Environmental and Evolutionary Psychology Transcript
Environmental and evolutionary psychology focuses on the study of how environmental and evolutionary factors affect one’s psychological processes. Environmental psychology identifies the connection between the environment and its impact on humans. Moreover, this includes how it affects human, cognitively and one’s behavior. Evolutionary psychology, generally, goes into research about memory, language, and perspectives through the evolutionary theory of adaptation. The evolutionary theory targets functional properties of organisms. This may include the functioning of the brain. People may not behave or act the same way in the same environments or in different environments. Furthermore, humans tend to have to adapt in the settings, transforming psychological traits to allow humans to become more comfortable than before. Evolutionary theorists view the psychological traits of humans as progressed adaptations. Environmental and evolutionary psychology can allow people to understand how they can be affected by external factors. For example, there are a variety of psychological benefits of spending time in nature and with animals. Theory-based motivation can be applied for learning to alter behavior. There are intrinsic and extrinsic rewards in spending time in nature and with animals. Information has been gathered from an interview, where the interviewer is helping a park visitor expand his or her knowledge on the benefits of spending time in nature and with animals.
Interviewer: Welcome to the national park. It seems as if you are enjoying the views. Outside of the beauty of nature and fun spent observing or interacting with animals, did you know that there are many psychological benefits of spending time in nature and with animals?
Park Visitor: I have some of knowledge on its benefits. I come here to the park, to get away and establish some peace of my mind.
Interviewer: How does the park allow you to establish some peace of mind? What makes visiting, an effective method for you?
Park Visitor: Nature and animals allow me to feel accepted because I know I cannot be judged by them. Moreover, it helps me to relax because the environment is very calming.
Interviewer: That is great! I do agree with you, people do benefit from spending more time outdoors with nature or animals. According to Diamond (2010), “There is even a new movement called ecotherapy that aims to rescue our bodies and minds by getting us reconnected with nature” (p.28). Ecotherapy is a form of therapy that comes from nature. It allows people to create a balance, establishes harmony, and also increases mental health. People that spend more time with nature or animals are more likely to have better health and better perspective than others.
Park Visitor: Many of my friends and family never believe me when I go into details about how nature and being with animals can make me think better and relaxed than without it. I am unaware of the exact benefits, but I know that it can allow me to appreciate the world and its beauty more, along with minimizing my stressors. I was unaware that ecotherapy was a real therapeutic method used by a lot of people around the world.
Interviewer: There are many health symptoms that are improved with nature and with animals. Did you know that spending time with nature and animals can also reduce Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms, improve vision, increase critical thinking skills, and create a better spiritual base?
Park Visitor: No.I did not have any ideal.
Interviewer: I’ll help you to understand?
Park Visitor: Yes, please!
Interviewer: ADHD is a disorder that causes issues with staying focused and creates an inability to control behavior. By spending time in nature and animals, it allows individuals to relax, focus, and control of their behavior, based on what is around them. Furthermore, being out improves distance vision. It lowers the chance of nearsightedness because it allows people to gradually increase their eyesight through observation and expansion of the natural settings. Spiritually, nature makes people nicer, enhancing social interactions, value for community and close relationships (National Wildlife Federation, 2014).
Park Visitor: That is very interesting! I knew that it helped the mind and body, but I did not know that there were so many other benefits. To know that there are researchers or psychologists that have looked into how being in nature and with animals can create health or psychological benefits is amazing.
Interviewer: Yes, there have been studies conducted that focus on the effects of being in nature. Since the early 1980s, environmental psychologists have studied the health effects of contact with nature (Velarde et al, 2007). At the same time, models that promote ecological health have informed the development of strategies such as “healthy cities”, “healthy schools” and “healthy workplaces” which recognize the importance of natural environments for human health and well-being (Burls 2007).
Park Visitor: I must admit that I am curious now. What about these adorable creatures? [Park visitor approaches the area of the ducks]. Can you alert me of the exact benefits that would come from being around them, separated from nature?
Interviewer: Animals can contribute to better health, too. For example, studies have shown that by having a dog, an infant can gain a higher interleukin secretion profile and can grow up with reduced sensitization (Dr. Gern et. al., 2004). It is surprising, would you say? Animals can help people to improve in social interaction and stimulation. Animals can help bring forth happiness in a variety of ways.
Park Visitor: I have children that have grown up being around animals because I, myself, love animals. They have grown to love animals and it is helpful that the animals can help bring benefits to children, just as children are able to benefit animals through love and care.
Interviewer: Spending time in nature and with animals can bring intrinsic rewards, as well as extrinsic rewards. We have gone into details about the intrinsic rewards of relaxation, more focus, more motivation, and peace with the mind and body. Would you like to know about the extrinsic rewards, as well?
Park Visitor: Yes! I am really enjoying this interview because I am a nature and animal lover. I am grateful that you have allowed me to expand my knowledge on two of my favorite topics.
Interviewer: Extrinsic motivation refers to our tendency to perform activities for known external rewards, whether they be tangible (e.g., money) or psychological (e.g., praise) in nature (Brown, 2007). Extrinsic rewards, in this case, would include having a place or setting of comfort and having animals there to provide company or support.
Park Visitor: I could not agree more. These are the main reasons why I visit this park.
Interviewer: Is there anything else that you would like to know about the psychological benefits of spending time in nature and being with animals?
Park Visitor: No,thank you for helping to raise awareness on the benefits of nature and with being around animals.
Interviewer: My pleasure, it is important that I help everyone, I can; expand their perspectives and knowledge on the benefits that can, simply, come from nature and by being around animals.
Environmental and evolutionary psychology focuses on the study of how environmental and evolutionary factors affect one’s psychological processes. There are a variety of psychological benefits of spending time in nature and with animals. Throughout the interview, the interviewer provides information on the benefits of being in nature and animals. For example, spending time in nature and with animals can be therapeutic for the mind and body. It has led to what is known as ecotherapy. Ecotherapy is therapy that comes from nature creating a balance, establishing harmony, and increasing the level of mental health. Spending time with nature and animals can also reduce Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms, improve vision, increase critical thinking skills, and create a better spiritual base. Studies on effects of natures date back from the 1980s. Being with animals outside of nature can help improve health by allowing people to feel better through social interaction and stimulation. The intrinsic rewards of spending time in nature and around animals consist of relaxation, more focus and motivation, and obtaining peace with the mind and body. Extrinsic rewards include having a place or setting of comfort and having animals there to provide company or support.
Brown, L. V. (2007). Psychology of motivation. New York: Nova Publishers.
Burls, A. (2007). ‘People and Green Spaces: Promoting public health and mental wellbeing
through ecotherapy’, Journal of Public Mental Health, vol. 6, no. 3, pp. 24–39.
Gern, J. E. et. al. (2004) Effects of dog ownership and genotype on immune development and
atopy in infancy. The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 113 (2) 307-314
National Wildlife Federation. (2014). Health Benefits. Retrieved on March 3, 2014 from
Velarde, M. Nielsen, T. S. and Hansen, K. B. (2007). Beyond blue to green: The benefits of contact with nature for mental health and well-being. Retrieved from http://www.hphpcentral.com
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