Handbook of Health Psychology

By Andrew Baum; Tracey A. Revenson et al. | Go to book overview

20
Environmental Stress and Health
Gary W. Evans
Cmtell University

Although environmental conditions play a prominent role in health and psychological processes, antecedent factors in these processes have largely been neglected within health psychology. Instead, the focus has been on various markers of health, with considerable attention to stress-related mechanisms, interceding between the environment and health. Another focus within health psychology that has directed attention away from environmental factors has been coping resources, with the examination of either social support, personality, or coping strategies that potentially alter the impact of environmental demands on health. But what characteristics of the environment itself are likely to impinge on health and psychological processes? When this question has been addressed within health psychology, environment has been operationalized primarily in social terms. Family and work social climates, as well as sociocultural and economic conditions, predominate in the few environmental studies in health psychology. This chapter intends to draw greater attention to the potential role of the physical environment in health and psychological processes.

Why might the physical environment be important to health psychology? For one reason, the physical environment clearly impacts health. Adverse physical conditions can cause toxicological reactions, challenge homeostatic balance, produce physical trauma, or function as vectors bearing pathogens. Physical factors can also be a source of environmental demands that pressure coping resources.

A second reason the physical environment is worthy of scrutiny within health psychology is because the environment can be modified and thus becomes a potential intervention target to improve health and well-being. Third, environmental conditions are objective and thus can be measured more readily in reliable and valid ways. For example, researchers can system- atically monitor density or noise levels in precise, accurate ways that can then be examined as possible causal factors in health. Fourth, physical environmental conditions tend to be stable. Increasingly, research suggests that chronic environmental demands are most likely to have negative impacts on health (Lepore, 1995). Finally, the concept of psychological stress that is central to several formulations of health, behavior, and disease (see chap. 17, this volume) has been utilized to broaden understanding of how physical features of the environment can influence human health and well-being.

There are at least three major ways in which the physical environment might operate as a psychological stressor, straining human adaptive capacities. First, this can occur when a stressor directly loads, or pressures, the system. Both crowding and noise, for example, create a surfeit of stimulation that can directly overload the system, causing discomfort, negative affect, and under some circumstances, the marshaling of adaptive resources. Both negative affect and adaptive responses to challenge or threat in turn directly affect neuroendocrine and cardiovascular functioning. Physical stressors can also interact with psychosocial conditions to exacerbate negative affect and/or psychophysiologic mobilization. For example, noise plus high workload demands leads to more serious health outcomes than workload levels alone. Noise and crowding frequently covary with other psychosocial risk factors (e.g., poverty, inadequate working conditions), and thus have the potential to contribute to multiple risk situations.

A second manner in which the physical environment can contribute to stress is by damaging or ameliorating coping resources themselves. People rarely respond to suboptimal physical or psychosocial conditions passively; instead, they

-365-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Handbook of Health Psychology
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen
/ 962

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.