Ecopsychology explores humans’ psychological interdependence with the rest of nature and the implications for identity, health and well-being. Ecopsychology topics include emotional responses to nature; the impacts of environmental issues such as natural disasters and global climate change; and the transpersonal dimensions of environmental identity and concern.
Research and practice examples:
1Integrating outdoor activities into counseling or therapy
2Preventing burnout and despair regarding environmental issues
3Understanding transcendent experiences in nature
CONSERVATION PSYCHOLOGY DEFINED:
Conservation psychology is the scientific study of the reciprocal relationships between humans and the rest of nature, with the goal of encouraging conservation of the natural world. This relatively new field is oriented toward conservation of ecosystems, conservation of resources, and quality of life issues for humans and other species. Most of the research questions address the following outcome areas:
1How humans care about/value nature, with the goal of creating harmonious relationships and an environmental ethic.
2How humans behave towards nature, with the goal of creating durable individual and collective behavior change.
Since most environmental problems are caused by human behaviors, human behavioral changes are necessary in order to address them. Psychologists have much to offer in terms of understanding human-nature experiences and what motivates people to protect such relationships. Conservation psychology clearly draws from environmental psychology, as well as from other sub-disciplines of psychology, but it is distinctive in its focus on the natural environment and its explicit outcome orientation. Like conservation biology, conservation psychology has a strong mission focus related to biodiversity conservation and environmental sustainability.
Research topics include studies of human-animal relationships, empathy, how caring about the natural world develops, the formation of an environmental identity, relationships between a psychological connection with nature and environmental sustainability, significant life experiences as precursors of environmental concern, development of a sense of place, moral reasoning in relation to the natural environment, risk perception, conflict resolution, the significance of direct nature experiences, and environmental attitudes, beliefs, values, and behaviors.
In addition to being a field of study, conservation psychology is also the network of researchers and practitioners who work together toward a common goal.