Socially Based Eco-Psychology


Social psychology may be defined as the study of behavioral dependence and interdependence. (Harre' & Lamb, 1984) Social psychology looks at the behaviors and attitudes contributing to, and arising from, social interaction. These interactions involve human, non-human, and human/environmental relationships. Social psychologists attempt to determine the factors influencing one to act in a particular way by studying the relationship between the actor and the acted upon.

There are two primary influences at work upon us: first, that of domination versus submission; and second, positive versus negative social behavior.

In the case of a domination/submission relationship, we can include our anthropocentric worldview where we, as the "superior" beings, have the right to force the submission of other life forms. Our relationships, even human/human ones, often have this quality; even when we don't intentionally create it. We see this with parent/child, as well as employer/employee relationships. I'm not sure if there is any relationship which is benefitted by this type of interaction; it seems detrimental on all levels. It is a "power down" relationship where the person at the top of the chain has all the power and those under their control are only given as much power as the one on top allows.'

This relationship is often misunderstood as authority v. leadership. Many people in leadership roles mistakenly believe that they hold some authority over others. The truth is that the only person we hold authority over is ourselves. How can we be the "author" of anyone else? Leaders who lead from this belief are rarely appreciated, generally ineffectual, and rule through intimidation and manipulation. While we can be an "authority" in our field, this indicates that we have set a trend in the pervading wisdom of a particular topic.

It is a much greater goal to be a leader! As a leader we are teachers, coaches, and guides. We are sharing our expertise in order to encourage and enable the growth of those under our influence. This is a position of sharing: what we know, what we do, and who we are. Leadership is what leads us to the next influence on our behavior.

The other major influence: positive versus negative social behavior, is more collaborative and accepting. In this model the individual is reinforced for acting in socially acceptable ways, while reinforcement is withheld for acting in socially unacceptable ways. It does backfire however, when the socially acceptable ways are not the most responsible and compassionate ones. An example would be when old-growth forests are deforested in order to provide jobs for loggers and lumber for building, with too little thought given to the other species that depend upon the forest for survival, or when financial gain is the primary consideration in any potentially environmentally risky undertaking.

This becomes more of an issue as a culture slides deeper and deeper towards despair and destruction. We deny that certain activities are damaging; and allow ourselves to be drawn further and further towards an uncertain and dangerously questionable future. Furthermore, we lose sight of any way out of our ever deepening well of despair. It appears that, one way or another, social psychology is involved in all forms of relationship, whether that relationship is the interaction between one human and another, the communication between one cell and an organism, or that of one ecosystem to another.
Socially Based Eco-Psychology Socially Based Eco-Psychology Reviewed by MOSTAFA on 12:50 Rating: 5

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