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The paradox of environmental psychology

Abstract

Scientific and applied contributions of environmental psychology are examined in relation to 6 trends that have occurred in this field over the past 3 decades: (a) development of novel constructs and methods for analyzing the links between environment and behavior; (b) increased emphases on cross-paradigm research, (c) transactional models of environment and behavior, and (d) group-environment relationships; (e) expanded application of environment-behavior research to community problem solving; and (f) broadened international scope of the field. A paradoxical feature of environmental psychology is that its identity as a distinct area of study has become more diffuse and transparent, even as psychologists have become increasingly interested in "core" contextual and environmental concerns. This diffusion of scientific identity is discussed in relation to environmental psychology's multidisciplinary and international scope and the incorporation of environmental-contextual perspectives into other areas of psychology and related disciplines. Directions for research and theory development are considered in light of several societal concerns, including global environmental change, the spread of violence at regional and international levels, impacts of new information technologies on work and family life, rising costs of health care delivery, and processes of societal aging.

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