Intended as supplemental reading in courses on theories of development, this book augments traditional core texts by providing students with more depth on about two dozen recent and emerging theories that have appeared over the past 20 years. This period has seen a decline of the traditional "grand" theories that attempt to apply to all people all the time in favor of "micro theories" that focus more on individual differences, so a book like this actually points the way toward the future rather than dryly reviewing the past. In addition, the author inspects the changing ways in which the concept of "theory" itself has been interpreted during this period, and he concludes with a chapter suggesting future directions.
Chapter 4: Environmental/Ecological Theories
In the somewhat distant past, such theories as Skinner's behaviorism focused so much attention on environmental factors in human development that the influence of a person's own qualities in affecting events seemed much neglected. But present-day theories labeled environmental or ecological usually paint a more balanced picture of persons' and environments' contributions to events.
To begin understanding recent proposals, we can ask: How have theorists characterized environmental and ecological models?
In response, the term environmental psychology, according to one popular definition is “the study of human behavior and well-being in relation to the sociophysical environment” (Stokols & Altman, 1987, p. 1). Slightly different is Robert Cohen's description of environmental psychology as
a multidisciplinary approach to understanding person-environment transactions. Environmental psychologists are interested primarily in field ...