طراحی، اجرا، مشارکت در ساخت، مشاوره معماری ،دکوراسیون داخلی،مدیریت پروژه
Environrnent-Behavior Theories: Conceptualizirlg Our Interaction With the Environment

usually combine all the components into one theory, or the environmental stress model (e.y., 13Vlllll, Singel, & baum, 1981; 1E vans (1984)


Sometimes the term stress is restricted to environmental events, and    additional term, strain, is used to describe the consequence within the organism.. However, we will use stress to refer to the entire Stimulus-response Sit­uation, stressor" to refer to the t environmental component alone, and stress response to refer to the reaction caused by the environmental component .

As we will see, some- components of the arousal, environmental load, adaptation level, and behavior constraint approaches fit very well into an environmental stress framework. Over­load, for example, can be viewed as one conse­quence of coping with stress, and heightened arousal is certainly a component of stress. Simi­larly, an optimal level of stimulation (i.e., stimu­lation at the. adaptation level) should result in little evidence of a stress reaction, but, multiple constraints on behavior might be expected to lead to considerable signs of stress.

we will organize our discussion of stress under three subheadings. First, we will consider the characteristics of stressors, such as how long they last or how. often they occur. Since the de­gree to which these events actually cause, stress is dependent upon how they are -interpreted (i..e„ whether people notice them and decide t'. they might be harmful or aversive), we will also discuss the appraisal of stressors. Finally, the kinds of stress responses that occur (physio­logical reactions, , coping Strategies, aftereffects) will be considered.

Characteristics of Stressors

There are a number of ways we might classify stressors. Lazarus and Cohen (1977) have de­scribed three general categories of environmental stressors cataclysmic events, personal stressors ,and background stressors. These vary according to ,severity of impact as well as other dimensions; such as the ease Of the coping or adaptation process in response to them.

Cataclysmic Events Natural disasters, war, nuclear accident, or fires are unpredictable powerful threats that generally affect all of those touched by them. Such cataclysmic events are overwhelming stressors that have, several basic characteristics. They are usually sudden, giving little or no warning of theiroccurrence. Tthey have a powerful impact, elicit a more or less uni­versal response and  usually require a great deal of effort for effective coping. The accidents at Three Mile Island; and Chernobyl), the Mount Saint Helens eruption as well as the more common tornadoes, hurricanes, and other natural disasters (Adams & Adams, 1984; Baum, Fleming, 1953

) can all be considered in this category of stressors.

The powerful oncet of sudden cataclysmic events may initially evoke a freezing or dazed response by victims. Coping is difficult and may

bring no immediate relief. 'However, the se­verely threatening period of such an event usu­ally (but not always) ends quickly, and recovery begins. A tornado may strike for only a brief time, and other cataclysmic events flay be over in a few days. When the process is allowed to. proceed without a return of the stressor, re­building progresses and mg re or less complete recovery is generally achieved. In the case of Three Mile Island or Love Canal, where re­building is not what is needed (nothing was ac­tually destroyed), and the damage already done is less important than the damage that may yet come, recovery may be more difficult (baum, Fleming, & davidson, 1953).

One important feature Of ;cataclysmic events, which iS in some ways beneficial for the coping process, is that they affect a large number of people. Affiliation with others and comparing feelings and opinions with them have been identified as important styles of coping with such threats, since social support call moderate the effects of stressful conditions (e.;., Norris, 1996). Because people are able to share their distress with others under­going the same difficulties, some studies have suggested that cohesion results among these



When a stressor persists in an apparently unresolvable manner, problems of a different kind can arise-including learned helplessness.

Personal Stressors          A second group of stres­sors may be termed personal stressors. These include such events as illness, death of a loved one, or loss of one's job-events that are powerfull enough to, challenge adaptive abilities in the same way as cataclysmic events (e.g.,). Personal stressors generally affect fewer people at any one time than do cataclysmic events, and may or may not be ex­pected. Frequently, with persona stressors the point of severest impact occurs early, and cop­ing can progress once the worst is over, although this is not always the case. Often the magnitude, duration, and point of severest impact of cata­clysmic events and personal stressors, such as death and loss of a job, are similar. However, the relatively smaller number of people who exp6ril­ence a particular personal stressor at any c3ne time may be significant because there are fewer. others to serve as sources of social support. Also, a cataclysmic event such as a flood can re­sult in the loss of a loved one, loss of a job, or other personal stressors.

-Background Stressor,s        Less powerful; more

gradual, but more chronic and almost routine stressors are termed background stressors. Rotton (1990) prefers to divide background stressor's into two types. Daily hassles (or micro stressors ) are stable, low-intensity prob­lems encountered as part of one's routine (Laza­I't1S e t al., 1985; Zlka & Chamberlain, 1987), such as we described in the. opening para­graph of this chapter. Ambient stressors are "chronic, global conditions of the environment -pollution, noise, residential crowding, traffic congestion ill a general sense, repre­sent noxious Stimulation, and which, as stressor, place demand upon us to adapt or cope" (Campbell, 1983, p. 360. .

Pollution impact larger number of people, are chronic and mundane and are difficult to remove through the efforts of one individual. While many background stressors are mundane and of relatively low intensity, some may not even be noticeable, like certain instances of air pollution (e.g., Eva11S &- Jacobs, 1J81). any one or two background stressors may not be sufficient to cause great adaptive difficulty, but when a number occur together, they can exact a cost over time and may be as serious as cataclysmic events or personal stressors. Regular and pro­longed exposure to certain low-level background stressors may even require more adaptive responses in the long run than more intense stres­sors. For example,

long-term exposure to noise (Evans, Hygge, & Bullinger, 1995), neighbor­hood problems (White et al., 1987), and long ­term commuting stress (White & Rotton, 1998) can be quite problematic.

with background stressors, it is often diffi­cult to identify a point at which "the worst is over," and it may not be at all clear that things will get better. In fact, things may go from bad to worse. In addition, the benefits for coping or of having others who "share in the experience" may not be as great as for other types of stres­sors. This may be because the intensity of back­ground stressors is frequently so low as to never

raise the need for affiliation; or, alternatively, social support may not be appropriate in these sit­uations (cf. Campbell, 1983).


A given environmental event may or may not be a stressor in all circumstances, and in the same circumstances it may be a stressor to some in­dividuals and not to others. The probably of an event becoming stressful is determined by a number Of factors (EVa1I1S & COl1eI1, 1987), in­cluding the characteristics of the event and the way individuals appraise it. Thus, inorder for the stress process to begin.there must be cogni­tive appraisal of a stimulus as threatening. To

Environment-Behavior Theories: Conceptualizing Our Interaction With the Environment 119

use an environmental example, 90' F (332'c) to a native southerner is not likely to be very stressful, in midsummer. To someone living in Barrow, Alaska, however, the mere thought of experi­encing 90° F for a few hours a day may well be evaluated as threatening. In other words, the same stimulus that may not be stressful in one situation may be stressful in another-the stimulus has not changed, but the individuals ap­praisal of it as threatening or nonthreatening has changed. moreover ,cognitive appraisal that an aversive event, such as crowding, is pending is often sufficient to elicit a stress response, even though the physical event itself does not happen (e.g., Baltm & Greenberg, 1915).

lazarlis. (1966, 1998) suggests that this cognitive appraisal is a function of individual psychological   factors            (intellectual resources, knowledge of past experience, and motivation) and cognitive aspects of the specific stimulus situation (control over the stimulus, predictability of the stimulus, and immediacy or "time until impact" of the stimulus). The more knowledge one has about the beneficial aspects of a source of noise, or the more control one has over the noise (in terms of terminating or avoiding it), the less one is likely to evaluate that stimulus as threatening, and the less threatening the situa­tion is likely to be.

Types of Appraisal_ Cognitive appraisal of a situation is more complex than merely assessing its potential threat (see Baum et al., 1982, for a review). Several different types of appraisal are possible. harm or loss appraisals focus on damage that has already been done (Lazarus & Launier, 1978). For example, victims of a natu­ral or technological disaster could be expected to make harm /loss evaluations. In general, rapid loss of resources is associated with traumatic stress ( hobfoll , 19J1). In contrast, threat ap­praisals are concerned with future dangers. Environmental toxins such as pesticides may evoke perceived threat to one's health, and threat appraisals may precede exposure to them. Per­ceived threat, from and stress reaction to a chronic toxic hazard is likely to be worse than that associated with a quich-hitting flood (baum1993). The ability to anticipate potential difficulties allows us to prevent their occurrence but may cause us to experience anticipatory stress. It is hard to Say which is worse-seeing one's home destroyed in a hurricane (harm/loss) or not knowing how one will be sheltered from the elements until one can build a new home (threat). As this ex­ample suggests, threat and harm/loss appraisals usually go hand in hand (lazaruc). Challenge appraisals are different from others because they focus not on the harm or potential harm of an event, but on the possbility of overcoming the stressor. Some stressors may be beyond our coping ability, but we all have a range of events for which we are con­fident of our ability to cope successfully. Stres­sors that are evaluated as challenges fall within this hypothetical range (llienstbier,1989; Laza­nls & Launier, 1978; TOlllakil et ill., 1997).

Factors Affecting Appraisal a number of factors have been identified that affect our ap­praisals of environmental stressors. These in­clude the characteristics of the condition in question (e.g., bow loud z particular noise is); situational conditions (e.g., whether what we are doing is compatible with or inhibited by the potential stressor); individual differences; and environmental. Social , and psychological vari­ables. To cite but one example, the upper­middle-class resident of a large city may be less likely to experience difficulty as a result of ur­ban conditions than a poorer resident of the same city. Or, he or she may be better able to avoid the seamy side of the city and thus less likely to be exposed to aversive urban condi­tions. Attitudes toward the source of stress will also mediate responses; if we believe that a con­dition will cause no permanent harm, our re­sponse wiIl probably be less extreme than if it carries the threat of lasting harm. If our atti­tudes are strongly in favor of something that may also harm us, we may reappraise threats and make them seem less dangerous. For example, Elliott et al. (1997) describe how residents near a landfill in Ontario appraised it as less threatening over time.


120 CHAPTER 4         Theories of Environment-Behavior 5elationships

, We described the influence of perceived control when discussing the behavior constraint approach. Perceived control is also an important moderator_ of stress, providing a sense of being able to cope effectively; to predict events, and to determine what will happen. Giving research "participants information about a stressor prior to their exposure to it helps them to plan and predict what will happen. Such information increases perceived control and reduces the threat appraisal made when the stressor is ex­perienced. For example, the stress associated with surgery or aversive medical procedures can be reduced by providing patients with accurate expectations of what they will feel (e.g., Johnson & Leventhal, 1974). Other studies have found that accurate expectations about high levels of density reduce crowding stress (Baum, Fisher, & Solomon, 1981; Langer & Saegert, 1977).

Coping styles or behavior patterns also ap­pear to affect the ways in which events are appraised, as well as which types of coping are invoked. Work on a. number of these dimen­sions, such as repression-sensitization (the degree to which people think about a stressor), screening (a person's ability to ignore extra­neous stimuli or to prioritize demands), and denial (the degree to which people ignore or suppress awareness of problems), has indicated that people differing along these dimensions may interpret situations differently (e.g., Bell & Byrne, 1978; Collins, Baum, & Singer, 1983; Mehrabian, 1976-77). A study by Baum et al. (1982), for example, suggested that individuals who cope with overload by screening and prior­itizing demands are less susceptible to the ef­fects of, crowding than people who do not cope in this way.

Another moderator of stress appraisals may be social , support- the feeling that one is cared about and valued by other people, and that he or she belongs to a group. Many have long believed­ that interpersonal relationships can somehow protect us from many ills (e.g., Cohen & Wills, 1985; Jung, 1954, 33owever, the effects of hav­ing or not having social and emotional support have not always been clearly demonstrated (cf.

Ganelleii & Blaney, 1984; Hendrick, Wells, & Faletti, 1982). One possible reason is that those from crowded homes or other backgrounds of social distress may respond to others through withdrawal rather than attachment (Evans & Lepore, 1993).

Characteristics of the Stress Response

A distinction is often made between primary appraisal, which involves assessment of threat, and secondary appraisal, which involves as­sessment of coping strategies. Appraisals of stressors help determine responses to them. If an appraisal is "negative" and an event is seen as being dangerous, responses that prepare to cope will ensue. These stress responses in the whole body. Physiological changes are part of this response, most reflecting increased arousal. At the same time, emotional, psycho­logical, and behavioral changes may also occur as part of the stress response.

Physiological Response Part of the response to an aversive or stressful stimulus is automatic. Selye's (1956) general adaptation syndrome (GAS) consists of three stages: (1) the alarm re­action, (2) the stage of resistance. and (3) the stage of exhaustion. Initially, an alarm reaction to a stressor causes autonomic processes (heart rate, adrenalin secretion, and so on) to speed up. The second stage in the stress process, the stage of resistance, also begins with some au­tomatic mechanism for coning with the stressor. If heat is the stressor, sweating occurs; if ex­treme cold is the stressor, shivering may oc­cur. When these nomeostatic mechanisms do not restore equilibrium, signs of exhaustion or depleted reserves will be observed as an organ­ism enters the last of Selye's three stages,, the stage of exhaustion. The primary, ind1ants of this stage are ulcers, adrenal enlargement, and shrinkage of lymph and other glands that confer resistance to disease.

Some responses to environmental stress are virtually indistinguishable from those evoked by direct assault on body tissue by pathogens. Re-


Environment-Behavior Theories: Conceptualizing Our Interaction With the Environment F" 121

calling Selye's three-stage process, it appears that stress results in heightened secretion of corticosteroids during file alarm reaction, fol­lowed by a decline in reactivity (as measured by this secretion) through resistance and exhaus­tion. The catecholamines -dopamine, epi­nephrine (adrenalin), and norepinephrine-are also active in stress, along with emotional dis­tress (Arnsten, 1998).

Increased catecholamine and corticosteroid secretion is associated with a wide range of other physiological responses, such as changes in heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, muscle potential, inflammation, and other functions. In the brain, stress enhances the activity of an emo­tional center (the amygdala), making memories of emotional events stronger, and decreases the attention-focusing and organizing and planning operation of the frontal lobes (Arnsten, 1995).absence of these effects appear to be stronger in the .absence of perceived control.

These findings may also be viewed as con­sistent with pioneering work by Cannon (1929, 1931), who suggested that epinephrine has a positive effect on adaptation. Epinephrine pro­vides a biological advantage by arousing the or­ganism; thus enabling it to respond more rapidly to danger. When extremely frightened or en­raged, we experience an arousal that may be un­comfortable but that readies, us to act against the thing that scares or angers us. Thus, stress-­related increases in catecholamines may facili­ty     adaptive behavior.                  .

Some studies have shown superior perfor­mance on simple, well-learned tasks following stress reactions. On the other hand, arousal has been associated             with impaired performance on complex tasks. Decreases in problem-solving abilities, increases in general negativity, im­patience, irritability, feelings of worthlessness, and emotionality may all accompany a stress re­sponse, and emotional disturbances such as anx­iety or depression may occur (Arnsten, 1998; Evans et al., 1J95; Rotton et al., 1997).

Coping Strategies In the stage of resistance, many coping processes are also cognitive, so

that the individual must decide on a behavioral coping strategy. According to Lazarus (19G6, 1995), the coping strategy is a function of indi­vidual and situational factors and may consist of flight; physical or verbal attack, or some sort of compromise. Lack of success in the coping pro­cess may increase the tendency to evaluate the situation as threatening. For example, Faupel and Styles (1993) found that victims Of hurri­cane Hugo reported more stress if they had en­gaged in activities to prepare for the disaster; perhaps the experienced devastation in spite of preparation increased perceived threat. Associ­ated with this cognitive coping proess are any number of emotions, including anger and fear To use another example, the stress reaction to a large crowd in a city might consist of evalua­tion of the crowd as threatening, physiological arousal, fear, and flight to a less crowded area (Figure 4-5).                                       ,

Many ways_ of categorizing coping strate­gies have been developed (see Aldwill & Reven­son,1987). Two useful distinctions employed by Lazanls and his colleagues are (1) direct action or problem focused, such as information seek­ing, flight, or attempts to remove or stop the stress or; or (2) palliative or emotion focused, . such as employing psychological defense mech­anisms denial, , intellectualization, etc.), using drugs, meditating, or reassessing the situation as nonthreatening (see also Roth & Cohen, 1986). To the extent that direct action is not available or. practical- palliative strategies become more likely. Interestingly, a sense of humor helps people cope with many types of stress (martin & Lefcourt, 1983), as does viewing relaxing scenes of nature (e.g., Parsons et al., 1998).

Adaptation   As previously noted, if the cop­ing responses are not adequate for dealing with the stressor, and all coping energies have been expended, the organism will enter the third stage of the GAS, the stage of exhaustion. For­tunately, something else usually happens be­fore exhaustion occurs .in most situations, when an aversive stimulus is presented many times, the stress reaction to it becomes weaker and


122 CHAPTER 4            Theories of Environment-Behavior Relationships


Figure 4-5 The stress model.

weaker; Psychologically, this process is called adaptation. Adaptation to a stressor may occur because neurophysiological sensitivity to, the . stimulus becomes weaker, because uncertainty about the stressor is reduced, or because the stressor is cognitively appraised as less and less threatening.

Visitors to a polluted city, for example, ini­tially may suffer overt physiological symptoms, such as shortness of breath, and may express a great deal of fear about the potential health con­sequences of exposure to atmospheric pollu­tants. On successive days in the city, however, these visitors, realizing that they have not died yet, may "lose" the fear of breathing the air (see

Chapter 7). As another example, consider the stress that might build as one moves to a new office; all of the old emotional attachments, pro­ductive work habits, and spatial organization could be threatened. But even small improve­ments in the new office, such as increased light­ing or more privacy, may reduce the threat and stress associated with the move ( Spreckelmeyer, 1993).

Adaptation to stress is both beneficial mid costly. Almost all events in life, from birth, to at­tending school, to driving on freeways at rush hour, involve some degree of stress. Obviously; the individual who has been exposed to stress and has learned to handle it is better able to



124 CHAPTER 4            Theories of Environment-Behavior Relationships

arteries and other diseases- of the blood vessels (Schneidermau, 19829). Indeed, the relationship between stress and health is one that is of ever ­increasing interest in modern times (e.g., Ber­nard & Krupat, 1994).

Assessing the Stress Model

When we evaluate the effectiveness of using stress as a mediator for a theoretical approach in environmental psychology, we find that it does an admirable job with the data in its predictive domain. The stress approach does help predict many of the consequences of environmental de­terioration as well as the presence or absence of observable effects of such specific stressors as crowding and extremes of heat and cold. In this respect, the stress approach has a great deal of generalizability : It applies to many situations and accounts for the combined effects of many environmental and social stressors that are pre­sented at the same time (e.g., Levine, 1988). Perhaps for this reason the stress approach sug­gests many directions for new research. If we treat a given environmental event as a stressor, then we should be able to predict its effects, with or without the presence of other stressors, from our knowledge of the effects of other stres­sors. Furthermore, we should be able to use. present knowledge about coping with stress to help control reactions to unwanted environmen­tal stressors. On the other hand, one problem with using only the stress approach as a theoreti­cal inroad in environmental psychology is that the identification of stressors is somewhat am­biguous (e.g., Lazarus et al., 1955). For example, suppose we expose individuals to a particular stimulus and get no stress reaction. Should that stimulus be regarded as something other than a stressor, or did those particular individuals just not evaluate it as threatening under the experi­mental circumstances? In addition, stress mod­els have some difficulty predicting exactly when individuals will cope with a stressor in different ways; that is, we do not, easily predict when someone will use palliative versus direct-action strategies -we know that people use these dif­ferent strategies, but describing the chosen path

after the fact is easier than predicting it ahead of time.


The theoretical perspectives reviewed up to this point have been concerned primarily with the specific effects of the environment on behavior but, with the exception of the behavior con­straint model, they have not been concerned much with the effects of behavior on the envi­ronment. Yet , as we have noted many times, be­havior inevitably influences the environment. Ecological psychology views environment-­behavior relationships as two-way streets or, in other words, as ecological interdependencies. Barker (1968, 1979, 1987, 1990) and his colleagues have been the principal advocates of the ecological psychology perspective. The focus of Barker's model is the influence of the behavior setting on the behavior of large numbers of people, which is termed the extra-individual behavior pattern. A unique aspect of Barker's approach is that the behavior setting is an entity in itself. It is not an arbitrarily defined social scientific concept but actually exists and has a physical structure, although it does change over time (Wicker, 1987). In order to understand just how this behavior setting functions, we will first look at some characteristics of the behavior set­ting, then see how the setting fits into Barker's theory al staffing. For additional reading, you might wish to consult the July 1990 issue or Environment and Behavior, which was written by Barker, his students, are colleagues, and is devoted entirely to a commenioration of the functioning of the Midwest Psychological Field Station, which was the setting of much of Bar­ker's early work.

The Nature of the Behavior Setting

A number of behaviors can occur inside a struc­ture with four walls, a ceiling, and a floor; but if we know that the cultural purpose of this structure is to be a classroom, then we know that the behavior of the people in the structure will be quite different than if its purpose is to be a


Environment-Behavior Theories: Conceptualizing Our Interaction With the Environment 125


church, a factory, or a hockey arena. The fact that this behavior setting is in a , built environ­ment also tells us that the extra-individual be­havior will be different from that in the natural environment of a forested wilderness or a desert. This cultural purpose exists because the be­havior setting consists of the interdependency between standing patterns of behavior kind a physical milieu. Standing patterns of behavior represent the collective behaviors of the group, rather than just individual behaviors. These be­haviors are not unique to the individuals pres­ent, but they may be unique to the setting. If the behavior setting is a classroom in a lecture ­oriented course; then the standing patterns of behavior would include lecturing, listening, ob­serving, sitting, taking notes, raising hands, and exchanging questions and answers. Since this en masse behavior pattern occurs only in an educational behavior setting, ecological psychol­ogists would infer that knowing about the set­ting helps us predict the behavior that will occur in it. The physical milieu of this behavior setting would include a room, a lectern, chairs, and per­haps a chalkboard and projector and screen.

Once the individuals leave the classroom, the physical milieu still remains, so the standing behavior patterns are independent of the mi­lieu. Yet they are similar in structure, or synomorphic , and together create the behavior setting (Figure 4-G). A change in either the standing behavior patterns (as when a club holds a meeting in the classroom) or the physi­cal milieu (such as when the class is held out­doors on the first warm day of spring) changes the behavior setting. Sommer (1998) describes the synomorphic evolution of food co-ops as gradual renovations to the stores in order to make the design more and more consistent with the ideology of the group.

How can we use the behavior setting conceptualization to understand environment behavior relationships? Perhaps a few examples can best illustrate the utility of this approach (see also Wicker & Kirmeyer, 1976). One very famous application of ecological psychology was described in Chapter 1. In this study, Barker and his colleagues (Barker & Schoggen, 1973; Barker & Wright, 1955) compared a small town in Kansas with one in England. They found, for


Figure 4-b    According to Barker's ecological psychology, knowing about the physical setting tells us much about the behaviors that occur there. In the setting shown, what behaviors can you always expect to see? -


126 CHAPTER 4             Theories of Environment-Behavior Relationships

example, that in England behavior settings under the control of businesses were more com­mon, and the ,behavior in them lasted longer. In settings involving voluntary participation, how­ever, Americans spent more time and held more positions of responsibility 'than did the Britons. (The significance of such findings will be more apparent later in the discussion of staffing Wicker (1979, 1957) notes that ecological psychology methods are very useful for such di­verse goals as documenting community life, assessing the social impact of change, and ana­lyzing the structure of organizations for such factors as efficiency of operation; handling of responsibility, and indications of status: In ad­dition, as Bechtel (1977) noted, ecological psy­chology call be useful in assessing environmental design. By carefully examining the behavior set­ting, one can analyze such design features as pathways, or links between settings. and focal points, or places where behavior tends to con­centrate. In the lobby of a building, for example, it is important to separate pathways to various elevators, offices, and shops in order to avoid congestion and confusion. An information cen­ter in the lobby, though, would be most useful if placed at a focal point. As another example, open-plan (i.e., no internal walls) designs in schools and offices, although having advantages, often lead to inadequate boundaries between behavior settings thereby causing interference with the intended functions (e.g., Oldham & - Brass, 1979). We will discuss more of these kinds of design implications in Chapters 11, 12, and 13.

Staffing the Setting;

How Many Peas Fill a Pod?

What happens if a behavior setting such as a classroom or theater has too few or too many in­habitants for maximum functioning efficiency? Do students at small schools, for example, take on more roles of responsibility than students at larger schools? Studies of these questions from the ecological psychology perspective have led to what is called staffing theory (Barker, 1960; Barker & Gump, 1964; Wicker & Kirlneyer,

1976; Wicker, IVIcGrath, & Armstrong, 1972). historically, this concept was termed the theory of manning, but today it is known by the gender ­neutral phrase theory of staffing.

In order to understand the theory , let us first define some terms proposed by Wicker and his colleagues that are related to the concept of staffing. The minimum number of inhabitants needed to maintain a behavior setting is defined as the maintenance minimum The maximum number of inhabitants the. setting can hold ,is the capacity. The people who meet the membership requirements of the setting and who are trying to became part of it are called appli­cants  Performers in a setting carry out the primary tasks, such as the teacher in a. classroom, the workers in a factory, or the cast and sup. porting staff in a play. Nonperformers, such as the pupils in a classroom or the audience in a theater, are involved in secondary roles. Main­tenance minimum, capacity; and the applicants are different entities for performers and non­performers. For example, maintenance mini­mum for performers in a classroom would be the smallest staff (teachers, custodians, secre­taries, deans) required to carry out the program. For nonperformers, maintenance minimum would be the smallest number of pupils required to keep the class going. Capacity for performers in a classroom might be determined by social factors (e.g., how many teachers are most effec­tive in one setting) and by physical factors, such as the size of the room, number of lecterns, and so on. For nonperforlrl.ers, room size would be the primary determinant of capacity. Whether your class contains 10 or 1,000 students de­pends in most cases as much on classroom size as on educational policy. For performers, appli­cants are the individuals who meet the require­ments of the performer role and who seek to perform; as in the number of teachers available to teach a given class. Applicants for nonper­formers are those who seek secondary roles, as in the number of students trying to get into the class. If students are available but do not seek to get into the class, or if teachers do not want to teach a given class, then they are not considered applicants.

Environment -Behavior Theories: Conceptualizing Our Interaction With the Environment C127

Smoking is banned today in many public spaces, but sometimes smokers light up in nonsmoking areas. Gibson and Weiner (1994) suggested that part of die reason may not be disrespectful smokers, but rather environmental layout and cues.

One aspect of ecological psychology involves the, circuitry of the setting- those elements by which it is regulated. For example, the setting program defines what is supposed to happen in the setting, and the deviation-countering circuit restores order to violations of the program. Gibson and Werner viewed

smoking in a nonsmoking area as a violation Of the program. The problem, they suggested, is that the pro­gram is not always obvious. Recall from Chapter 3 that legibility is an important aspect of defining the ease of cognitive mapping in a city. lack of legibility may also be a factor in smokers lighting up in nonsmoking areas. In one study, Gibson and Werner found that smoking was much more likely in ambiguous area, than in clearly marked nonsmoking areas. In another study; they created a distinct boundary be­tween smoking and nonsmoking areas, or they kept the boundary ambiguous by having a row of chairs cross between the two areas. In addition, ambiguity was created by sometimes having ashtrays in non­smoking areas, all of this despite the clear presence of "No Smoking" signs. Again, they found that the more ambiguity, the more smoking in nonsmoking areas (i.e.; the more violation of the setting program). In fact; when boundaries were distinct and ashtrays not present, no one ever smoked in a nonsmoking area. In a third study, these researchers found that nonsmokers' responses to an intruding smoker could be predicted by location and legibility of the setting. Nonsmokers were more likely to reprimand a smoker in a nonsmoking area,(i.e:, counter the deviation or defend the territory) if the violation occurred in the center of the area versus the edge, of the designated nonsmoking area; deviation countering was also more likely to occur if the program of the nonsmoking area was highly legible (e.; if the boundary,,

If the number of applicants to a setting (ei­ther performers or nonperformers) falls below maintenance minimum, then some or all of the inhabitants must take on more than their share of roles if the behavior setting is to be main­tained. This condition is termed understaffed. if the number of applicants exceeds the ca­pacity, the setting is overstaffed, and if the number of applicants is between maintenance minimum and capacity, the setting is adequately staffed wicker (1973) has labeled an adequately staffed setting with a low number of participants as poorly ,Staffed, and an adequately staffed set­ting with a high number of participants as richly staffed. Thus, we can consider a continuum of participation levels from understaffed to poorly staffed, adequately staffed, richly staffed, and overstaffed.

When conditions of understaffing exist, the consequences for the inhabitants of the setting are many. As stated earlier, inhabitant must take on more specific tasks and roles than, would otherwise be the case. As a result, inhabi­tants have to work harder and at more difficult tasks than they would Otherwise, and peak per­formance on any  task is not as great as in an adequately staffed setting. Furthermore, ad­missions standards to understaffed settings may have to be lowered, and superficial differences among inhabitants may be largely ignored, whereas in adequately staffed settings these dif­ferences are highlighted to fit each person into his or her appropriate role. Each inhabitant in an understaffed setting is more valued, has more responsibility, and interacts more mean­ingfully with the setting. Since understaffed

128 CHAPTER 4           Theories of Environment-Behavior Relationships

settings have more opportunities for the experi­ence of failure as well as success (owing to the increase in number of experiences per inhabi­tant), these settings are likely to result in more feelings of insecurity than are adequately staffed settings. The consequences of understaffing are summarized in Table 4-1.

Overstaffing, on the other hand, results in adaptive mechanisms being brought into play to deal with the huge number of applicants. One obvious solution would be to increase the capacity, probably through enlarging the pres­ent


physical milieu or moving to a larger one. Another adaptive mechanism would be to con­trol the entrance of clients into the setting, ei­ther through stricter, entrance requirements or through some sort of funneling process (Figure 4-7). For example, Wicker (19791 describes how ecological psychologists implemented and eval­uated a queuing (waiting line) arrangement at Yosemite National Park to alleviate overcrowd­ing and associated disruptive behavior at bus stops. Still another regulatory mechanism would be to limit the amount of time inhabitants can spend in the setting. These three mechanisms are elaborated in Table 4-2

In general, predictions for staffing theory have been supported by research. For example, in a laboratory study involving too many, too few, or an intermediate number of participants to run a complex racing game, those in under­staffed conditions reported feelings of involve­ment in the group and having an important role within the group (e.g., Wicker et al., 1976). Studies of large versus small high schools (Baird, 1969; Barker & Gump, 1964) suggest that stu­dents in small schools (which are less likely to be overstaffed) are indeed involved in a wider range of activities than students from large schools and are more likely to report feelings of satisfaction and of being challenged, Similar results have been reported for colleges as well (Baird, 1969; Berk & Goebel, 1987). Even stu­dent groups within college conform to the prin­ciples of staffing: As group size declines, groups become more open to prospective and new members (Cini , Moreland, & Levine, 1993). Studies of large versus small. churches (e.g., Wicker, 1969; Wicker & Kauma, 1974; Wicker, mcGrath, & Armstrong, 1972; Wicker & meh­ler, 1971) also indicate that members of small churches are likely to be involved in more be­havior settings within the church (e.g., choir, committees) and to be involved in more leader­ship positions; such predictions are based on the assumption that smaller churches are more likely to be understaffed and larger churches overstaffed. Norris-Baker (1999) describes how staffing theory is useful in evaluating the effects

Environrnent-Behavior Theories: Conceptualizing Our Interaction With the Environment 129

Figure 4-7    Funneling is one way to regulate entrance into a potentially overstaffed behavior setting.

,,,Table 4-2


Regulating access of applicants into the setting by: scheduling appointments for entrance

•    increasing or decreasing recruiting            

•    raising or lowering admission standards

•asking participants to wait in holding areas

•Preventing unauthorized entrances


Regulating the settings capacity by:

•           changing the arrangements or contents of the physical milieu

•           changing the duration (hours open) of the setting

•           increasing or decreasing staff (performers) to handle applicants

assigning stuff (performers) to different tasks as demands of applicants increase or decrease

Regulating the time applicants or inhabitants occupy the setting by:

• admitting applicants at different rates

•changing the limits on how long people can stay

•using a fee structure based on length of stay

•  establishing priorities for dealing with different classes of applicants

•    changing the standing patterns of behavior to facilitate the flow of applicants


130  CHAPTER 4            Theories of Environment-Behavior Relationships

of population, decline in small rural communi­ties. altogether, then, these and other studies ,suggest that staffing theory is very , useful in assessing involvement and satisfaction within a number of environments, from businesses (e.g., Greenberg, 1979; Oxley & Barrera, 1984), to psychiatric institutions (e.g., Srivastava, 1974) to schools and churches, and to "home, sweet home" (Jones, Nesselroade, & Birkel, 1991).

Assessing the Ecological Psychology Perspective

Ecological psychology .has its advantages  and disadvantages It necessitates using a field observation methodology (described in Chapter 1) that gives the theory the advantage of using real­-world behavior. It certainly insists on preserving the integrity of the person-environment inter­relationship. However, it includes the disadvan­tage of not being able to study many detailed cause-and-effect relationships in the laboratory, though certainly some laboratory research on ecological psychology principles has been and will continue to be conducted (e.g, Wicker, 1987; Wicker & Kirmeyer,1976). Studies of real-world behavior in context lead to difficulties of inter­pretation without scientific control of variables. For example, the observed effects of large ver­sus small schools or churches could be due to differential group influence such as staffing de­mands, or to individual differences in the types of people who choose to affiliate with large ver­sus small in Here we have a theory that is so broad in its scope that specific pre­dictions about one person's behavior become difficult to make and troublesome to confirm. Since this approach is designed to study group behavior, it does a respectable job of handing group data in the context of a given setting. but it does not handle individual behavior as well as other theories. To its credit, ecological theory does generate many valuable research ques­tions, such as what common properties of cer­tain behavior settings result in the same group behavior, what happens when the structure of a behavior setting changes, and what effects

one behavior setting has on behavior in another setting. Finally, the ecological approach is appli­cable to a large variety of settings and circum­stances ( Sommer & Wicker, 1991).


We have described six major broad theoretical perspectives used in environmental psychology. There are additional approaches that are used in a more restricted domain, particularly with re­gard to designing environments.we will briefly mention a few of them here and describe their application beginning in Chapter 11.

We noted in Chapter 2 that humans often develop attachment to places. This includes not just natural areas such as parks but also built en­vironments such as our homes or communities . This attachment is often accompanied by a sense of ownership and a tendency to defend the place against intruders. The theory of de­fensible space (see page 356) implies that we can design places to promote attachment and make defense easier. As we will see in Chap­ter 7 on disasters, disturbed places have more impact on us if we are attached to them.

We also noted on page 110 that we seek an ideal level of privacy. This not only is similar to the principles of adaptation level theory, but is also one mediator of our use of space and the operation of personal space, territoriality, and crowding as means of maintaining the desired privacy level (see also AItman, 1975; Kupritz, 1998; Newell, 1998; Pedersen, 1997.). In design­ing environment, privacy regulation is one ex­ample of the principle Of congruence, which refers to the fit of an environment to the needs it is designed to meet-and the behaviors it is designed to promote. To the extent that an environment is not congruent intended behav­iors (in ecological psychology terminology is not synomorphic with its purpose), some sort of stress is likely. To the extent that congruence is present. satisfaction and attachment are likely.

We have also described a model of environmental press and competence in the box on page 112 To the extent that press and com-


Integration and Summary of Theoretical Perspectives 131

Petence are  matched (i.e., congruent), psycho­logical well-being as well as attachment and satisfaction are promoted. wayfinding as described in Chapter 3 can be facilitated by user friendly designs, which is another example of congruence, as is designing environments for



accessibility 1)y those vs-'llc,) llave disabilities. En­\•11'U11111e11tS with 11121c1,SClllate Clf'Sly11S 111 this re­.

gard are, likely to foster constraints and stress, but those with appropriate designs should yield satisfaction, attachment, and competence (see also Pedersen , 1999).

Integration and Summary of Theoretical Perspectives

We will encounter still more conceptual per­spectives in future chapters, and we will see repeatedly that the major theories we have de­scribed thus far are not mutually exclusive. Each theory selects one or two mediators inferred from empirical data and attempts to explain a large portion of the data using the mediator. just because one mediator explains a particular set of data, however, does not mean that other mediators do not operate in the same set of data, it is entirely conceivable, for example, that loud noise produces information overload, stress, arousal, and psychological reactance all at the same time in the same individual, and that ar­chitectural designs that fail to attenuate noise lead to all of these outcomes. Furthermore, reg­ardless of which of these mediators is involved (either alone or in combination), any number of coping responses are likely to result, such as flight, erecting barriers or other protective devices ignoring other humans in need, and di­rectly attempting to stop or reduce the stimulus input at the source. Although one particular me­diator may best predict or explain which coping responses will occur in a given situation, other Mediators are not necessarily excluded from that or similar situations. It is our position that all of the mediating processes discassed thus far prob­ably occur at some time, given all the possible situations in which environmental stimulation influences behavior. Therefore, we now present an eclectic scheme of environment-behavior relationships as summary and integration of the theoretical concepts we have discussed in this chapter.

This scheme of theoretical concepts is pre­sented in the flowchart in Figure 4-8. Objective environmental conditions, such as population density, temperature, noise levels, pollution levels, and building designs, exist independent of the individual, although individuals can act to change these objective conditions. The scheme includes such individual difference factors as adaptation level, length of exposure, perceived control, personality. Privacy , preference, attach­ment, and competence to deal with the ele­ments of the, environment, as well as such social factors as social support and liking or hostility for others in the situation. Perception of the objective physical conditions depends on the ob­jective conditions themselves, as well as on the individual difference factors and the attitudinal, perceptual, and cognitive processes discessed in Chapters 2 and 3. If this subjective perception determines that the environment is within an optimal range of stimulation or is congruent with intended behavior, the result is homeostatic, the adjective form of homeostasis, or an equal­ization of desired and actual input. On the other hand, if the environment is experienced as out­side the optimal range of stimulation (e.g., lln­del'Stlllltll2ltlo1l, overstimulation, or stimulating in a behavior-constraining manner-including being overstaffed or understaffed or incongru­ent), then one or more of the following psycho­logical states results: arousal, stress, information overload, or reactance. The presence of one or more of these states leads to coping strategies. If the attempted coping strategies are  success­ful, adaptation or adjustment occurs, possibly

132 CHAPTER 4   Theories of Environment-Behavior Relationships


Figure4-8     An eclectic model of theoretical perspectives.

followed by such aftereffects as lowered frustra­tion tolerance, fatigue, and reduced ability to cope with the next immediate stressor. Cumula­tive aftereffects might include any of these, but, would also include increased self-confidence and a degree of learning about coping with fu­ture occurrences of undesirable environmental stimulation. Should the coping strategies not be successful, however, arousal and stress will con­tinue, possibly heightened by the individual's awareness that the strategies are failing. Po­tential aftereffects of such inability to cope include exhaustion, learned helplessness, severe performance decrements, and mental disor­ders. Finally, as indicated by the feedback loops, experiences the environment influence

perception of the environment for future en­counters and also contribute to individual differences for future experrences.


We present this model not as a completely developed environmental theory but merely as an attempt to integrate the various mediating concepts that have been applied to environment-behavior relationships. Undoubtedly, some data exist that do not support one aspect or another of this integration. However, we think this eclectic approach will help explain many of the environment-behavior rela­tionships to be covered in the remainder of the textbook. We will continue to see this model in following chapters, where we will discuss how the physical environment (noise,weather,air

Summary  133


Pulution ), personal space and crowding, cities, and built and natural environments influence specific behaviors. When appropriate, we will point out how the various theoretical notions in this chapter help explain those specific influences.


environmental psychology, as a science, seeks to understand cause-and-effect relationships through prediction and uses publicly observable data to verify these predictions. Once enough predictions are verified, theories are con­structed, which consist of a set of concepts and a set of statements relating the concepts to one another. Usually, theories infer that a more or less abstract variable mediates the relationship

between one observable variable and another. Good environmental theories should predict and summarize empirical data, should offer gen­eralizability to many situations, and should sug­gest ideas for research.

The arousal approach to. Environment-­behavior relationships suggests that environmental stimulation leads to increased arousal. According to the Yerkes-Dodson law, this

134 CHAPTER 4            Theories of Environment-Behavior Relationships

increased arousal .will improve or impair perfor­mance; depending on whether the individual's arousal is below or above all optimal level. Other behaviors, such as aggression, also tend to fol­low this curvilinear relationship with arousal.

The information overload model proposes that our capacity to process information is limited and that when excessive stimulation occurs, peripheral inputs are ignored in order to give adequate attention to primary tasks. As a result, responses to these peripheral nonsocial or social stimuli are minimal or nonexistent. The under­-stimulation approach notes that monotonous environmental stimulation leads to boredom and thus to behavioral deficiencies. Wohlwill's ap­proach posits an individual difference variable, or adaptation level (AL), such that stimulation levels above or below this AL will bring discom­fort and efforts to reduce or increase the stimu­lation. The behavior constraint model proposes that perceived loss. of control over the environ­ment leads to reactance or efforts to regain freedom of action. If these efforts at reassertion are unsuccessful, learned helplessness may be the result.

The stress model of environment-behavior relationships posits that once stimuli have been evaluated as threatening, coping strategies are brought into play. These strategies can be bene­ficial ,as when their use results in learning more efficient ways of coping with stress. However, prolonged exposure to stress can lead to serious aftereffects, including mental disorders, perfor­mance decrements, and lowered resistance to stress.

Barker's ecological psychology model ex­amines environment-behavior interdependencies and focuses on the behavior setting as the unit of study. If the number of applicants to a setting falls below maintenance minimum, per­formers and nonperformers in the understaffed setting must take on additional roles in order to maintain the setting.

Finally, there is no reason to assume that only one mediator operates in any given environment-behavior situation. An eclectic model is offered that attempts to integrate a number of different theoretical concepts.



  adaptation level (AL)

  adjustment  aftereffects

alarm reaction

  ambient stressors

 applicants appraisal


background stressors

 behavior constraint

 behavior setting


cataclysmic events


 challenge appraisal

control model




 daily hassles



ecological psychology


empirical laws

en masse behavior pattern environmental competence environmental load environmental press environmental stress model

equilibrium extra-indivi dual

~ohn~r;i~r il:~t'1P1'Tl

general adaptation

 syndrome (GAS)


harm or loss appraisal




intervening construct

learned helplessness



 mediation variable



moderator variable

 nonperformers overload




perceived control


 personal stressors

 physical milieu

primary appraisal



 psychological stress


refractory period


 Restricted Environ­mental Stimulation

 Technique (or) Therapy (REST)

reticular formation

 screening appraisal




1. observe a behavior setting for a week. what behavior Patterns are always present? Is the setting understaffed, overstaffed, or adequately Staffed"

2. Keep a diary for a week or more of all the events that constrain your behavior. Do you respond with reactance, learned helplessness, or some other behavior?

3. Keep a log of your performance levels in classrom, study, and leisure situations, noting your arousal level and amount of environmental stimulation. Does your performance vary as a functioil of arousal level, overload, or under load?

4. Construct your own model of environment-behavior relationships. How well can you integrate the various theoretical perspectives discussed in this chapter and the previous one?


+ نوشته شده در  ۸۹/۱۰/۲۲ساعت 13:4  توسط مصطفی علی نژادیان | 
شرکت طرح و ساخت ماندگار اشل جهت شرکت مشاور از رشته های زیر دعوت به همکاری میکند:

۱.دکتراوارشد وکارشناسی معماری با حداقل۵سال سابقه کار.

۲.دکتراوارشد وکارشناسی عمران ـسازه با حداقل۵سال سابقه کار.

۳.دکتراوارشد وکارشناسی شهر سازی با حداقل۵سال سابقه کار.

۴.دکتراوارشد وکارشناسی طراحی شهری با حداقل۵سال سابقه کار.

علاقمندان باید رزومه خود را حداکثر تا تاریخ ۳۰/۸/۱۳۸۹به شماره ۰۲۱۴۴۸۴۰۹۲۰فکس یا به .eshel.co.ir@gmail.comایمیل کنند.

+ نوشته شده در  ۸۹/۰۸/۰۵ساعت 1:46  توسط مصطفی علی نژادیان | 
شرکت طرح و ساخت ماندگار اشل در سال ۱۳۸۸ با زمینه فعالیت معماری و معماری داخلی تاسیس گردید.در همین مدت کوتاه حسن نظر کارفرمایان معتبر وقابلیت های خاص همکاران مجموعه باعث خلق آثار برجسته معماری شده است که در ادامه به آنها اشاره خواهد شد.

شرکت طرح و ساخت ماندگار اشل امیدوار است با نو آوری در طراحی و اجرای خاص فصلی نو را در معماری ایران آغاز کند.

+ نوشته شده در  ۸۹/۰۸/۰۱ساعت 1:40  توسط مصطفی علی نژادیان | 
تلفن های تماس :









+ نوشته شده در  ۸۹/۰۷/۱۴ساعت 15:28  توسط مصطفی علی نژادیان | 
صفحه نخست
پروفایل مدیر وبلاگ
پست الکترونیک
آرشیو وبلاگ
عناوین مطالب وبلاگ
درباره وبلاگ
شرکت معماری اشل آماده هر نوع همکاری در زمینه ساختمان با کارفرمایان وارگان ها میباشد.

نوشته های پیشین
هفته چهارم دی ۱۳۸۹
هفته اوّل آبان ۱۳۸۹
هفته دوم مهر ۱۳۸۹
شركت طرح و ساخت ماندگار اشل
شركت طرح و ساخت ماندگار اشل



Powered by WebGozar