafe: Effects of eye contact, distance, and anchoring. Frontiers in Psychology, 10: 331. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00331
Wohlwill, J. F. (1970). The emerging discipline of environmental psychology. American Psychologist, 25(4), 303–312. https://psycnet.apa.org/doi/10.1037/h0029448
Dr. Niels van Doesum firstname.lastname@example.org