Volumen 4.1


Medio Ambiente y Comportamiento Humano

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People-Environment Interaction and Environmental Action. An Introduction

Ricardo García-Mira* & J. Eulogio Real**

Guest Editors

*Universidad de A Coruña; Spain

**Universidad de Santiago de Compostela; Spain

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Person-Environment Knowledge: Instrumentality, Interpretation, Promotion

Guido Francescato

University of Maryland; USA


This paper deals with ontological, cultural, methodological, and epistemological dimensions of person-environment theory. It suggests that the conventional metaphor that calls for bridging the gap between research and practice is unhelpful and should be replaced by a framework that addresses three points critical to the discourse on person-environment knowledge.

First, we need to consider its instrumentality, that is the specificity of the tasks to which such knowledge is supposed to apply. Policy making and design, for example, are substantially different, if ideally complementary, tasks that require different kinds of knowledge. In particular, design-relevant knowledge must take into account the fact that the objects that constitute the environment tend to derive their value from their uniqueness while research seeks generalization.

Second, we need to accept the inevitability of interpretation as a process that mediates between the generation of knowledge and its application. Attention to interpretation is a necessary component of person-environment studies because the praxis--whether in research or interventions--is never value- or ideology-free. This does not imply that knowledge is subjective, merely that applicability requires, among other things, that value and assumption systems be explicitly examined and their linkages to proposed actions be exposed.

Finally, we should recognize that the built environment is not only a mirror of society, but also a participant in its construction. This implies that the environment has a persuasive and promotional role that research cannot ignore. The dynamics of the processes of intention and fruition in the built environment have been surprisingly absent from person-environment studies, yet it is precisely from these processes that the environment derives its power to affect our lives.

Key-words: Person-Environment Knowledge, Instrumentality, Interpretation, Promotion.

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New Partnerships for Action. Building on the Capital of Environmental Psychology and Architecture

Ombretta Romice

University of Strathclyde; U.K.


Involving community groups in the design process concerning their city or neighbourhood, can play a constructive role in creating responsive environments and, as a result, achieve a higher level of satisfaction for communities.

This calls for stronger and more pervasive focus upon building communities (from a social, economic, environmental, technological and public policy perspective); designers are ideally suited to lead such efforts, but not alone. Professional education is an especially valuable training camp in that it shows, explains, encourages, challenges, questions, leaves freedom of expression, reinforces thoughts and provides discipline. This paper argues that engaging students of architecture into live design projects with community groups can help develop in students important intellectual, critical, professional and social skills of support and reinforcement to the discipline, have a positive impact on the community groups, and finally it can have positive effects of the perception that society has of academic institutions. The paper also shows that the collaboration between students of different disciplines can enrich this learning process; presenting a joint project developed by students of architecture and of environmental psychology, it shows the potential long-term strengths and impacts of such a collaboration.

The experience illustrated had significant implications on students’ academic performance and on the spirit of some of the participants involved in the work. Implications for students’ education and training and on the development and reinforcement of the community’s capacity building will be discussed and suggestions for curriculum development presented.

Key-words: Partnerships, Environmental Psychology, Architecture.

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Social and Spatial Segregation of The Moinantes in Carballo (A Coruña)

Julia Regueiro & Ricardo García-Mira

Social Psychology Laboratory, Universidad de A Coruña; Spain


The word moinante is a socially loaded term: it is in fact a social representation, taking this to refer to the organising principles of symbolic relationships between individuals and groups (Doise, 2001). In our context, this has been proved to be true, since several members of the non-moinante population included in our study shared common points of view regarding the group of moinantes.

This research was carried out in the Parish of St. John the Baptist in Carballo, the principal town of the Region of Bergantiños, which is one of the 53 regions into which the Autonomous Community of Galicia is divided. One of the main objectives of the work was to explore the cognitive map for moinantes population. We could explore its existence as a group, as well as its physical and social segregation in poor quarters where nobody who doesn't belong to this ethnic group would like to live. Moinantes poor quarters are associated to insecurity and bad life.

Dimensions derived by Multidimensional Scaling confirm two set of well differentiated neighbourhoods in this area, with different levels of safety, as well with presence or absence of criminal activities. Some aspects related to marginalisation, and other characteristics of this ethnic group are discussed.

Key-words: Social Segregation, Spatial Segregation, Ethnic discrimination

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Social Dangers as Constraints for Pro-Environmental Travel Modes - the Perception of Parents in England and Sweden.

Maria Johansson

Environmental Psychology Unit. Lund Institute of Technology; Sweden


The paper explores parental perception of social dangers in the urban environment as a constraint for children to walk and cycle. Group discussions with 37 Swedish and 35 English parents of 7 to 12 year old children revealed that social dangers related to strangers, criminality and drugs concerned parents in both countries. These concerns also influenced travel mode choices for their children’s journeys. To protect their children from the perceived dangers, parents chose to chauffeur and accompany them as well as employ various strategies related to fear of crime. The level of protection was generally higher among the English than the Swedish parents. Further more, the perception of social dangers was discussed in relation to media, design of the physical environment and sense of community in the neighbourhood, as well as the child’s capability and preferences. It is concluded that traffic dangers and social dangers must be considered in parallel if we are to prevent new barriers against children’s pro-environmental travel modes when designing traffic safe routes.

Key-words: Social dangers, Travel, Perception, Intercultural Study

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Life, environment, self, and sport satisfaction

José V. Pestana, Mercè Rosich & Núria Codina

Dpto. de Psicología Social, Universidad de Barcelona; Spain


We analyze the relationship between life, environment, self and sport satisfaction. Participants were 1,590 students aged 12-14 from Manresa (Barcelona). Life satisfaction was assessed by the Satisfaction Life Student Scale (SLSS —Huebner, 1991), which tests global life satisfaction. For environment and self satisfaction, specific items from Multidimensional Satisfaction Life Students Scale (MSLSS —Huebner, 1994) were considered. Sport satisfaction was measured with the Sport Satisfaction Scale (ESE by its Catalan acronym —Rosich, 1999). Results show that sport can act as a mediator in satisfaction. In addition to this, gender differences have suggested some alternatives to study satisfaction; specifically, we propose to consider satisfaction related to diverse leisure activities incidence.

Key-words: Life satisfaction, Environment satisfaction, Sport, Self, Leisure.


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