The way that humans interact with nature is a fascinating concept. For centuries we lived in complete harmony with nature, building our lives around it and accepting the omnipotence of Mother Nature. However, since the industrial revolution, humans have ground down nature to the point where the world is in crisis. Climate change is ravaging the planet and it is up to scientists and eco-warriors to work out what to do to reverse the damage that has been done.
An environmental psychologist focuses their attention on analysing the relationship between humans and the environment, both natural and constructed. They look at how humans interact with urban environments and determine behaviours that cause environmental problems. The data collected by this specific type of scientist can then be put to good use to help humankind achieve a sustainable future.
Basics of the Job
A typical morning as an environmental psychologist could see you sitting in your office researching factors that sway people into living or not living in a certain area. You will analyse which factors are most desirable in a neighbourhood and work out how to implement these practically to increase population density in certain communities and combat urban sprawl. The aim of the game is to make these communities coveted real estate that is attractive to buyers.
Some of the factors you will analyse will include access to green spaces; the types of accommodation on offer; pollution levels and air quality; and availability of public transport within the area. When you have identified what people want from a living space, you may be asked to deliver a report to property developers who will use your research to inform their building decisions.
Your number one duty as an environment psychologist will be to investigate challenges that arise as humans interact with their environment. You will use various research and recording methods to analyse what is desirable and undesirable and you will document your findings for data analysis. One way in which you might obtain your information is by constructing and distributing surveys or questionnaires to local residents.
You will also need a good grasp of statistics as you will need to convert your survey results into tangible data. You will examine how environmental factors influence that way people feel and behave and use this to understand the bigger picture of your project. Finally, you will write up reports that will be handed over to property developers, government bodies, and may even be sent for publication in environmental journals.
Where You Will Work
As you might imagine, wherever there are people, there will be work for an environmental psychologist. From inner city communities to the most rural villages, there is always interaction between humans and their environment and this will always offer valuable information. You will split your time between the office, where you will perform your data analysis; and the field where you will gather your data and conduct presentations.
Who to Work For
The scope of employers for an environmental psychologist is not as wide as some other professionals within the energy and environment sector, but there are vacancies out there. Local government departments are a good place to start your job hunt. NGOs and property developers may also be in need of your skills as may research institutes that focus on the more academic side of environmental psychology.