Social Psychologists and the Environment Studying

How do social psychologists’ study the environment and define new understandings and models for addressing environmental concerns?

Social psychologists study the environment by considering the individual-environment relation, for which goal they scrutinize “environmental perceptions, attitudes, evaluations and representations, and accompanying behavior” (Millon, Lerner, & Weiner, 2003, p. 421). They pay attention to the influence of the surroundings on people and to how people address the environment. As this can only be studied by considering real-world situations, social psychologists define new understandings and models by using inductive logic and the grounded theory approach.

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What is grounded theory analysis and how is this method used to understand people’s perceptions of issues?

Grounded theory is a method of analysis that constructs the theory from the obtained data, rather than pre-defining the theory and its basic concepts before the study. The researcher collects data that is focused on their issue by interacting with people (observing, interviewing, constructing histories with them, or using recorded materials) and uses it to formulate analytic codes, concepts, and categories; their correspondence to and consistency with the data are constantly checked. The literature review is only performed after the analysis to avoid biases (Smith, 2007, p. 82-83).

How would you describe the use of simulations to develop a model for environmental awareness and potential behavior?

Digital simulations can be used to create awareness of a person’s direct surroundings, which can prove useful e.g. people with disabilities (Stanton, Wilson, & Foreman, 1996). Likely, simulations can also be utilized to teach people to pay attention to some particular aspects of the environment (such as traffic signs) and act accordingly. The fact that simulations are used in the education of pilots indicates that these simulations have been deemed to be effective in modeling and training in behavior in particular circumstances.


Correa, T., Hinsley, A. W., & De Zúňiga, H. G. (2010). Who interacts on the Web?: The intersection of users’ personality and social media. Computers in Human Behavior, 26(2), 247-253.

Millon, T., Lerner, M. J., & Weiner, I. B. (Eds.). (2003). Handbook of psychology (Vol. 5: Personality and social psychology). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.

Smith, J. A. (Ed.). (2007). Qualitative psychology: A practical guide to research methods. London, UK: SAGE Publications Ltd.

Stanton, D., Wilson, P., & Foreman, N. (1996). Using virtual reality environments to aid spatial awareness in disabled children. Proceedings of the 1st European Conference on Disability, Virtual Reality and Associated Technologies, p. 93-101.

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