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Environmental Design Psychology Theory Research Paper

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Updated: Dec 25th, 2021


The aspects of environmental design are closely associated with the aspects of human psychology, and human interaction with the surrounding environment. The key aspects of the psychological approach define the environmental condition, which people will interact with. The sphere of environmental design, and related psychological approach towards it is aimed at developing a model of human nature, that will interact with the particular environment. The scientific approach of this sphere is aimed at developing the multidisciplinary focus, which will involve the aspects of human behavior, perception of colors and elements of design, and how people will develop the approaches of wayfinding among the settings of any particular design. Considering the aspects of design for veterans, it should be emphasized that the entire approach will also involve the effect of environmental stresses on human behavior from the perspective of adaptability of the design towards veterans’ needs and requirements. This paper aims to analyze the environmental design psychology perspective, as well as analyze the key theories of environmental design, and the related psychological approach.


  • Environment – the combination of surrounding of any object
  • Built environment – human-made surroundings
  • Natural environment – all living and non-living things on the planet
  • Designed environment – artificially created environment
  • Social environment – social positions and roles that influence the individuals of any group
  • Behavioral environment – the impression, which is formed by the environment, and behavior, caused by this impression.
  • Design – panning and creation of a system
  • Interior design – creative and technical solutions to create an interior environment
  • Environmental design – means addressing environmental parameters when creating designing plans
  • Behavior – the set of actions, originated by the surrounding
  • Environmental behavior – the behavior of a living organism within the particular environmental set
  • Theory – set of presumptions, viewings and beholding
  • Psychology – study of mental functions and behaviors
  • Environmental design psychology – study of mental reactions and behavior, caused by the environment
  • Environmental design theory – theoretic basis of addressing environmental parameters when creating designing plans

Psychological Perspective

The key notion of the psychological perspective, related to the surrounding environment and design is “how the environment makes people feel”. Thus, the key aim of environmental design is to maintain people’s well-being, associated with the perception of colors and details of design. Following Johnson (1994), environmental psychology, the aspects which should be considered are architectural psychology, ecological psychology, the principles of environment behavior, sociological perspective of the environment, and social ecology. In fact, some of these aspects are not applicable for studying the design of spaces of veterans, however, the realization of the importance of these aspects will help to provide clear and definite research, aimed at discovering the aspects of the built environment, natural environment, designed environment, social environment and behavioral environment in the paper.

The environmental psychology approach is regarded from several perspectives. These are micro (or personal), and Macro levels, which define the key factors of environment, and their influence on personal perception of environmental components. Following the research by Edwards (2006), the personal level is used for making people’s homes more attractive for living, and providing them with a sense of well-being. The macro-level is applied for creating entire communities, associated with the functionality of the environment, as well as making it more inviting for living. In fact, both of these approaches should be used for analyzing the required built environment, associated with the spaces for veterans, and their accommodation which will provide their psychological adaptation. Thus, personal approach will be required for building the inner environment of the accommodation centers, and private rooms for veterans, while macro approach will be required for creating the designed environment of the entire accommodation complex, including the outlook of the building, design of inner spaces, location of different departments, administrative spaces as well as technical storages. The color gamma, and combination of design elements will be regarded from the perspective of veterans’ moods and the adaptability level of every lodger. However, the personal level should be paid particular attention, and following Moor (1985, p. 312), the following statement should be emphasized:

At a personal level, working knowledge of environmental psychology can be used to great advantage when it comes to selling one’s home more quickly and at a higher price. When a homeowner is familiar with environmental psychology techniques and understands what makes a home aesthetically pleasing, they can use that information to “stage” their home before putting it on the market, thus making it considerably more appealing to potential buyers, even if the effects of environmental psychology are too subtle to be recognized at a conscious level.

In the light of this statement, the necessity to pay attention to environmental design behavior is closely associated with the personal perception of the surrounding design, and the importance of balanced design and environment is closely linked with the importance of traditional approaches towards creating the adaptation centers for various personalities. Additionally, the scientific basis of psychological environment approach is becoming increasingly important for society. Thus, the designed environment should be close to the aspects of natural environment, and these should be closely associated with natural colors and design components for better adaptation of veterans. In fact, the color gamma should originate calm and stable mood of those, who will dwell within the designed environment, and it should not be aggressive, or with bright colors, which may cause color stress and further aggression. The aesthetic approach of design is regarded as the key aspect for the overall improvement of quality of human life, as the environment, where a human dwells should be relaxing enough for having rest from daily stresses. Thus, the actual importance of aesthetic design for veterans should provide a sufficient stress-free level (Walsh, Craik et.al, 2000).

Practical Perspective of Environment Building

By Nickerson (2003), natural environment is the least stressful among all the possible design variants. In fact, the environment, which is created for veterans should correspond to this feature, and the actual importance of stress-free designed environments is explained by the psychological accommodation requirements. Nevertheless, the design components should be selected with care. Thus, there is a strong necessity to consider the place of veterans’ service, and try not to remind them of the seats of war, where they had participated. For instance, the spaces for Vietnam veterans should not remind of Asian jungles, and those, who have returned from Iraq should not be reminded of desert. The design should be as neutral as possible; however, natural elements should be added for controlling the environmental behavior of lodgers, and keeping this behavior within the frames of relaxation and accommodation activity. Colors, textures, patterns elements should be natural, and, preferably, made of natural materials. Additionally to the nature of inner design, the naturalness of materials will provide the positive environment and lack of harmful emissions of low-quality artificial materials.

Additionally, the factor of place identity should be considered, while creating an environmental design of the spaces for veterans. The aspects of place identity are described by Lang (1974, p. 141):

As a person interacts with various places and spaces, he/she can evaluate which properties in different environments fulfill his/her various needs. When a place contains components that satisfy a person biologically, socially, psychologically and/or culturally, it creates the environmental past of a person. Through ‘good’ or ‘bad’ experiences with a place, a person is then able to reflect and define their personal values, attitudes, feelings and beliefs about the physical world.

In the light of this statement, it should be emphasized that the actual value of this factor is explained by the possibility of returning a person to a place where he or she was happy, by the means of memories. Thus, the accommodation place may remind of veteran’s life before the military campaign, remind of the house of his or her childhood etc. However, extensive work by psychologists will be required.

Another factor, which needs essential consideration is the principle of place attachment. On the one hand, the space should be attractive enough for veterans who were attached to it, as high levels of attachment presuppose high-stress suppression levels. On the other hand, lodgers should not be attached extensively to these spaces, as the accommodation programs presuppose the restricted staying of veterans in the accommodation centers. As Lang (1987) emphasized, the factor of attachment is the kind of emotional tie to a place. These ties are often originated by long-term staying within a certain environment:

This is different from a simple aesthetic response such as saying a certain place is special because it is beautiful. For example, one can have an emotional response to a beautiful (or ugly) landscape or place, but this response may sometimes be shallow. The definition of “meaning” is “the thoughts, feelings, memories and interpretations evoked by a landscape”; whereas “preference” is “the degree of liking for one landscape compared to another”. For a deeper and lasting emotional attachment to develop an enduring relationship with a place is usually a critical factor (Lang, 1987, p. 281).

Theory of Environmental Design

The theoretical approach of the environmental design principles should be based on the required aspects of psychological care, as well as the functionality of the created design. In accordance with Bechtel and Churchman (2002), the best theoretic solution will be the theory of supportive healthcare design. Thus, the principles of this approach presuppose the high adaptability level, jointly with the high functionality both for lodgers and for technical personnel. It is based on the presumption that most patients are subjected to stress, which should be conquered by the patients themselves, thus, they need the corresponding environment, for staying psychologically stable, and for further overcoming of stress. Additionally, as Nickerson (2003, p. 312) stated:

Stress is a problem for families of patients and visitors, and is pervasive among healthcare staff. In the case of patients, stress is an important medical concern because it is both a significant health outcome in itself, and directly and negatively affects many other outcomes. Negative health effects stem from the fact that stress responses include numerous psychological/emotional, physiological, biochemical, and behavioral changes.

Thus, the environment, created for veterans should entail all the necessary factors for stress overcoming. These are the absence of aggressive colors, reminders of military actions, violence, murders, etc. In fact, these are the basic factors of theoretical approach, nevertheless, additional individual work will be required for proper fitting of the environment.

As for the aspects of functionality, it should be emphasized that the location of technical storage, administrative spaces and spaces for technical personnel accommodation should be located considering the possible disabilities of veterans, and should be easily accessible. This will be regarded within the frames of designed environment approaches, and based on the principles of environmental design experience of other adaptation centers for veterans.


Environmental design approaches, which will be used for designing spaces for veterans. Additionally, the aspects of psychological approaches will be considered for adjusting the environment for each veteran personally. The theoretic approach, which will be used for designing the environment, is associated with supportive healthcare design, which presupposes the lowering of stress levels of the designed environment. Thus, designing of spaces for veterans should lack the aggressive moments, and be designed of natural materials with natural mild colors, and using natural patterns for decorations. This approach would guarantee the normal accommodation of veterans, and a stable mood, aimed at defeating stresses.

Reference List

  1. Bechtel, R.B., Churchman, A. (2002) Handbook of Environmental Psychology. New Jercey: Wiley publishing
  2. Edwards, B. W. (2006). Environmental Design and Educational Performance with Particular Reference to ‘green’ Schools in Hampshire and Essex. 14
  3. Johnson, P.A., (1994) The Theory of Architecture: Concepts, Themes & Practices. Mahwah, NJ: Van Nostrand Reinhold
  4. Lang J. (1987) Creating Architectural Theory: The Role of the Behavioral Sciences in Environmental Design. Mahwah, NJ: Van Nostrand Reinhold Publishing
  5. Lang. J (1974) Designing for human behavior: architecture and the behavioral sciences. Dowden: Hutchinson & Ross
  6. Moor, G. (1985) Environmental design research directions: process and prospects. Kyoto University. Praeger Publishers.
  7. Nickerson, R. S. (2003). Psychology and Environmental Change. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
  8. Walsh, W. B., Craik, K. H., & Price, R. H. (Eds.). (2000). Person-Environment Psychology: New Directions and Perspectives (2nd ed.). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
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