NCERT Textbook - Psychology and Life Humanities/Arts Notes | EduRev

Psychology Class 12

Humanities/Arts : NCERT Textbook - Psychology and Life Humanities/Arts Notes | EduRev

 Page 1


Psychology
152
PSY PSY
PSY PSY PSYCHOLOG CHOLOG
CHOLOG CHOLOG CHOLOGY AND LIFE Y AND LIFE
Y AND LIFE Y AND LIFE Y AND LIFE
Introduction
Human-Environment Relationship
Different Views of the Human-Environment Relationship
The Bishnois and the Chipko Movement (Box 8.1)
Environmental Effects on Human Behaviour
Human Influence on the Environment
Noise
Pollution
Crowding
Natural Disasters
Promoting Pro-environmental Behaviour
Psychology and Social Concerns
Poverty and Discrimination
Aggression, Violence, and Peace
Mahatma Gandhi on Non-violence : Why Does
Non-violence Work (Box 8.2)
Health
Impact of Television on Behaviour
CONTENTS
Key Terms
Summary
Review Questions
Project Ideas
Weblinks
Pedagogical Hints
After reading this chapter, you would be able to:
understand how psychology can be applied to common problems in our lives,
appreciate the relationship between human beings and the environment,
analyse how pro-environmental behaviour helps to deal with environmental stressors,
explain the causes and consequences of  social problems from a psychological perspective,
and
learn about the possible remedies of problems such as poverty, aggression, and health.
Page 2


Psychology
152
PSY PSY
PSY PSY PSYCHOLOG CHOLOG
CHOLOG CHOLOG CHOLOGY AND LIFE Y AND LIFE
Y AND LIFE Y AND LIFE Y AND LIFE
Introduction
Human-Environment Relationship
Different Views of the Human-Environment Relationship
The Bishnois and the Chipko Movement (Box 8.1)
Environmental Effects on Human Behaviour
Human Influence on the Environment
Noise
Pollution
Crowding
Natural Disasters
Promoting Pro-environmental Behaviour
Psychology and Social Concerns
Poverty and Discrimination
Aggression, Violence, and Peace
Mahatma Gandhi on Non-violence : Why Does
Non-violence Work (Box 8.2)
Health
Impact of Television on Behaviour
CONTENTS
Key Terms
Summary
Review Questions
Project Ideas
Weblinks
Pedagogical Hints
After reading this chapter, you would be able to:
understand how psychology can be applied to common problems in our lives,
appreciate the relationship between human beings and the environment,
analyse how pro-environmental behaviour helps to deal with environmental stressors,
explain the causes and consequences of  social problems from a psychological perspective,
and
learn about the possible remedies of problems such as poverty, aggression, and health.
Chapter 8 • Psychology and Life
153
HUMAN-ENVIRONMENT RELATIONSHIP
Take a moment and try to answer these
questions : Can a tree be your ‘best friend’?
When it gets hot, or when it is crowded,
do people become more aggressive? If rivers
are said to be holy, why do people make
them dirty? How can one remedy the
traumatic effects of a natural disaster such
as an earthquake or tsunami, or of a man-
made disaster such as a poisonous gas
leak in a factory? Compare two children
who grow up in different physical
environments, one in an environment filled
with colourful toys, pictures and books,
and the other in an environment that
contains only the bare necessities of life.
Will the two children develop the same
kind of cognitive skills? People might give
different answers to these questions.
In the previous two chapters, you read about some topics related to social
behaviour and groups. We will now reflect on a set of social concerns with
a wider scope, which are linked to each other and involve psychological
aspects. These issues have to be understood and resolved at the level of
the community rather than the individual. It is now known that besides
affecting our physical health, the environment also influences our
psychological processes and behaviour. Human beings also influence the
environment through their behaviour, and some of these effects are
demonstrated in stress-producing environmental conditions, such as noise,
pollution and crowding.  At the same time, environmental stressors such as
natural disasters are not under human control. Many damaging
environmental effects can be reduced with the help of environment-friendly
behaviour and a state of preparedness. You will read about the causes and
consequences of some social problems such as aggression and violence,
health, and poverty and discrimination. You will also get a glimpse of how
poverty and deprivation can make people victims of discrimination and
social exclusion. An environment of poverty and deprivation has far-reaching
implications for developing human potential, social harmony and mental
health. Some ways of reducing poverty are also described. In addition,
psychological aspects of health, and the impact of television viewing on
violence as well as other forms of behaviour are explained. This chapter
will show you how psychological understanding can be applied practically
to aspects such as pro-environmental behaviour, the reduction of violence
and discrimination, and promotion of positive health attitudes.
Introduction
    A common idea that comes out of these
questions is that the relationship between
human behaviour and the environment
plays a special role in our lives. These
days, there is a growing awareness that
environmental problems such as noise,
air, water and soil pollution, and
unsatisfactory ways of garbage disposal
have damaging effects on physical health.
Less known is the fact that these forms of
pollution, along with many other hidden
factors in the environment, influence
psychological health and functioning as
well. A branch of psychology called
environmental psychology deals with
various psychological issues pertaining to
the human-environment interaction in a
very broad sense of the term.
    The word ‘environment’ refers to all
that is around us, literally everything that
Page 3


Psychology
152
PSY PSY
PSY PSY PSYCHOLOG CHOLOG
CHOLOG CHOLOG CHOLOGY AND LIFE Y AND LIFE
Y AND LIFE Y AND LIFE Y AND LIFE
Introduction
Human-Environment Relationship
Different Views of the Human-Environment Relationship
The Bishnois and the Chipko Movement (Box 8.1)
Environmental Effects on Human Behaviour
Human Influence on the Environment
Noise
Pollution
Crowding
Natural Disasters
Promoting Pro-environmental Behaviour
Psychology and Social Concerns
Poverty and Discrimination
Aggression, Violence, and Peace
Mahatma Gandhi on Non-violence : Why Does
Non-violence Work (Box 8.2)
Health
Impact of Television on Behaviour
CONTENTS
Key Terms
Summary
Review Questions
Project Ideas
Weblinks
Pedagogical Hints
After reading this chapter, you would be able to:
understand how psychology can be applied to common problems in our lives,
appreciate the relationship between human beings and the environment,
analyse how pro-environmental behaviour helps to deal with environmental stressors,
explain the causes and consequences of  social problems from a psychological perspective,
and
learn about the possible remedies of problems such as poverty, aggression, and health.
Chapter 8 • Psychology and Life
153
HUMAN-ENVIRONMENT RELATIONSHIP
Take a moment and try to answer these
questions : Can a tree be your ‘best friend’?
When it gets hot, or when it is crowded,
do people become more aggressive? If rivers
are said to be holy, why do people make
them dirty? How can one remedy the
traumatic effects of a natural disaster such
as an earthquake or tsunami, or of a man-
made disaster such as a poisonous gas
leak in a factory? Compare two children
who grow up in different physical
environments, one in an environment filled
with colourful toys, pictures and books,
and the other in an environment that
contains only the bare necessities of life.
Will the two children develop the same
kind of cognitive skills? People might give
different answers to these questions.
In the previous two chapters, you read about some topics related to social
behaviour and groups. We will now reflect on a set of social concerns with
a wider scope, which are linked to each other and involve psychological
aspects. These issues have to be understood and resolved at the level of
the community rather than the individual. It is now known that besides
affecting our physical health, the environment also influences our
psychological processes and behaviour. Human beings also influence the
environment through their behaviour, and some of these effects are
demonstrated in stress-producing environmental conditions, such as noise,
pollution and crowding.  At the same time, environmental stressors such as
natural disasters are not under human control. Many damaging
environmental effects can be reduced with the help of environment-friendly
behaviour and a state of preparedness. You will read about the causes and
consequences of some social problems such as aggression and violence,
health, and poverty and discrimination. You will also get a glimpse of how
poverty and deprivation can make people victims of discrimination and
social exclusion. An environment of poverty and deprivation has far-reaching
implications for developing human potential, social harmony and mental
health. Some ways of reducing poverty are also described. In addition,
psychological aspects of health, and the impact of television viewing on
violence as well as other forms of behaviour are explained. This chapter
will show you how psychological understanding can be applied practically
to aspects such as pro-environmental behaviour, the reduction of violence
and discrimination, and promotion of positive health attitudes.
Introduction
    A common idea that comes out of these
questions is that the relationship between
human behaviour and the environment
plays a special role in our lives. These
days, there is a growing awareness that
environmental problems such as noise,
air, water and soil pollution, and
unsatisfactory ways of garbage disposal
have damaging effects on physical health.
Less known is the fact that these forms of
pollution, along with many other hidden
factors in the environment, influence
psychological health and functioning as
well. A branch of psychology called
environmental psychology deals with
various psychological issues pertaining to
the human-environment interaction in a
very broad sense of the term.
    The word ‘environment’ refers to all
that is around us, literally everything that
Psychology
154
surrounds us, including the physical,
social, work, and cultural environment. In
general, it includes all the forces outside
human beings to which they respond in
some way. In the present section, the
discussion will centre around the physical
environment.  ‘Ecology’ is the study of the
relationships between living beings and
their environment. In psychology, the focus
is on the interdependence between
the environment and people, as the
environment becomes meaningful with
reference to the human beings who live in
it. In this context, a distinction can be
made between the natural environment
and the built environment. As the name
itself suggests, that part of nature which
remains untouched by human hand is the
natural environment. On the other hand,
whatever has been created by human
beings within the natural environment is
the built environment. Cities, houses,
offices, factories, bridges, shopping malls,
railway tracks, roads, dams, and even
artificially created parks and ponds are
some examples of the built environment
which show how human beings have made
changes in the environment given by
nature.
    The built environment usually involves
the concept of environmental design.
The idea of ‘design’ contains some
psychological features, such as :
? The creativity of the human mind, as
expressed in the work of architects,
town planners and civil engineers.
? The sense of human control over the
natural environment, as shown in the
building of dams to regulate the natural
flow of rivers.
? The influence on the kind of social
interaction that takes place in the
designed environment. This feature is
reflected, for instance, in the distance
between houses in a colony, the
location of rooms within a home, or in
the arrangement of work desks and
seats in an office for formal and
informal gatherings.
Different Views of  the Human-
Environment Relationship
There is more than one way of looking at
the human-environment relationship,
depending largely on how this relationship
is perceived by human beings. A
psychologist named Stokols (1990)
describes three approaches that may be
adopted to describe the human-
environment relationship.
(a) The minimalist perspective assumes
that the physical environment has
minimal or negligible influence on
human behaviour, health and well-
being. The physical environment and
human beings exist as parallel
components.
(b) The instrumental perspective
suggests that the physical environment
exists mainly for use by human beings
for their comfort and well-being. Most
of the human influences on the
environment reflect the instrumental
perspective.
(c) The spiritual perspective refers to the
view of the environment as something
to be respected and valued rather than
exploited. It implies that human beings
recognise the interdependent relation-
ship between themselves and the
environment, i.e. human beings will
exist and will be happy only as long as
the environment is kept healthy and
natural.
The traditional Indian view about the
environment supports the spiritual
perspective.  We have at least two examples
of this perspective in our country, viz. the
customs of the Bishnoi community of
Rajasthan, and the Chipko movement in
the Uttarakhand region (see Box 8.1). By
contrast, we also find examples of people
damaging or destroying the environment,
Page 4


Psychology
152
PSY PSY
PSY PSY PSYCHOLOG CHOLOG
CHOLOG CHOLOG CHOLOGY AND LIFE Y AND LIFE
Y AND LIFE Y AND LIFE Y AND LIFE
Introduction
Human-Environment Relationship
Different Views of the Human-Environment Relationship
The Bishnois and the Chipko Movement (Box 8.1)
Environmental Effects on Human Behaviour
Human Influence on the Environment
Noise
Pollution
Crowding
Natural Disasters
Promoting Pro-environmental Behaviour
Psychology and Social Concerns
Poverty and Discrimination
Aggression, Violence, and Peace
Mahatma Gandhi on Non-violence : Why Does
Non-violence Work (Box 8.2)
Health
Impact of Television on Behaviour
CONTENTS
Key Terms
Summary
Review Questions
Project Ideas
Weblinks
Pedagogical Hints
After reading this chapter, you would be able to:
understand how psychology can be applied to common problems in our lives,
appreciate the relationship between human beings and the environment,
analyse how pro-environmental behaviour helps to deal with environmental stressors,
explain the causes and consequences of  social problems from a psychological perspective,
and
learn about the possible remedies of problems such as poverty, aggression, and health.
Chapter 8 • Psychology and Life
153
HUMAN-ENVIRONMENT RELATIONSHIP
Take a moment and try to answer these
questions : Can a tree be your ‘best friend’?
When it gets hot, or when it is crowded,
do people become more aggressive? If rivers
are said to be holy, why do people make
them dirty? How can one remedy the
traumatic effects of a natural disaster such
as an earthquake or tsunami, or of a man-
made disaster such as a poisonous gas
leak in a factory? Compare two children
who grow up in different physical
environments, one in an environment filled
with colourful toys, pictures and books,
and the other in an environment that
contains only the bare necessities of life.
Will the two children develop the same
kind of cognitive skills? People might give
different answers to these questions.
In the previous two chapters, you read about some topics related to social
behaviour and groups. We will now reflect on a set of social concerns with
a wider scope, which are linked to each other and involve psychological
aspects. These issues have to be understood and resolved at the level of
the community rather than the individual. It is now known that besides
affecting our physical health, the environment also influences our
psychological processes and behaviour. Human beings also influence the
environment through their behaviour, and some of these effects are
demonstrated in stress-producing environmental conditions, such as noise,
pollution and crowding.  At the same time, environmental stressors such as
natural disasters are not under human control. Many damaging
environmental effects can be reduced with the help of environment-friendly
behaviour and a state of preparedness. You will read about the causes and
consequences of some social problems such as aggression and violence,
health, and poverty and discrimination. You will also get a glimpse of how
poverty and deprivation can make people victims of discrimination and
social exclusion. An environment of poverty and deprivation has far-reaching
implications for developing human potential, social harmony and mental
health. Some ways of reducing poverty are also described. In addition,
psychological aspects of health, and the impact of television viewing on
violence as well as other forms of behaviour are explained. This chapter
will show you how psychological understanding can be applied practically
to aspects such as pro-environmental behaviour, the reduction of violence
and discrimination, and promotion of positive health attitudes.
Introduction
    A common idea that comes out of these
questions is that the relationship between
human behaviour and the environment
plays a special role in our lives. These
days, there is a growing awareness that
environmental problems such as noise,
air, water and soil pollution, and
unsatisfactory ways of garbage disposal
have damaging effects on physical health.
Less known is the fact that these forms of
pollution, along with many other hidden
factors in the environment, influence
psychological health and functioning as
well. A branch of psychology called
environmental psychology deals with
various psychological issues pertaining to
the human-environment interaction in a
very broad sense of the term.
    The word ‘environment’ refers to all
that is around us, literally everything that
Psychology
154
surrounds us, including the physical,
social, work, and cultural environment. In
general, it includes all the forces outside
human beings to which they respond in
some way. In the present section, the
discussion will centre around the physical
environment.  ‘Ecology’ is the study of the
relationships between living beings and
their environment. In psychology, the focus
is on the interdependence between
the environment and people, as the
environment becomes meaningful with
reference to the human beings who live in
it. In this context, a distinction can be
made between the natural environment
and the built environment. As the name
itself suggests, that part of nature which
remains untouched by human hand is the
natural environment. On the other hand,
whatever has been created by human
beings within the natural environment is
the built environment. Cities, houses,
offices, factories, bridges, shopping malls,
railway tracks, roads, dams, and even
artificially created parks and ponds are
some examples of the built environment
which show how human beings have made
changes in the environment given by
nature.
    The built environment usually involves
the concept of environmental design.
The idea of ‘design’ contains some
psychological features, such as :
? The creativity of the human mind, as
expressed in the work of architects,
town planners and civil engineers.
? The sense of human control over the
natural environment, as shown in the
building of dams to regulate the natural
flow of rivers.
? The influence on the kind of social
interaction that takes place in the
designed environment. This feature is
reflected, for instance, in the distance
between houses in a colony, the
location of rooms within a home, or in
the arrangement of work desks and
seats in an office for formal and
informal gatherings.
Different Views of  the Human-
Environment Relationship
There is more than one way of looking at
the human-environment relationship,
depending largely on how this relationship
is perceived by human beings. A
psychologist named Stokols (1990)
describes three approaches that may be
adopted to describe the human-
environment relationship.
(a) The minimalist perspective assumes
that the physical environment has
minimal or negligible influence on
human behaviour, health and well-
being. The physical environment and
human beings exist as parallel
components.
(b) The instrumental perspective
suggests that the physical environment
exists mainly for use by human beings
for their comfort and well-being. Most
of the human influences on the
environment reflect the instrumental
perspective.
(c) The spiritual perspective refers to the
view of the environment as something
to be respected and valued rather than
exploited. It implies that human beings
recognise the interdependent relation-
ship between themselves and the
environment, i.e. human beings will
exist and will be happy only as long as
the environment is kept healthy and
natural.
The traditional Indian view about the
environment supports the spiritual
perspective.  We have at least two examples
of this perspective in our country, viz. the
customs of the Bishnoi community of
Rajasthan, and the Chipko movement in
the Uttarakhand region (see Box 8.1). By
contrast, we also find examples of people
damaging or destroying the environment,
Chapter 8 ? Psychology and Life
155
Box
8.1
The Bishnois and the Chipko Movement
The Bishnois, a small community in Rajasthan, value their trees and wildlife as much
as their lives. Following one of the 29 rules given by their guru, the Bishnois would do
anything to prevent the destruction of trees by human beings, including hugging the trees
if they are threatened in any way; the destroyer cannot cut the trees without cutting these
human bodies. Similarly, the forest cover in the Himalayan Uttarakhand region has been
protected through the Chipko movement (‘chipko’ literally means ‘sticking to’ or hugging
trees). The aim of this movement is to conserve forests, prevent landslides and soil erosion
in the region, and to support the livelihood of the inhabitants. In the 1960s, when the
forest department of the government was not quite successful in curbing the indiscriminate
felling of trees in large numbers, people of the economically backward Uttarakhand region
expressed their concern through the Chipko movement, which became stronger because
of devastating floods in 1970.
The Chipko movement’s memorandum of demands included six principles: (a) only
specific trees and vegetation suitable for a particular geographical region should be grown,
(b) forests in landslide and soil erosion zones need to be identified and renewed, (c) those
who have been customarily living near the forests and depending on them for survival
should be given the right to do so, (d) the contractor system for commercial timber
exploitation should be abolished, (e) trees used by the villagers must be planted near the
villages, and (f) village cottage industries based on minor forest products should be set
up to provide jobs to locals for checking migration from villages. This movement has been
recognised by environmentalists in India and abroad as well as by the government.
which is a negative instance of the
instrumental perspective.
ENVIRONMENTAL EFFECTS ON HUMAN
BEHAVIOUR
The human-environment relationship can
be appreciated fully by understanding that
the two influence each other, and depend
on each other for their survival and
maintenance. When we focus our attention
on the effects of the natural environment
on human beings, we find a variety of
environmental influences, ranging from
physical effects such as a change of
clothing in response to climate changes to
severe psychological effects such as
serious depression after a natural disaster.
Some of the effects pointed out by
psychologists are described below.
• Environmental influences on
perception : Some aspects of the
environment influence human
perception. For example, as you have
studied in Class XI, a tribal society of
Africa lives in circular huts, that is, in
houses without angular walls. They
show less error in a geometric illusion
(the Muller-Lyer illusion) than people
from cities, who live in houses with
angular walls.
• Environmental influences on
emotions : The environment affects our
emotional reactions as well. Watching
nature in any form, whether it is a
quietly flowing river, a smiling flower, or
a tranquil mountain top, provides a
kind of joy that cannot be matched by
any other experience. Natural disasters,
such as floods, droughts, landslides,
quakes on the earth or under the
ocean, can affect people’s emotions to
such an extent that they experience
deep depression and sorrow, a sense of
complete helplessness and lack of
control over their lives. Such an
Page 5


Psychology
152
PSY PSY
PSY PSY PSYCHOLOG CHOLOG
CHOLOG CHOLOG CHOLOGY AND LIFE Y AND LIFE
Y AND LIFE Y AND LIFE Y AND LIFE
Introduction
Human-Environment Relationship
Different Views of the Human-Environment Relationship
The Bishnois and the Chipko Movement (Box 8.1)
Environmental Effects on Human Behaviour
Human Influence on the Environment
Noise
Pollution
Crowding
Natural Disasters
Promoting Pro-environmental Behaviour
Psychology and Social Concerns
Poverty and Discrimination
Aggression, Violence, and Peace
Mahatma Gandhi on Non-violence : Why Does
Non-violence Work (Box 8.2)
Health
Impact of Television on Behaviour
CONTENTS
Key Terms
Summary
Review Questions
Project Ideas
Weblinks
Pedagogical Hints
After reading this chapter, you would be able to:
understand how psychology can be applied to common problems in our lives,
appreciate the relationship between human beings and the environment,
analyse how pro-environmental behaviour helps to deal with environmental stressors,
explain the causes and consequences of  social problems from a psychological perspective,
and
learn about the possible remedies of problems such as poverty, aggression, and health.
Chapter 8 • Psychology and Life
153
HUMAN-ENVIRONMENT RELATIONSHIP
Take a moment and try to answer these
questions : Can a tree be your ‘best friend’?
When it gets hot, or when it is crowded,
do people become more aggressive? If rivers
are said to be holy, why do people make
them dirty? How can one remedy the
traumatic effects of a natural disaster such
as an earthquake or tsunami, or of a man-
made disaster such as a poisonous gas
leak in a factory? Compare two children
who grow up in different physical
environments, one in an environment filled
with colourful toys, pictures and books,
and the other in an environment that
contains only the bare necessities of life.
Will the two children develop the same
kind of cognitive skills? People might give
different answers to these questions.
In the previous two chapters, you read about some topics related to social
behaviour and groups. We will now reflect on a set of social concerns with
a wider scope, which are linked to each other and involve psychological
aspects. These issues have to be understood and resolved at the level of
the community rather than the individual. It is now known that besides
affecting our physical health, the environment also influences our
psychological processes and behaviour. Human beings also influence the
environment through their behaviour, and some of these effects are
demonstrated in stress-producing environmental conditions, such as noise,
pollution and crowding.  At the same time, environmental stressors such as
natural disasters are not under human control. Many damaging
environmental effects can be reduced with the help of environment-friendly
behaviour and a state of preparedness. You will read about the causes and
consequences of some social problems such as aggression and violence,
health, and poverty and discrimination. You will also get a glimpse of how
poverty and deprivation can make people victims of discrimination and
social exclusion. An environment of poverty and deprivation has far-reaching
implications for developing human potential, social harmony and mental
health. Some ways of reducing poverty are also described. In addition,
psychological aspects of health, and the impact of television viewing on
violence as well as other forms of behaviour are explained. This chapter
will show you how psychological understanding can be applied practically
to aspects such as pro-environmental behaviour, the reduction of violence
and discrimination, and promotion of positive health attitudes.
Introduction
    A common idea that comes out of these
questions is that the relationship between
human behaviour and the environment
plays a special role in our lives. These
days, there is a growing awareness that
environmental problems such as noise,
air, water and soil pollution, and
unsatisfactory ways of garbage disposal
have damaging effects on physical health.
Less known is the fact that these forms of
pollution, along with many other hidden
factors in the environment, influence
psychological health and functioning as
well. A branch of psychology called
environmental psychology deals with
various psychological issues pertaining to
the human-environment interaction in a
very broad sense of the term.
    The word ‘environment’ refers to all
that is around us, literally everything that
Psychology
154
surrounds us, including the physical,
social, work, and cultural environment. In
general, it includes all the forces outside
human beings to which they respond in
some way. In the present section, the
discussion will centre around the physical
environment.  ‘Ecology’ is the study of the
relationships between living beings and
their environment. In psychology, the focus
is on the interdependence between
the environment and people, as the
environment becomes meaningful with
reference to the human beings who live in
it. In this context, a distinction can be
made between the natural environment
and the built environment. As the name
itself suggests, that part of nature which
remains untouched by human hand is the
natural environment. On the other hand,
whatever has been created by human
beings within the natural environment is
the built environment. Cities, houses,
offices, factories, bridges, shopping malls,
railway tracks, roads, dams, and even
artificially created parks and ponds are
some examples of the built environment
which show how human beings have made
changes in the environment given by
nature.
    The built environment usually involves
the concept of environmental design.
The idea of ‘design’ contains some
psychological features, such as :
? The creativity of the human mind, as
expressed in the work of architects,
town planners and civil engineers.
? The sense of human control over the
natural environment, as shown in the
building of dams to regulate the natural
flow of rivers.
? The influence on the kind of social
interaction that takes place in the
designed environment. This feature is
reflected, for instance, in the distance
between houses in a colony, the
location of rooms within a home, or in
the arrangement of work desks and
seats in an office for formal and
informal gatherings.
Different Views of  the Human-
Environment Relationship
There is more than one way of looking at
the human-environment relationship,
depending largely on how this relationship
is perceived by human beings. A
psychologist named Stokols (1990)
describes three approaches that may be
adopted to describe the human-
environment relationship.
(a) The minimalist perspective assumes
that the physical environment has
minimal or negligible influence on
human behaviour, health and well-
being. The physical environment and
human beings exist as parallel
components.
(b) The instrumental perspective
suggests that the physical environment
exists mainly for use by human beings
for their comfort and well-being. Most
of the human influences on the
environment reflect the instrumental
perspective.
(c) The spiritual perspective refers to the
view of the environment as something
to be respected and valued rather than
exploited. It implies that human beings
recognise the interdependent relation-
ship between themselves and the
environment, i.e. human beings will
exist and will be happy only as long as
the environment is kept healthy and
natural.
The traditional Indian view about the
environment supports the spiritual
perspective.  We have at least two examples
of this perspective in our country, viz. the
customs of the Bishnoi community of
Rajasthan, and the Chipko movement in
the Uttarakhand region (see Box 8.1). By
contrast, we also find examples of people
damaging or destroying the environment,
Chapter 8 ? Psychology and Life
155
Box
8.1
The Bishnois and the Chipko Movement
The Bishnois, a small community in Rajasthan, value their trees and wildlife as much
as their lives. Following one of the 29 rules given by their guru, the Bishnois would do
anything to prevent the destruction of trees by human beings, including hugging the trees
if they are threatened in any way; the destroyer cannot cut the trees without cutting these
human bodies. Similarly, the forest cover in the Himalayan Uttarakhand region has been
protected through the Chipko movement (‘chipko’ literally means ‘sticking to’ or hugging
trees). The aim of this movement is to conserve forests, prevent landslides and soil erosion
in the region, and to support the livelihood of the inhabitants. In the 1960s, when the
forest department of the government was not quite successful in curbing the indiscriminate
felling of trees in large numbers, people of the economically backward Uttarakhand region
expressed their concern through the Chipko movement, which became stronger because
of devastating floods in 1970.
The Chipko movement’s memorandum of demands included six principles: (a) only
specific trees and vegetation suitable for a particular geographical region should be grown,
(b) forests in landslide and soil erosion zones need to be identified and renewed, (c) those
who have been customarily living near the forests and depending on them for survival
should be given the right to do so, (d) the contractor system for commercial timber
exploitation should be abolished, (e) trees used by the villagers must be planted near the
villages, and (f) village cottage industries based on minor forest products should be set
up to provide jobs to locals for checking migration from villages. This movement has been
recognised by environmentalists in India and abroad as well as by the government.
which is a negative instance of the
instrumental perspective.
ENVIRONMENTAL EFFECTS ON HUMAN
BEHAVIOUR
The human-environment relationship can
be appreciated fully by understanding that
the two influence each other, and depend
on each other for their survival and
maintenance. When we focus our attention
on the effects of the natural environment
on human beings, we find a variety of
environmental influences, ranging from
physical effects such as a change of
clothing in response to climate changes to
severe psychological effects such as
serious depression after a natural disaster.
Some of the effects pointed out by
psychologists are described below.
• Environmental influences on
perception : Some aspects of the
environment influence human
perception. For example, as you have
studied in Class XI, a tribal society of
Africa lives in circular huts, that is, in
houses without angular walls. They
show less error in a geometric illusion
(the Muller-Lyer illusion) than people
from cities, who live in houses with
angular walls.
• Environmental influences on
emotions : The environment affects our
emotional reactions as well. Watching
nature in any form, whether it is a
quietly flowing river, a smiling flower, or
a tranquil mountain top, provides a
kind of joy that cannot be matched by
any other experience. Natural disasters,
such as floods, droughts, landslides,
quakes on the earth or under the
ocean, can affect people’s emotions to
such an extent that they experience
deep depression and sorrow, a sense of
complete helplessness and lack of
control over their lives. Such an
Psychology
156
influence on human emotions is a
traumatic experience that changes
people’s lives forever, and can last for
a very long time after the actual event
in the form of post-traumatic stress
disorder (PTSD).
? Ecological influences on occupation,
living style and attitudes : The
natural environment of a particular
region determines whether people living
in that region  rely on agriculture (as
in the plains), or on other occupations
such as hunting and gathering (as in
forest, mountainous or desert regions),
or on industries (as in areas that are
not fertile enough for agriculture). In
turn, the occupation determines the
lifestyle and attitudes of the residents
of a particular geographical region.
Compare the daily routine followed by
a person living in a desert with one
living in a mountainous region, and
with one living on the plains. It has
been observed that an agricultural
society has to depend on the collective
efforts of its members. Therefore, the
members of an agricultural society
develop an attitude of cooperativeness,
and consider group interests more
important than the individual’s wishes.
They are also closer to nature, more
dependent on natural events such as
the monsoon, and may face situations
in which necessary natural resources
such as water are in limited supply.
Accordingly, the members of an
agricultural society may become more
fatalistic in their beliefs. On the other
hand, highly industrialised societies feel
less close to and less dependent on
nature. Members of industrialised
societies may value independent
thinking, develop an attitude of
competitiveness, and cultivate a belief
of personal control over what happens
to them.
Human Influence on the Environment
Human beings also exert their influence on
the natural environment for fulfilling their
physical needs and other purposes. All the
examples of the built environment express
human influence over the environment.
For example, the human being started
building something called ‘houses’ by
changing the natural environment in order
to provide shelter for herself/himself.
Some of these human actions harm and
damage the environment, and ultimately
harm themselves, in numerous ways. For
example, human beings use appliances
such as refrigerators and airconditioners
that generate chemical substances (e.g.,
CFCs, or chlorofluorocarbons) that pollute
the air and, in the long run, may be
responsible for physical diseases such as
some forms of cancer. Smoking is known
to pollute the air around us, and the
burning of plastic or metal articles has
disastrous polluting effects on the
environment. Cutting down trees, or
deforestation, may disrupt the carbon cycle
and the water cycle. This may eventually
affect the pattern of rainfall in a region,
and increase soil erosion and
desertification.  Industries that discharge
effluents, and pump this untreated sewage
into rivers, seem to be unconcerned about
the dangerous physical and psychological
consequences of this kind of pollution.
What is the psychological message in
all of these examples? The message is that
although most of the effects mentioned
above are physical in nature, human
beings have brought about these effects in
order to exhibit their control and power
over the natural environment. It is
somewhat paradoxical that human beings
are using technology to change the natural
environment in order to improve the
quality of their life but, in reality, they may
actually be worsening the quality of life!
Noise, pollution, crowding, and
natural disasters are some examples of
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