Sexual orientation is a current issue in the field of environmental psychology that has elicited great controversy as to whether it occurs due to social interaction or it is a natural condition. Written by Michael Petit in 2011, the article, The Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues Task Force on Sexual Orientation, the Nature of The Sex, and the Contours of Activist Science, seeks to define homosexuality in the context of environmental psychology.
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The objective of the article is to enhance social awareness of homosexuality by providing social and psychological explanations with the view of diminishing societal prejudice. According to Pettit, “the ‘problem’ facing homosexuals is neither defective biology nor misdirected development, but an overwhelming societal prejudice that affects their self-esteem. …anti-homosexual prejudice itself is a sign of mental instability” (2011, p.96).
This means that sexual orientation does not only carry biological aspects, but also developmental aspects due to the social environment that has influenced societal perception and interaction. Due to the controversy surrounding the cause of the aberrant sexual orientation of homosexuality, psychology gifts are trying to attribute social environmental as one of the cause.
Sexual orientation is a social, biological, and psychological issue that has perplexed many experts concerning determinants of specific sexual orientation. The article suggests that homosexuality occurs due to social and biological factors that interact in the environment bringing about aberrant sexual orientation.
Following the suggestion, it implies that homosexuality occurs due to natural selection in that; anyone can become a homosexual given certain predisposing social, environmental conditions. Barker argues that “treat homosexuality not as an example of what can go wrong with a fundamental evolutionary adaptation for heterosexuality, but as an optional path of development whose evolutionary adaption was not obvious, and hence a puzzle worth investigating” (2008, p. 9).
Hence, environmental psychologists are investigating possible elements of the social environment that predisposes one to aberrant sexual orientations. Psychologists are rooting for the sociological perception of sexual orientation as a product of social interaction in social settings during development. Sexual development in children depends on the social environment that has a significant influence on psychosexual development.
“There continues to be a strong interest within environmental psychology to try and study human-environment relationship within the full contextual framework in which they occur, researchers are struggling to establish a causal relationship between social environment and development of homosexuality” (Gary, 1996, p.46).
Increasing movements of lesbians and gays across the world that are advocating for affirmative action have attracted a lot of environmental psychologists to ascertain if the social environment has any significant influence on sexual orientation. The issue of sexual orientation has a complex of determinants such as biological, sociological, and psychological factors that interplay resulting in varied sexual orientations.
According to environmental psychology, social environment plays a significant role in shaping ones’ sexual orientation, and thus choosing a favorable environment is an effective way of preventing homosexuality in society. Edgerton, Romance, and Spencer assert that “…to promote attitude change and pro-environmental behavior we need robust psychology to help us make crucial changes in our behaviors, thoughts, feelings, and values” (2007, p.18).
Thus, environmental psychology is very important in understanding the development of aberrant sexual orientation in society because the social environment has a significant effect in shaping human behaviors. This means that understanding and resolution of aberrant sexual behaviors in the community requires appropriate changes in the social environment as measures of environmental psychology.
Barker, R. (2008). Ecological Psychology: Concepts and Methods for Studying the Environment of Human Behavior. American Psychological Association, 1-14.
Edgerton, E., Romice, O., & Spencer, C. (2007). Environmental Psychology: Putting Research into Practice. New York: Cambridge Scholarship Publishing.
Gary, E. (1996). Current Trends in Environmental Psychology. American Psychologist, 51, 42-55.
Pettit, M. (2011). The Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues Task Force on Sexual Orientation, the Nature of Sex, and the Contours of Activist Science. Journal of Social Issues, 67(1), 92-105.