Sunday, December 1, 2013

The Effects of Population Density and Noise

The Effects of Population Density and Noise
     There are a variety of factors that affect an individual. Among these factors are population density and noise. When an individual’s territory, privacy, and personal space is infringed upon, the individual can feel various effects. These effects can range from annoyance to anxiety and anxiety disorders. As population density increases making territory, privacy, and personal space infringed upon, provisions should be made to avoid the effects of crowding causing anxiety and other problems.

Territoriality, Privacy, and Personal Space
     Territoriality is used to describe the link between the environment and behavior of an individual (Edney, 1974). Territoriality is also used to describe the set of behaviors an individual has in response to the physical environment. These behaviors are used exclusively by the individual. Human territoriality is related to the territoriality seen in animals. However, human territoriality is usually not about survival like human territoriality. Humans are known to be territorial over spaces owned or using. When a human feels their space is being infringed, they become protective over such spaces.
     According to Altman (1977), privacy is “the selective control of access to the self, involving dialectic, optimization, and multimodal processes” (p. 67). Privacy does not only refer to an individual alone, but also to the individual’s interactions with others. Privacy is the process where an individual can sometimes make themselves available or unavailable to others (Altman, 1977). Privacy is different for each individual and situation.
     Personal space is the distance an individual chooses to keep between themselves and others. Personal space and territoriality are both used by individuals to maintain privacy. Sommer (1969) defined personal space as “an area with invisible boundaries surrounding a person’s body into which intruders may not come” (p. 26). Personal space is also different for each individual and situation.

  Territoriality, Privacy, and Personal Space as Population Density Increases
     In a study by John Calhoun, rats were used to demonstrate living conditions and population density (Straub, 2007). This study showed that the rats behaved normally while they had sufficient space. As the population increased and space decreased, the social behavior of the rats also decreased. The rats became more territorial and defending the space they considered personal. These studies may not demonstrate a human reaction; however, the studies show that population density does affect populations.
     An effect of population density is crowding. Crowding affects individuals on making them feel confined which leads to reactions of aggression, withdrawal, and inappropriate social interactions. Privacy, personal space, and territoriality should be honored in an effort to decrease crowding. Therefore, these three should be respected as a basic need. Individuals who feel they have lost control of privacy and personal space react negatively. In order for an individual to perceive their space as adequate, a space should be designed to appear bigger than it is (Straub, 2007). This, in turn, will reduce the perception of crowding.     

The Effect of Nature on Individuals in Urban Environments
     Zoos, parks, and other green areas can help individuals have interaction with nature. These interactions aid individuals in obtaining environmental identity that lacks in urban environments. Previous theories stated that natural environments affected the health of individuals. More modern research upholds these theories. A Japanese study reported that green spaces close to residences resulted in lower mortality rates (Clayton & Myers, 2009). Residents of greener environments also had less violence, closer relationships, and more positive social reactions. 

 Noise and its Effects on Individuals
     Health psychologists have conducted studies to learn the relationship between noise and individuals. Stress is a serious condition caused by increased blood levels and cortisol levels (Straub, 2007). Therefore, chronic exposure to noise can lead to cardiovascular disease. Children exposed to noise may not learn as they should. Straub (2007) has also concluded that loud noise affects short – term memory and the ability to perform tasks. The more disturbing the noise, the more it will affect the individual. Noise also affects sleep and may cause anxiety; thus affecting the health of an individual. An individual may be more stressed over a noise they do not have control over. 

 Noise Reduction Strategies
     Two noise reduction strategies are using fabric as a reducer and masking noises. Fabric over windows and as wall d├ęcor can help eliminate noise entering from the outside. Stuffed furnishings may also help with this elimination. Insulation within the walls serves as a noise buffer. Covering windows with fabric closely simulates the insulation, by trapping sounds. Carpeting also serves as a noise reducer and is better than hard floors.
     Masking noise with other sounds can also help reduce noise. There are machines that can be purchased to mask sounds. Other simple items such as a fan can also help reduce sounds. This masking is called white noise. While this method does not eliminate the noise, it lowers an individual’s awareness of them.

      Territoriality, privacy, and personal space are personal choices and vary between individuals. The effects on an individual also vary. Studies show that limited space does negatively affect individuals. In urban environments, these effects can be aggression, violence, and poor interactions. Noise can be a simple annoyance or can cause severe health problems. In an effort to reduce the effects of noise, noise reduction strategies are used. Population density and noise affect individuals although differently.


Altman, I. (1977). Privacy regulation: culturally universal or culturally specific? Journal of Social Issues, 33(3), 66-84.

Clayton, S., & Myers, G. (2009). Conservation psychology. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Blackwell.

Edney, J. J. (1974). Human territoriality. Psychological Bulletin, 81(12), 959-975. doi:

Sommer, R. (1969). Personal space; the behavioral basis of design. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Straub, R. O. (2007). Health psychology (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Worth

Plagiarism: Using someone else's work without giving proper credit, is plagiarism. If you use my work, please reference it.  

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Environmental Psychology

Environmental Psychology
     There are many subfields in psychology. One of the newer subfields is environmental psychology. Environmental psychology became recognized in the 1960s around the time the awareness of environmental problems occurred. This awareness helped form a greener environmental psychology (Steg, 2013).

     Environmental psychology involves individuals and the environment around them. Environment in relation to this field of psychology is expanded past an individual’s natural surroundings. Environmental psychology also includes built environments, cultural groups, and social settings (American Psychological Association, 2013). Therefore, environmental psychology is the study of the individual and the environment, both built and natural. Environmental psychology examines the effect of the environment on individuals and vice versa.

     In the 1960s, there was an awareness of environmental problems (Steg, 2013). This awareness brought about studies on issues such as air pollution and urban noise. These studies aided researchers in explaining negative influenced of human behavior on the environment and ultimately trying to change these influences (Steg, 2013). The topics studied expanded in the next decade. The new topics to be studied included energy supply and demand and growing technologies. In the 1980s, studies focused on conservation behaviors. These studies are valuable in learning how individuals affect the environment and brought notice to the subfield of environmental psychology.

     A relatively new subfield of psychology, environmental psychology studies the relationship between individuals and environment. Early awareness and studies of the effects of individuals on environment and vice versa prompted the formation of environmental psychology.   

American Psychological Association. (2013). Careers in Psychology. Retrieved from

Steg, L. (2013). Environmental psychology: An introduction. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Blackwell.

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Monday, October 28, 2013

Ethnic Group Conflict

Ethnic Group Conflict
     Cultural conformity is found in every culture. However, when this conformity is based upon negative and distorted social perceptions, conflict such as the Palestinian – Israeli conflict is formed. The distorted views between the two religions have led to a conflict spanning generations. Through negative stereotypes, the two regions have been in conflict without hope of peace. The distortions in religions have led to a more political conflict. Generations of negative social perceptions have led to generations of people filled with hate. 

Cultural Conformity
     Conformity is defined as the “changing or adopting of a behavior or attitude in order to be consistent with the social norms of a group” (Wood, Wood,  & Boyd, 2011, p 545). Psychologists believe that some conformity is needed in order to have a functioning society. Conformity is a universal process. However, some cultures have variations in conformity. Researchers have made some key observations in relation to conformity. Researchers concluded that conformity is higher when a person must respond publicly rather than privately (McGraw Hill, 2010). Researchers have also concluded that individuals working on a task with no clear answer are more susceptible to social pressure and conformity. Irving Janis applied the concept of groupthink to tightly knit groups. Groupthink is the “tendency for members of a group to be more concerned with preserving group solidarity and uniformity than with objectively evaluating all alternatives” (Wood, Wood, & Boyd, 2011, p 545). Groupthink discredits outside views. Because of groupthink, a group may believe they make no mistakes.  
     In Palestine the primary religion is Sunni Islam; whereas, the primary religion in Israel is Judaism. Each group behaves and is characterized by the religious doctrine of the region. Religious and political conformity is of importance in both regions (Hofman, 1977). Both Judaism and Islamic cultures have strict expectations and rules. In both cultures, it is expected that these expectations and rules be followed. Because of these rules, there is strict religious conformity in the region. There are severe political and religious conflicts between the Judaism nation of Israel and the Islamic nation of Palestine. Many of the current issues are due to extremist groups who have created their own set of rules and desire conformity to them. The religions of both regions have a role in creating the culture and lifestyle of the region. According to Cohen (1990), religion is a cultural variable that affects the understanding between societies or nations. The attitudes of each culture have created political issues that appear to be irreconcilable. 

Social Perception and Social Cognition
     Social perception is the process that an individual “uses to obtain critically important information about other people” (Wood, Wood,  & Boyd, 2011, p 541). Social cognition is the mental process that an individual uses to interpret information about the world. Based upon these definitions, social perception is a function of social cognition. Individuals use experiences to make future decisions. Through social experiences, an individual develops attitudes and beliefs. Social perception is rooted deeply in culture. Therefore, an individual raised in similar environments view experiences as similar. However, an individual exposed to different environments tend to view experiences in different ways. The social cognition processes an individual uses to categorize the world are also the processes that may distort the view of the world.
     The perspectives of the Palestinians and Israelis have contributed to the conflicting views of the regions. The views that the two regions have of each other are based on the stereotypes they hold of each other. The conflict of each group has been distorted through the social perceptions of the other group. Because of these distortions, the exact demands of each group have become unclear.
The theory of attitude balance can be considered important in social perception. The theory of attitude balance states that an individual seeks consistency in their attitudes and beliefs (Spector, 2008). An individual will overestimate the positive characteristics of those individuals they like. In contrast, an individual will underestimate positive characteristics and emphasize negative characteristics of those individuals they do not like (Heider, 1959). When applying this theory to the Palestinian – Israeli conflict, it can be concluded that each group emphasizes the negative of the other group. These perceptions are then taught to each generation. This creates the age – old conflict inflicting the region today.

Social Perceptions that Require Change
     Both Judaism and Islam have roots of Abrahamic origin (Esposito, Fasching,  & Lewis, 2009). However, both sides refuse to acknowledge these similarities. These two religions, along with Christianity, are similar and connected. The histories of these three religions include many of the same people and stories (Esposito, Fasching,  & Lewis, 2009). While Christianity, Judaism, and Islam have common beliefs, they also have doctrine and practice differences. These differences are emphasized by the other group and have contributed to the conflict.
     Older generations are continuing to instill the feelings of hatred in younger generations. As long as this practice continues, the Palestinian – Israeli conflict will continue. Children are impressionable; therefore, they are able to be conformed to the hatred that their elders cling on to. Until these children become adults and are able to learn another perception, the cultural perceptions they are conformed to are dominant. Both groups need to form and accept new perceptions. Until this is done, the conflict will remain.
     Individuals are more probable to change their negative perceptions when they acknowledge that the other group may have similar attitudes and beliefs (Byrne, 1961). The religions of Judaism and Islam have similarities. Acknowledgement of these similarities can be a starting point for peace negotiations between Palestine and Israel. Communication related to religious ideals may begin resolution between these groups. This resolution is important in order to maintain the Holy Land important to both religions (Esposito, Fasching,  & Lewis, 2009). 

      An easy solution to the Palestinian – Israeli conflict is unlikely. However, the changing of social perceptions based on religion is an ideal place to begin. The Palestinian – Israeli conflict is deeply rooted in religion which turned political. The two religions of Judaism and Islam are deeply connected; thus creating a starting point for resolution. Religious communication between the two regions may play a key role in the future of peace between the two groups. Embracing the similarities between the two groups is one way in which to begin changing the social perceptions affecting them.     

Byrne, D. (1961). Interpersonal attraction and attitude similarity. The Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 62(3), 713 - 715. doi:10.1037/h0044721

Cohen, R. (1990). Culture and conflict in Egyptian-Israeli relations: a dialogue of the deaf. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.

Esposito, J. L., Fasching, D. J., & Lewis, T. (2009). World Religions Today (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Heider, F. (1959). The psychology of interpersonal relations. New York, NY: Wiley.

Hofman, J. (1977). Identity and intergroup perception in Israel. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 1(3), 79-102. doi:10.1016/0147-1767(77)90021-9

McGraw Hill (2010). PsychSmart. New York, NY: Author.

Spector, P. E. (2008). Industrial and Organizational Psychology: research and practice (5th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

Wood, S. E., Wood, E. G., & Boyd, D. (2011). The world of psychology (7th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson/ Allyn Bacon.

Plagiarism: Using someone else's work without giving proper credit, is plagiarism. If you use my work, please reference it.