Journal of Environmental Psychology

Published by Elsevier BV

Online ISSN: 1522-9610


Print ISSN: 0272-4944


FIGURE 1. Pro¢le ofàscent' of thèEverest-Comex 1997' experiment from sea-level to Mount Everest level (8848 m). Phase 1 consisted of a 6-day period of acclimatization in the decompression chamber at sea-level; phase 2 consisted of a 6-day free period and a 6-day period of acclimatization to hypoxia in actual high altitude in the French Alps (4350 m altitude); Phase 3 consisted of a 31-day period of con¢nement in a hypobaric chamber with gradual decompression from sea-level to Mount Everest level (8848 m). Open squares represent personality and trait-anxiety test sessions; dark squares represent state-anxiety test sessions. 
An anxiety, personality and altitude symptomatology study during a 31-day period of hypoxia in a hypobaric chamber (experiment 'Everest-Comex 1997')
  • Article
  • Full-text available

December 1999


327 Reads


F Thullier-Lestienne


C Bouquet




Extreme environmental situations are useful tools for the investigation of the general processes of adaptation. Among such situations, high altitude of more than 3000 m produces a set of pathological disorders that includes both cerebral (cAS) and respiratory (RAS) altitude symptoms. High altitude exposure further induces anxiety responses and behavioural disturbances. The authors report an investigation on anxiety responses, personality traits, and altitude symptoms (AS) in climbers participating in a 31-day period of confinement and gradual decompression in a hypobaric chamber equivalent to a climb from sea-level to Mount Everest (8848 m altitude). Personality traits, state-trait anxiety, and AS were assessed, using the Cattell 16 Personality Factor questionnaire (16PF), the Spielberger's State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI), and the Lake Louise concensus questionnaire. Results show significant group effect for state-anxiety and AS; state-anxiety and AS increased as altitude increased. They also show that state-type anxiety shows a similar time-course to cAS, but not RAS. Alternatively, our results demonstrate a significant negative correlation between Factor M of the 16PF questionnaire, which is a personality trait that ranges from praxernia to autia. In contrast, no significant correlation was found between personality traits and AS. This suggests that AS could not be predicted using personality traits and further support that personality traits, such as praxernia (happening sensitivity), could play a major role in the occurrence of state-type anxiety responses in extreme environments. In addition, the general processes of coping and adaptation in individuals participating in extreme environmental experiments are discussed.

What can abnormal environments tell us about normal people? Polar stations as natural psychology laboratories

April 1998


88 Reads

The psychological effects of unusual environments reveal different aspects of behaviour from those seen in more customary situations. Such environments provide natural laboratories in which many questions of psychological interest, varying with the specific environment, may be studied. This paper uses isolated polar stations to illustrate this point. In such settings, the usual parameters that control a variety of psychological processes are drastically changed, and confounding variables are stripped away. Consequently, the environment offers unique perspectives on environmental perception and cognition; adaptation to and use of the environment; environmental bonding; social interaction; and coping with environmental challenge.

The Relationship of Place to Substance use and Perceptions of Risk and Safety in Urban Adolescents

December 2009


95 Reads

Geographic and substance use data were collected from 301 urban adolescents to compare the perceived and observed risk and safety associated with their home and activity space locations (routine locations). The geographic characteristics of the neighborhood surrounding each location was summarized according to features theorized to be risky, such as criminal activity and alcohol sales, and features theorized to be safe, such as recreation centers and churches. Data on socioeconomic status, derived from U.S. Bureau of the Census data, were also used to characterize locations. Adolescents' homes were typically perceived as safe despite observed measures of risk such as density of crimes and proximity to alcohol outlets. This held for both substance users and non-users. Differences in geographic characteristics for safe and risky activity spaces were observed for both substance users and non-users, with non-users appearing to be more sensitive to the presence of risky characteristics in the environment than substance users. Results highlight the need and provide a methodology to collect fine-grained activity space data instead of relying only on home residence when attempting to represent place and health behaviors with urban youth.

The Distracting Effects of a Ringing Cell Phone: An Investigation of the Laboratory and the Classroom Setting

December 2009


4,273 Reads

The detrimental effects of a ringing phone on cognitive performance were investigated in four experiments. In Experiments 1 and 2, the effects of different types of sounds (a standard cell phone ring, irrelevant tones and an instrumental song commonly encountered by participants) on performance were examined. In Experiment 1, slower responses were observed in all auditory groups relative to a silence condition, but participants in the ring and song conditions recovered more slowly. In Experiment 2, participants who were warned about the potential for distraction recovered more quickly, suggesting a benefit of this prior knowledge. This investigation continued in a college classroom setting (Experiments 3a and 3b); students were exposed to a ringing cell phone during the lecture. Performance on a surprise quiz revealed low accuracy rates on material presented while the phone was ringing. These findings offer insight into top-down cognitive processes that moderate involuntary orienting responses associated with a common stimulus encountered in the environment.

The dynamic nature of cognition during wayfinding

October 2008


970 Reads

Much of our day-to-day wayfinding behaviour takes place in familiar large-scale urban environments, yet there is a dearth of studies examining how wayfinding unfolds on a second-by-second basis in this context. Here we used a retrospective verbal report protocol, eye tracking and a highly accurate virtual reality simulation of a real city (London, UK) to examine this issue. Subjects, who were taxi drivers, were able to produce extremely detailed accounts of what they had been thinking during wayfinding, which were validated by independent eye-tracking data. There was a high degree of consistency in the types of thoughts across subjects, permitting classification into a number of distinct categories. Moreover, it was possible to quantify the number of thoughts in each category, their durations and temporal order. Detailed analysis of the verbal reports provided new insights into the processes and strategies involved, and highlighted a greater range of thoughts than has previously been reported in studies of wayfinding. By analysing the temporal order of thoughts it was possible to identify specific relationships between categories. Some of these relationships were predicted by current cognitive models of wayfinding, others were novel, thus shedding new light on how navigation unfolds in a busy city.

Creating and validating GIS measures of Urban design for health research.

December 2009


204 Reads

Studies relating urban design to health have been impeded by the unfeasibility of conducting field observations across large areas and the lack of validated objective measures of urban design. This study describes measures for five dimensions of urban design - imageability, enclosure, human scale, transparency, and complexity - created using public geographic information systems (GIS) data from the US Census and city and state government. GIS measures were validated for a sample of 588 New York City block faces using a well-documented field observation protocol. Correlations between GIS and observed measures ranged from 0.28 to 0.89. Results show valid urban design measures can be constructed from digital sources.

Map of London. A. London as it is normally. B. A map showing existing London integrated with ‘new’ London, where modifications are depicted in red. Note that participants never saw these maps. Maps reproduced by permission of Geographers’ A–Z Map Co. Ltd. © Crown Copyright 2005. All rights reserved. Licence number 100017302.
Example views from the three environments. A. Photograph taken in New Town. B. A view from existing London. C. A photograph from new London.
Example sketch maps. A. A taxi driver’s sketch map of New Town. B. A control participant’s sketch map of New Town. C. A map of existing and new London, as drawn by the same taxi driver whose map of New Town is shown in A.
Map of New Town. The two overlapping routes are shown. Note that participants never saw this map. Map © Google Maps.
The effect of navigational expertise on wayfinding in new environments

December 2010


252 Reads

Becoming proficient at navigation in urban environments is something that we all aspire to. Here we asked whether being an expert at wayfinding in one environment has any effect on learning new spatial layouts. Licensed London taxi drivers are among the most proficient urban navigators, training for many years to find their way around a complex and irregularly-laid out city. We first tested how well they could learn the layout of an unfamiliar town compared with a group of non-taxi drivers. Second, we investigated how effectively taxi drivers could integrate a new district into their existing spatial representation of London. We found that taxi drivers were significantly better than control participants at executing routes through the new town, and representing it at a map-like survey level. However, the benefits of navigational expertise were not universal. Compared with their performance in the new town, taxi drivers were significantly poorer at learning the layout of a new area that had to be integrated with their existing knowledge of London. We consider reasons for this picture of facilitation and limitation, in particular drawing parallels with how knowledge acquisition occurs in the context of expertise in general.

Neighborhood Conditions and Helping Behavior in Late Life

March 2011


53 Reads

The purpose of this study is to develop and test a latent variable model that explores the ways in which social structural factors influence the amount of social support that older adults provide to their social network members. Neighborhood conditions play a key role in this conceptual scheme. The findings provide support for the following conceptual linkages: (1) low parental education is associated with low respondent education; (2) older people with less education encounter more economic difficulty; (3) greater financial problems are associated with living in a rundown neighborhood; (4) older individuals who live in dilapidated neighborhoods are more hostile; and (5) older adults who are hostile are less likely to provide social support to their social network members. Research indicates that helping others is a key to successful aging. Ways must be found to help economically disadvantaged elders provide support to their social network members.

Housing environment and mental health outcomes: A levels of analysis perspective

April 2007


226 Reads

This study examines the effects of perceived housing environment on selected well-being outcomes of a seriously mentally ill population in supported housing programs. Individuals live independently in their own apartments and use supportive mental health services as needed. The study conceptualizes one's housing environment as existing at the apartment, neighborhood and the surrounding community levels of analysis that, taken together, form a multi-dimensional construct of housing environment. Self-report data from interviews with a sample of seriously mentally ill adults is paired with (a) observer ratings of housing environments, (b) census profiles of the surrounding community and (c) case manager ratings of clients' functioning in order to explore the effects of supported housing environments on well-being outcomes. Well-being is operationalized here as levels of psychiatric distress, recovery orientation, residential satisfaction, and adaptive functioning. Hierarchical regression models posit that apartment, neighborhood and census tract level variables are unique predictors of these domains of well-being. Results show that neighborhood level variables, especially those relating to the social environment, are the most influential predictors for understanding variance in well-being, with apartment level variables also contributing to understanding of housing environment effects. The census tract level predictors did not contribute a significant amount of explanation of the variance in well-being outcomes. Implications for supported housing programs and the role of ecological levels of analysis in conceptualizing and measuring housing environment influence are discussed.

Influences of environments on affective states: Jactor score changes from pre-to post-recovery
Stress Recovery During Exposure to Natural and Urban Environments. Journal of Environmental Psychology. 11: 201-230

September 1991


42,213 Reads

Different conceptual perspectives converge to predict that if individuals are stressed, an encounter with most unthreatening natural environments will have a stress reducing or restorative influence, whereas many urban environments will hamper recuperation. Hypotheses regarding emotional, attentional and physiological aspects of stress reducing influences of nature are derived from a psycho-evolutionary theory. To investigate these hypotheses, 120 subjects first viewed a stressful movie, and then were exposed to color/sound videotapes of one of six different natural and urban settings. Data concerning stress recovery during the environmental presentations were obtained from self-ratings of affective states and a battery of physiological measures: heart period, muscle tension, skin conductance and pulse transit time, a non-invasive measure that correlates with systolic blood pressure. Findings from the physiological and verbal measures converged to indicate that recovery was faster and more complete when subjects were exposed to natural rather than urban environments. The pattern of physiological findings raised the possibility that responses to nature had a salient parasympathetic nervous system component; however, there was no evidence of pronounced parasympathetic involvement in responses to the urban settings. There were directional differences in cardiac responses to the natural vs urban settings, suggesting that attention/intake was higher during the natural exposures. However, both the stressor film and the nature settings elicited high levels of involuntary or automatic attention, which contradicts the notion that restorative influences of nature stem from involuntary attention or fascination. Findings were consistent with the predictions of the psycho-evolutionary theory that restorative influences of nature involve a shift towards a more positively-toned emotional state, positive changes in physiological activity levels, and that these changes are accompanied by sustained attention/intake. Content differences in terms of natural vs human-made properties appeared decisive in accounting for the differences in recuperation and perceptual intake.

Values as predictors of environmental attitudes: Evidence for consistency across 14 countries

September 1999


5,731 Reads

A multinational study is reported on the relationship between values and attitudes. Environmental attitudes were measured using the revised New Environmental Paradigm (NEP: Dunlap et al., 1992) and Thompson and Barton's (1994) ecocentrism–anthropocentrism scales. Other measures included gender, SES, religion, and Schwartz's (1994) universal values scale. Survey data were obtained from college students in 14 countries. A sample of 2160 participants was obtained through university contacts in each country. Results found support for the distinction between different types of environmental attitudes. Regression analyses revealed a consistent pattern of findings across countries. Scores on the NEP scale and the ecocentrism scale were predicted by universalism (positively), power (negatively), and tradition (negatively). In contrast, anthropocentric concerns were significantly related to benevolence (negatively), power (positively), tradition (positively), and security (positively). Overall, these findings support the value-basis theory of environmental attitudes.

Temporal pessimism and spatial optimism in environmental assessments: An 18-nation study

March 2009


916 Reads

The personal assessments of the current and expected future state of the environment by 3232 community respondents in 18 nations were investigated at the local, national, and global spatial levels. These assessments were compared to a ranking of each country's environmental quality by an expert panel. Temporal pessimism (“things will get worse”) was found in the assessments at all three spatial levels. Spatial optimism bias (“things are better here than there”) was found in the assessments of current environmental conditions in 15 of 18 countries, but not in the assessments of the future. All countries except one exhibited temporal pessimism, but significant differences between them were common. Evaluations of current environmental conditions also differed by country. Citizens' assessments of current conditions, and the degree of comparative optimism, were strongly correlated with the expert panel's assessments of national environmental quality. Aside from the value of understanding global trends in environmental assessments, the results have important implications for environmental policy and risk management strategies.

1970–1972: Years of transition

December 1987


40 Reads

This paper describes events and interactions among scholars from the Geography and Psychology Departments at Clark University during the late 1960s. These events and interactions led to the establishment of a vigorous, informal program of training and research on the environment and behavior. The paper also describes an on-going, long-term organismic-developmental, systems-oriented research program which is an outgrowth of that activity. Paradigmatic research on critical person-in-environment transitions and open problems and issues are discussed.

Classification of Generic Places: Explorations with Implications for Evaluation. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 15: 3-22

March 1995


79 Reads

This is an exploratory study, taking on the transactional viewpoint. It provides further research into the notion of place, focusing on the generic nature of places. Metatheoretically, the study is couched into Facet Approach. The main aim was to identify criteria which systematically structure preference for generic places and, on the basis of those criteria, to establish a classification system by which generic places can be compared and related to one another. Fifty-five participants conducted card sort procedure. Multidimensional Scaling Techniques (MSA, SSA) were used to analyse the data. Three relevant criteria could be found: (1) Function of the places, (2) Specificity of function, and (3) Privacy. Implications for future research and practical implications are discussed.

The Relationship between Map Drawing and Spatial Orientation Abilities: A Study of Gender Differences

June 2007


323 Reads

This study examines the relationship between map drawing skills and spatial orientation abilities. Ninety-six students (48 males and 48 females) from the University of Rome “La Sapienza” studied an adapted map of the archeological site of the Palatine Hill. Then, participants were asked to draw a map and to perform some spatial orientation tasks tapping landmark, route and survey knowledge. Results showed a strong relationship among various map drawing skills and spatial orientation abilities. However, such a relationship was more marked in males than in females. In addition, males needed less time to learn the map, were more accurate than females in map drawing, and showed higher levels of performance on road drawing. Overall, these gender differences can be interpreted as deriving from the use of different map learning strategies: males approach the map from a global perspective and whereas females focus on local features.

Japanese office employees' psychological reactions to their underground and above-ground offices

June 1995


100 Reads

The discussion about underground spaces for office use has intensified during the past few decades, but the human reactions towards them are not yet well understood. Furthermore, most of the previous studies have been carried out in western countries. In the present study, Japanese office workers' psychological reactions to underground and above-ground offices were investigated with regard to the perceived importance of windows in the office, and the perceived lighting and visual conditions in the underground and above-ground offices. The study was carried out in the form of a questionnaire survey. The subjects were 22 employees in underground and 86 employees in above-ground offices. The results confirmed that windows were strongly desired in offices, especially by employees working underground and not having windows. The underground employees also evaluated their lighting condition more negatively than did the above-ground workers. Considering that type of furniture and colour scheme, as well as other environmental factors, such as type and level of artificial lighting, temperature and noise level, were very similar in the underground and above-ground offices, it is concluded that the perceived need for windows and the perception of the lighting conditions in our study was strongly influenced by psychological factors, such as the awareness of being underground. Furthermore, the Japanese subjects' reactions were similar to those of the western subjects found in previous studies, which suggests that reactions towards windowlessness and underground spaces are widespread, not influenced substantially by cultural or climatic conditions. It is, therefore, argued that underground spaces for office use should be avoided as much as possible. If underground space utilization is necessary, the occupants' psychological reactions should be considered to a much greater extent in the design process than is the case at present.

Abstract and scenographic imagery: The effect of enviromental form on wayfinding

June 1998


170 Reads

The reported study was conducted to investigate the effect of environmental form on peoples" two types of path imagery: abstract and scenographic. Four hundred and ninety-eight students from three universities, which had different campus designs, were assigned to different group tasks, in which they were tested in both abstract (map-like) performance and scenographic (photographic composition) performance. Results revealed that students at the university of grid-patterned and repetitive design made significantly more errors in scenographic imagery than students at the other two universities. There were no significant differences among students of the three campuses on abstract imagery. Students" abstract performance was clearly superior to their scenographic one. Finally, the study was in support of the concept that we represent environmental knowledge through multiple images.

The Use (and Abuse) of the New Environmental Paradigm Scale Over the Last 30 Years: A Meta-Analysis

June 2010


3,617 Reads

This paper reports a meta-analysis of studies using the New Environmental Paradigm (NEP) Scale over the last 30 years. A review of 69 studies from 36 countries (including 58,279 participants from 139 samples) shows that there is considerable variation in the way the NEP Scale is used, particularly with regards to the number of items used and the number of points on the Likert scale employed. Results from weighted regression analyses reveals that variations in sample type and scale length have a significant effect on NEP scores. In particular, environmentalist and white-collar samples scored significantly higher on the NEP Scale than nationally or regionally representative samples, while blue-collar samples scored significantly lower; and participants scored higher on 6-item versions of the scale than on the revised 15-item version, and lower on versions of the scale containing 5, 7, 8 or 10 items. Implications of this research for the comparability of previous studies using the NEP Scale are discussed and guidelines for future research are presented.

Willingness to accept climate change strategies: The effect of values and norms

September 2004


352 Reads

The present study examined how values, organizational goals and norms influence willingness to accept climate change policy measures within organizations. Respondents were 356 decision makers within the public and private sectors in a metropolitan area of Sweden. Regression models were estimated to investigate the mediating effect of norms on the relationship between values and support of policy measures aimed at reducing green house gas emissions. The results showed that for decision makers in the public sector, but not in the private sector, environmental values were important determinants of willingness to accept climate change policy measures. As hypothesized, these effects were mediated by norms. Together these findings corroborate earlier research on public support for environmental movement.

Acceptability of travel demand management measures: The importance of problem awareness, personal norm, freedom, and fairness

March 2006


304 Reads

Acceptability of travel demand management (TDM) with the aim of reducing private car use is modeled following a hierarchical set of beliefs. In a two-part model, pro-environmental orientation, problem awareness, personal norm, and willingness to reduce car use are linked to beliefs about to which extent the specific TDM measure is perceived to influence freedom to choose travel mode, own reduction of car use, effectiveness, fairness, and subsequently acceptability. Data were collected through a mail survey in Sweden, and the model was tested in a sample of car users for three TDM measures; improved public transport, an information campaign, and increased tax on fuel. First, the models were tested and modified in a randomly selected sub-sample (N=462), then the modified models were validated in the remaining sub-sample (N=460). We conclude that problem awareness and personal norm, in combination with evaluations of specific TDM measures, are underlying the acceptability of TDM measures. Moral considerations and perceived fairness were important for the acceptability of increased tax on fuel, while freedom aspects and problem awareness were of importance for the acceptability of improved public transport. Because acceptability often is important for the implementation of TDM measures, policy makers may draw on these results when attempting to increase the acceptability of various TDM measures.

Factors Influencing the Acceptability of Energy Policies: A Test of VBN Theory

December 2005


950 Reads

This paper examines factors influencing the acceptability of energy policies aimed to reduce the emission of CO2 by households. More specifically, it is studied to what extent the value–belief–norm theory of environmentalism (VBN theory; Stern, [(2000). Toward a coherent theory of environmentally significant behavior. Journal of Social Issues, 56(3), 407–424.]) is successful in explaining acceptability judgements. In contrast to previous studies, we test the full VBN theory. A questionnaire study was conducted among 112 Dutch respondents. Results confirmed the causal order of the variables in VBN theory, moving from relative stable general values to beliefs about human–environment relations, which in turn affect behaviour specific beliefs and norms, and acceptability judgements, respectively. As expected, all variables were significantly related to the next variable in the causal chain. Biospheric values were also significantly related to feelings of moral obligation to reduce household energy consumption when intermediate variables were controlled for. Furthermore, as hypothesized, personal norms mediated the relationship between AR and acceptability judgements, AR beliefs mediated the relationship between AC beliefs and personal norms, AC beliefs mediated the relationship between NEP and AR beliefs, and NEP mediated the relationship between values and AC beliefs.

Perceptions of forestry alternatives in the US Pacific Northwest: Information effects and acceptability distribution analysis

June 2006


82 Reads

Conflicts over timber harvesting and clearcutting versus wildlife conservation have instigated alternative silvicultural systems in the US Pacific Northwest. Major forest treatments can be the most controversial element of such systems. A public survey explored the social acceptability of 19 forest treatments that varied by forest age, level of green-tree retention, pattern of retention, and level of down wood. The survey presented respondents with photos of the treatments, explanatory narratives, and resource outputs related to human and wildlife needs. Respondents rated treatments for scenic beauty, service to human needs, service to wildlife needs, and overall acceptability. Acceptability distribution patterns were analysed for all forest treatments. These showed broad, passionate opposition to clearcutting, conflict over the acceptability of not managing forests, conflict over old growth harvests, conflict with some passionate opposition to 15% retention harvests, and unconflicted acceptance of young forest thinnings and 40% retention harvests. Modelling of these responses found that socially acceptable forestry attends to scenic beauty and serves wildlife needs, while also serving human needs but not at a high cost to these first two values.

Direct or indirect window access, task type, and performance

March 1994


90 Reads

Window access, task type, and the room (windowed or windowless) were manipulated to investigate their effects on performance and individuals' perceptions of the task and room. Students (n = 180) performed one of three tasks (filing, computational, creative) in either a windowed or windowless room, and had either a direct or indirect interaction with the window. Contrary to expectation, performance and perceptions were not affected by the interaction of window access, task type, and the room. Also, performance was not higher for those working in a room with a window. A marginal interaction effect (p < 0.10) indicated that the creative task is affected by the type of access. Also, the effects on perceptions of the task and room tend to indicate that windowed rooms do contribute a dynamic environment. Specifically, the windowed room appeared to effect more positive perceptions for the creative task. Interestingly, some positive perceptions about the monotonous task occurred in the windowless room; however, boredom tended to be reduced when one faced the window. Implications of these results and suggestions for future research are discussed.

Public responses to the Chernobyl accident

June 1990


1,034 Reads

The reactor accident at Chernobyl caught many European nations by surprise since most risk management institutions were unprepared for an accident of the magnitude and transnational character of Chernobyl. Although confusion and contradictory advice from these institutions dominated the risk management efforts in the early aftermath of the disaster, the dose savings achieved by protective actions were roughly proportional to the magnitude of the nuclear threat. The accident itself and the policies adopted to cope with the fallout had a major effect on public opinion. This effect was the more dramatic and enduring, the more a country was affected by the fallout and the higher the percentage of indifferent positions toward nuclear power was prior to the accident. The media certainly intensified public concern, but did not distort the seriousness of the risk or create confusion about what protection actions were adequate. The major lesson from the disaster is to have a better risk management and communication program in place before a disaster strikes.

Top-cited authors