Defining the Field

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Originally published in Contemporary Psychology: APA Review of Books, 1979, Vol 24(8), 636–638. Reviews the books, Environmental Psychology by Paul A. Bell, Jeffrey D. Fisher, and Ross J. Loomis (1978); and Environmental Psychology. 2nd ed by Norman W. Heimstra and Leslie H. McFarling (1978). Both texts convey a sense of optimism. The emphasis on interrelationships often produces a picture of looping cause and effect. While similar in many respects, the two volumes differ in length, reliance on theory, and emphasis. Heimstra and McFarling's purpose is to present an overview of the basic concepts and major research concerns in the field to students in a number of disciplines. The Bell, Fisher, and Loomis text is considerably longer, more ambitious, and in most ways more successful in presenting the field and the research. The bulk of the book deals with the relationship between environmental dimensions and behavior. Both texts provide separate sections dealing with methods in environmental psychology. Although Heimstra and McFarling provide a compendium of findings that is useful for a quick reference or overview, it is not competitive as a textbook with Bell, Fisher, and Loomis Bell et al have provided an excellent and interesting text and, in the process, have provided the field and other professionals with, a coherent definition of environmental psychology. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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