Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Social ecology: Lost and found in psychological science

Date:
August 6, 2010
Source:
Association for Psychological Science
Summary:
Various aspects of our environment -- including political systems, economic systems and even climate and geography -- can affect our thinking and behavior, a field of study known as socioecological psychology.

Various aspects of our environment -- including political systems, economic systems, and even climate and geography -- can affect our thinking and behavior, a field of study known as socioecological psychology. In a report in Perspectives on Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, psychological scientists Shigehiro Oishi and Jesse Graham from the University of Virginia examine the impact of social and physical environments on human thought and behavior.

A society's economic system may have long-reaching effects on its citizens' behaviors, beyond how much money they can make. Research suggests that willingness to cooperate with others depends on the economic system in which individuals live in: In an economic game, participants from a whale-hunting society (in which cooperation is important for survival) were more likely to exhibit cooperative responses than were participants from a horticultural society (one in which cooperation is not critical).

However, the relationship between economic systems and behavior goes in the other direction as well -- the mind and behavior can influence economic systems. For example, nations high in general trust have more subsequent capital investment and economic growth that nations that are low in general trust.

Climate can also have an influence over the mind and behavior. Studies have shown that violent-crime rates are higher during warmer months compared to colder months. Research has also suggested that prosocial behaviors are affected by the weather: In one study, pedestrians were more willing to help a survey interviewer on sunny days (in both summer and winter) than they were on cloudy days.

In the history of psychological science, there have been several waves of socioecological research, each having a distinct focus. "However," write Oishi and Graham, "sustained attention to current and chronic macroenvironments has not been widely recognized in psychological science." In recent years, the rise of cultural psychology has emphasized cultural factors in basic psychological processes -- investigating culture-specific meanings and practices -- but less attention has been paid specifically to socioecological factors.

The authors note that taking socioecological perspective on psychology research could be extremely useful to the field and can present a complimentary perspective to cultural psychology and evolutionary psychology. They observe that the "socioecological approach to psychology offers testable hypotheses not only concerning cultural differences but also concerning individual and regional differences in the phenomenon under study."

Oishi and Graham conclude by suggesting some ways that researchers can begin adopting a socioecological approach to their work, for example, by considering distal factors (e.g., weather, population density) that may impact proximal factors such as mood and beginning with informed curiosity to generate hypotheses about cultural or regional differences and looking to features of the environment to identify the origin of those differences.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Association for Psychological Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Oishi et al. Social Ecology: Lost and Found in Psychological Science. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 2010; 5 (4): 356 DOI: 10.1177/1745691610374588

Cite This Page:

Association for Psychological Science. "Social ecology: Lost and found in psychological science." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 August 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100805111231.htm>.
Association for Psychological Science. (2010, August 6). Social ecology: Lost and found in psychological science. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100805111231.htm
Association for Psychological Science. "Social ecology: Lost and found in psychological science." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100805111231.htm (accessed April 17, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Are School Dress Codes Too Strict?

Are School Dress Codes Too Strict?

AP (Apr. 16, 2014) Pushing the limits on style and self-expression is a rite of passage for teens and even younger kids. How far should schools go with their dress codes? The courts have sided with schools in an era when school safety is paramount. (April 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) A new study conducted by researchers at Northwestern and Harvard suggests even casual marijuana use can alter your brain. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Couples Who Sleep Less Than An Inch Apart Might Be Happiest

Couples Who Sleep Less Than An Inch Apart Might Be Happiest

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) A new study by British researchers suggests couples' sleeping positions might reflect their happiness. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Cognitive Function: Is It All Downhill From Age 24?

Cognitive Function: Is It All Downhill From Age 24?

Newsy (Apr. 15, 2014) A new study out of Canada says cognitive motor performance begins deteriorating around age 24. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins