Thursday, August 30, 2007

356-360 Acoustic Environments, Learned Helplessness and Pet Therapy

Message no. 356[Branch from no. 347] Posted by Thomas Culhane (1311520071) on Tuesday, February 13, 2007 3:33pm Subject: Re: Relational Summary from Varshawn!!

Varshawn, this is a start, but please read the other relational summaries for models of how to complete yours. Remember, the summaries need at least three quotes from the book and at least three links to outside readings. We very much do want to relate the theories and methods of the book to our own lives, but we want to demonstrate that the field of environmental psychology has relevance to our lives by explicitly stating how each idea from the book links to how we feel and behave. That will do the trick!

Message no. 357[Branch from no. 350] Posted by Thomas Culhane (1311520071) on Tuesday, February 13, 2007 3:48pm Subject: Re: The acoustic environment

Thanks for the feedback and for putting all that effort in Adrienne! Aren't kids great? To them the "briar patch" of technology is a bed of roses without thorns!

Thanks for giving us a visceral feel for how the information about available technological options affected you! Isn't it interesting that even describing new affordances in an unfamiliar environment makes our palms sweat, even when we are not forced to engage with those affordances? What does this tell us about language environments and self-expectations? The unknown is most scary when we start to get to know it, isn't it? When it is truly unknown it is "out of sight out of mind." Unfortunately sometimes just being made aware of what is going on "out there" is enough to freak us out. Read Varshawn's post about the book making her aware of the dangers from the hole in the ozone layer and global warming.

I think one of the reasons the environmental movement fails is because it is very threatening to be made aware of things that can make us uncomfortable or can hurt or challenge us but over which we don't feel we can ever have much control. Our book talks about LEARNED HELPLESSNESS. Some things, like new technologies, we feel a bit helpless about, but when our family, particularly our kids, guide us through how to deal with them, we lose our panic, as you have, and decide to give mastering these new affordances a try (bravo!). Environmental changes, however, rarely come with guides who can help us feel a sense of control. So they make us panic and, because they don't go away (as Varshawn pointed out about environmental problems that we have had since the 60's!) we develop a sense of "learned helplessness" don't we?

What Chapter 14 talks about (which you guys may listen to long before we get around to reading it) and why it is so important, is how to change ours and others' psychology so that we CAN feel we can help improve our environments. Environmental psychology, in effect, offers us hope.

Let us hope nothing in either this course or in "the real world" ever "puts us over the edge"! And if it does, this is a good forum for us to discuss how and why it did so, and what we can do to get ourselves back into a state of calm and control! That is what this field of study is really all about!

Cheers, and thanks for giving the acoustic environment a go!


P.S. I will tell you more about Cairo soon as I am preparing a video about it for you guys. Will get you more info about Arifah soon! Many salaams to your daughter.

Message no. 358[Branch from no. 340] Posted by Thomas Culhane (1311520071) on Tuesday, February 13, 2007 3:53pm Subject: Pet therapy

So true, Dawn -- my wife and I have two cats here in Cairo that we rescued when they were abandoned by their mother at only a few days old. We nursed them to health (bottle feeding and all) and they provide great comfort now that they are almost a year old. The question is WHY? What is it about interspecies interaction that comforts us? What do you guys think happened in our evolutionary history to make the mere act of petting another living creature have a calming effect on us? Would it work if it was a lizard? (I used to have two pet iguanas and enjoyed petting them; a friend of mine took baths and slept with his pythons and boa constrictors. They were fun to pet too -- no, as you know, snakes are not slimey at all, but have soft suede like leathery skin.).

Is it about control? Where does the calming come from? Why don't other animals pet us? Or do they?

Message no. 359[Branch from no. 338] Posted by Thomas Culhane (1311520071) on Tuesday, February 13, 2007 4:09pm Subject: Re: Chap 2 Relative Summary

This is an exemplary relational summary Dawn! Good job! It would be great if you would lead a discussion about the BIOPHILIA hypothesis -- there must be, as you say, some reason why you have chosen to work with other animals (remember that we humans are also in the Kingdom animalia) as your livelihood.

Is it about power? (Most animals can't talk back or fight back or take advantage of us and we can feel good about helping the helpless). Or is there something deeper than our personal psychologies operating here? How can we test this? That is always the crucial issue in this course: HOW DO WE TEST OUR HYPOTHESES?

Class, this is the crux of environmental psychology -- we all have opinions and ideas about why certain environments and affordances affect us, but HOW DO WE PROVE our hypotheses? What methods or tests can we use?

The book is full of examples. How would you set up a test to prove that for some people being around other animals actually makes them feel good INDEPENDENT OF ANY FEELINGS OF CONTROL or superiority?


Message no. 360[Branch from no. 349] Posted by Thomas Culhane (1311520071) on Tuesday, February 13, 2007 4:12pm Subject: Re: Relational Summary

Thanks Dana, this is much improved! Hope you enjoyed getting thus deeper into it as we did reading your new thoughts!

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