Revision Notes (Part - 1) - Psychology and Life Humanities/Arts Notes | EduRev

Psychology Class 12

Humanities/Arts : Revision Notes (Part - 1) - Psychology and Life Humanities/Arts Notes | EduRev

The document Revision Notes (Part - 1) - Psychology and Life Humanities/Arts Notes | EduRev is a part of the Humanities/Arts Course Psychology Class 12.
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Facts That Matter

The environment influences individuals Physical health, Psychological processes and behaviour, and some of these effects are demonstrated in stress producing environmental conditions such as noise pollution and crowding.
Social problems like aggression, violence health and poverty are also major concern for present-day Psychologists.
The Psychological understanding of these issues can be applied practically to aspects such as pro-environment behaviour, reduction of violence and discrimination and promotion of positive, health, positive attitudes and well-being of people.

Human-Environment Relationship:

  1. There is a growing awareness that environmental problems such as sound, air, water and soil pollution, and unsatisfactory ways of garbage disposal have damaging effects on physical health.
  2. Less known is the fact that these forms of pollution influence psychological health and functioning as well.
  3. 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.
  4. The word ‘environment’ refers to all that is around us, including the physical, social, work, and cultural environment.
  5. ‘Ecology’ is the study of the relationship between living beings and their environment.
  6. 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.

(a) Natural environment: That part of nature which remains untouched by human hand is the ‘natural environment’.
(b) 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, road, dams, and even artificial 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 environment 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 flows of rivers.
  • The influence on the kind of social interaction that takes place in the designed environment.

Different Views of the Human-Environment Relationship:

1. 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 being 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 will exist and will be happy only as long as the environment is kept healthy and natural.

2. Traditional Indian view about the environment supports the spiritual perspective, e.g.; the customs of the Bishnoi community of Rajasthan, and the Chipko movement in the Uttarakhand region. By contrast, we also find examples of people damaging or destroying the environment, which is a negative instance of the instrumental, which is a negative instance of the instrumental perspective.
Environmental Effects of Human Behaviour:
Some of the effects pointed out by psychologists are described below:

  1. Perception: For example, 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 lives in houses with angular walls.
  2. Emotions: The environment affects our emotional reactions as well. Watching nature in any form provides a kind of joy that cannot be matched by any other experience. In natural disasters, They experience deep depression and sorrow, a sense of complete helplessness and lack of control over their lives. They can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
  3. Ecological Influences in Occupation, Living Style and Attitudes: The occupation determines the life-style and attitudes of the residents of a co-operativeness. They are also closer to nature, more Dependent on natural events and limited supply. On the other hand, highly industrialized societies feel less close to and less dependent on nature. Members of industrialized societies may value independent thinking, develop an attitude of competitiveness, and cultivate a valued 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.
  • Some of these human actions harm and damage the environment, and ultimately harm themselves, in numerous ways.


-> Refrigerators and air-conditioners that generate CFS that pollute the air.
-> Smoking is known to pollute the air around us, and the carbon-cycle and the water- cycle.
-> 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.

  • Noise, pollution, crowding and natural disasters are some examples of environmental stressors, which are stimuli or conditions in the environment that create a stress for human beings.


(a) Any sound that is annoying or irritating, and felt to be unpleasant is said to be noise.
(b) Noise, especially for long periods of time, is uncomfortable and puts people in an unpleasant mood.
(c) It may lead to hearing loss.
(d) It reduces concentration.

Three characteristics of noise have been found to determine its effect on task performance, namely, intensity, predictability, and controllability of noise.

Effects of Noise: Systematic research on the effects of noise on human beings shows the following:

  • When the task being performed is a simple mental task, such as addition to numbers, noise does not affect overall performance, whatever it is loud or soft.
  • If the task being performed is very interesting, then, too, the presence of noise does not affect performance.
  • When the noise comes at intervals, and in an unpredictable way, it is experienced as more disturbing than if the noise is continuously present.
  • When the task being performed is difficult or requires full concentration, then intense, unpredictable, and uncontrollable noise reduces the level of task performance. –
  • When tolerating or switching off the noise is within the control of the person, the number of errors in task performance decreases.
  • In terms of emotional effects, noise above a certain level causes annoyance, and can also lead to sleep disturbance.


  1.  In the form of air, water and soil pollution.
  2.  Waste or garbage that contes from household or from industries are a big source of air, water and soil pollution.

There are some researches or studies that have shown direct or indirect psychological effects of these forms of pollution as well.

Effects of Air pollution: Specific psychological effects of air-pollution have been reported by some researchers. For example,

(i) In one part of Kolkata, the psychological reactions to air-pollution. Those living in the industrial area reported greater tension and anxiety than those living in a non-industrial residential area.
(ii) In study conducted in Germany, the presence of pollution such as sulphur dioxide in the air was found to decrease the ability to concentrate on a task, and lowering performance efficiency.
(iii) Pollution caused by leaks of dangerous chemical substances can cause other kinds of harm. For example, Bhopal gas tragedy of December 1984, also left behind psychological effects because of the gas disturbances in memory, attention and alertness.
(iv) Tobacco smoke pollution, that is, pollution through cigarette, cigar or beedi-smoking, can also cause psychological effects e.g., increase the aggression level of individuals.
(v) The presence of specific chemicals such as lead can cause mental retardation by affecting brain development.
(vi) Waste are plastics, tin or any metal container. This kind of waste material should be destroyed or burned through special techniques, and the smoke should not be allowed to escape into the air that people breathe.


  1.  Crowding refers to a feeling of discomfort because there are too many people or things around us, giving us the experiences of physical restriction, and something the lack of privacy.
  2.  Crowding is the person’s reaction to the presence of a large number of persons within a ” particular area or space. When this number goes beyond a certain level, it causes stress to individuals caught in that situation.

Features of crowding: The experience of crowding has the following features:

  • Feeling of discomfort,
  • Loss or decrease in privacy,
  • Negative view of the space around the person, and
  • Feeling of loss of control over social interaction.It should be understood that the experience of crowding is brought about not merely because of a large number of persons as such, nor merely because of the shortage of space. It is related to density, that is, the number of persons within the available space.
  • Crowding and high density may lead to abnormal behaviour and aggression, e.g., study of rats. These animals were placed in an enclosure, initially in small numbers. As their population increased within this enclosed space, they started showing aggressive and unusual behaviour, such as biting the tails of other rats. This aggressive behaviour increased to such an extent that ultimately the animals died in large numbers, thus decreasing the population in the enclosure.
  • Crowding leads to lowered performance on difficult tasks that involve cognitive processes, and has adverse effects on memory and the emotional state.
  • Children growing up in very crowded household show lower academic performance. They also show weaker tendency to continue working on a task if they are unsuccessful at it, compared to children growing up in non-crowded households. They experience greater conflict with their parents, and get less support from their family members.
  • The nature of social interaction determines the degree to which an individual will react to crowding.
  • Crowding tolerance refers to the ability to mentally deal with a high density or crowded environment, such as a crowded residence (a large numbers of persons within a small room). Competition tolerance is the ability to put up with a situation in which individuals would have to compete with many others for even basic resources, including physical space. Cultural characteristics may determine the extent to which a particular environment is judged to be subjectively more crowded or less crowded.Personal space or the comfortable physical space one generally likes to maintain around oneself is affected by a high-density environment. In a crowded context, there is a restriction on a personal space, and this can also be a cause of negative reactions to crowding.We find many examples of people responding to the physical environment in terms of space. In social situations, human beings like to maintain a certain physical distance from the person with whom they are interacting.This is called interpersonal physical distance and is a part of a broader concept called personal space, i.e., the physical space we like to have all around us. One reason for the negative reactions to crowding, as described earlier, is the decrease in personal space.

1. Intimate Distance (up to 18 inches): The distance you maintain when you are talking privately to someone or interacting with a very close friend relative.

2. Personal Distance (18 inches to 4 feet): The distance you maintain when you are interacting one-to-one with a close friend, relative, or even with someone not very close to you in a work setting or other social situation.

3. Social Distance (4 to 10 feet): The distance you maintain when the interaction is formal, and not close.

4. Public Distance (10 feet to infinity): The distance you maintain in a formal setting, where there is a large number of persons. For example, the distance of an audience from a public speaker, or a teacher in a classroom.
It may be noted that these distances are maintained voluntarily, keeping in mind the comfort experienced by the persons involved in the interaction.

The concept of personal space is important for the following reasons:

  • First, it explains many of the negative effects of crowding as an environmental stressor.
  • Second, it tells us about social relationships.
  • Third, it gives us some idea about how physical space can be modified in order to reduce stress or discomfort in social situations or to make social interaction more enjoyable and fruitful.

Natural Disasters:

  • Environmental stressors such as noise, various forms of pollution and crowding are the result of human behaviour.
  • By contrast, natural disasters are stressful experiences that are the result of disturbances in the natural environment, e.g., earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, cyclones and volcanic eruptions.
  • These events are called ‘disasters’ because they cannot be prevented, usually come without any warning, and result in immense damage to human lives and property.
  • Sadly, they also lead to a psychological disorder, called post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
  • Science and technology have now progressed sufficiency to make it possible for human beings to predict these events, to some extent. Yet the psychological effects of natural disasters need to be understood and remedied.

What are the effects of natural disasters?
First, they leave people poverty-stricken, homeless, without any resources, usually along with a loss of everything they owned.
Second, the sudden loss of all their belongings as well as their dear ones leaves people shocked and stunned.
This is sufficient to create a deep-seated psychological disorder. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a severe psychological problem that results from traumatic events such as natural disasters.

Features of Natural Disasters: This disorder has the following features:

The immediate reaction to a disaster is commonly one of disorientation. People take some time to understand the full meaning of what the disaster has done to them. They may actually deny to themselves that something terrible has happened. Following the immediate reaction are the physical reactions.
Physical reactions, such as bodily exhaustion even without physical activity, difficulty in sleeping, change in the eating pattern, increased heartbeat and blood pressure.
Emotional reactions, such as grief and fear, irritability, anger, helplessness, hopelessness, depression, something absolute lack of emotion.
Cognitive reactions, such as worry, difficulty in concentration, reduced span of attention, confusion, loss of memory, or vivid memories, that are unwanted (or nightmares of the event). Social reactions, such as withdrawal from others, getting into conflict with others, having frequent arguments with even loved ones, and feeling rejected or left out.
These reactions may last for a long time, in some cases throughout life, with proper counselling and psychiatric treatment, PTSD can be remedied at least up to level where the victims can be motivated, and helped to start life afresh.

In general, the intensity, if reaction, is affected by:

  • The severity of the disaster, and the loss incurred (both in terms of property and life),
  • The individual’s general coping ability, and
  • Other stressful experiences before the disaster.Although we are aware ,that most natural disasters can be predicted only in a limited way, there are ways of being prepared to minimize their devastating consequences in the form of. Warnings: If you have been listening to the radio in the recent past, you might have heard ‘ advertisements that mention what people should do when it is announced that some natural disaster, such as a flood, is likely. When cyclones of high tides are predicted, fishermen are asked not to venture into the sea. Safety measures that can be taken immediately after the event. Even if prediction is possible, the events come to suddenly for people to be warned or to be mentally prepared. Therefore, tips are given beforehand about what to do when there is an earthquake.

Treatment of psychological disorders: This includes self-help approaches as well as professional treatment. Counselling at the individual and group level is the next step.
Pro-environmental behaviour:

(i) Includes both actions that are meant to protect the environment from problems, and to promote a healthy environment.
Some promotive actions to protect the environment from pollution are:
Reducing air pollution by keeping vehicles in good condition, or changing to non-fuel driven vehicles, stopping the practice of smoking.
Reducing noise pollution (noise) by ensuring that noise levels are now. For example, discouraging needless honking on the road, or making rules regarding noisy music at certain hours.

Managing disposal of garbage sensible. For example, by encouraging separation of biodegradable garbage from non-biodegradable waste, or composting of kitchen waste. Planting trees and ensuring their care, keeping in mind that those plants and trees should not be planted that have adverse health effects.
Saying ‘no’ to plastic in any form, thus reducing toxic wastes that pollute water, air and the soil.
Reducing the non-biodegradable packaging of consumer goods.

Laws related to construction (especially in urban areas) that violates optimal environment design.
Poverty and violence are two main problems in our society. Both of these phenomena have noticeable effects on the physical as well psychological health of people.
Poverty is not nearly an economic problem. It has social, emotional, Psychological perspectives also.
Violence is also not simply a question of breaking the law. It is related to societal conditions Psychological perspective and economic conditions also. Psychologists have actively exploring these issue to explain causes, consequences and strategies to deal with these phenomena effectively.

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