Umweltpsychologie

Umweltpsychologie ist ein relativ neues Feld, das auf der naheliegenden Idee basiert, dass die physischen Gegebenheiten, mit denen sich ein Mensch konfrontiert sieht, sein Verhalten beeinflussen. Die Betonwüste, in der wir aufwachsen, die volle U-Bahn, in der wir uns zur Arbeit quälen, die überhitzten Büros und Vorlesungssäle, in denen manche ihr Dasein fristen, sie beeinflussen nicht nur Wohlergeben und Physis, sie schlagen sich auch auf Verhalten und Einstellungen nieder.

Paul A. Bell et al. haben in einem Lehrbuch zur Environmental Psychology eine Vielzahl von Wirkketten beschrieben, einige davon sind überraschend, andere ungewöhnlich, wieder andere zu erwarten. Das folgende Beispiel gehört zu den überraschenden Zusammenhängen:

“High Air-Pressure Effects.

Extremely high pressure is experienced primarily under the sea. For each 33 feet (10 m) of depth, the pressure increases by 14.7 pounds per square inch (psi) or by one atmosphere (1.033kg/qcm). Thus, at 33 feet (10 m) the pressure is 29.4 psi (two atmospheres): at 99 feet (30 m) of depth, the pressure is 58.8 psi (four atmospheres); and so on. Hazards encountered at such pressure extremes (…) include:

  • Increased breathing difficulty caused by reduction of maximum breathing capacity (reduced by 50% at depth of 100 feet (30 m);
  • Oxygen poisoning caused by breathing excess oxygen under pressure;
  • Nitrogen poisoning caused by the narcotic effects of breathing nitrogen under extreme pressure. Symptoms include high-headedness and mental instability.
  • Decompression sickness caused by nitrogen bubbles forming in body tissues (especially in the circulatory system) when one rapidly changes from high pressure to a lower-pressure environment. The ‘bends’ is one relatively acute form of decompression sickness. Permanent damage to the bones may also result from rapid decompression.

Most of these high-pressure problems can be corrected or prevented by breathing the proper mixture of air for the diving depth and by surfacing slowly to permit the gradual release of nitrogen from tissuees

[…]

Low and high pressure or atmospheric pressures are not only associated with altitude. All of us, in fact, are subjected to often dramatic swings in barometric pressure associated with weather changes.

[…]

In general, researchers have observed three types of effects that air pressure changes have on people: increased medical complaints, increased suicide rates, and increased disruptive behavior. With respect to medical complaints, many arthritis victims claim that their condition worsens with changes in weather.

[…]

A number of studies have been conducted over the years to examine the relationship of mental hospital admissions and suicide rates to weather changes. Both of these clinical occurrences show fluctuations with seasons, with the highest rates connected with the increased temperatures and daylight hours of spring and summer months.

[…]

Finally, several studies have shown that disruptive school behavior and police dispatch calls fluctuate with weather,especially air pressure changes.”

(Bell, Paul A., Greene, Thomas C., Fisher,  Jeffrey D. & Baum, Andrew (2001). Environmental Psychology. Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum, pp.199-201)