In their work, members of the Area Group address practical needs in Sweden and elsewhere, while also making theoretical and empirical contributions to national and international research literatures.
Group members have done research on a wide range of pressing topics. Examples of topics addressed by members in recent years include:
- public acceptance of renewable energy sources and energy efficient technology
- public acceptance of policies regarding large carnivores
- strategies for the promotion of recycling and other pro-environmental behaviours
- effects of noise in classrooms on cognitive capabilities
- public acceptance of wind power and other energy sources
- the ecological and psychosocial trade-offs with increased residential densities in large cities
- effects of community noise on health, the design of transportation management strategies
- psychological benefits of contact with nature
- the effects of workplace environmental characteristics on the performance of work-tasks
Evident in this list of topics and the Swedish research more generally are the dual intentions of understanding the effects of physical environments on people and understanding the effects of people on environments. These core concerns of environmental psychology overlap with the concerns of various environmental professions, and this explains why the Area Group has always had an interdisciplinary character.
Members of the Area Group come from several academic and professional disciplines in addition to psychology. A complete list cannot be given here, but architecture and landscape architecture deserve special mention, given the particularly important role that representatives of those disciplines have played over the years. Urban horticulture, environmental medicine, ecology, nursing, medicine and numerous other disciplines have also been represented over the years.
The Area Group in Environmental Psychology was established in 1985 by leading members of the first generation of Swedish environmental psychologists, including Tommy Gärling, Rikard Küller, Birgitta Berglund, Staffan Hygge, Anders Kjellberg, Lars Sivik, and Gunnar Sorte.
The group has held annual meetings from the start, rotating among the main centers as follows: Stockholm (1985, 1986, 1990, 1994, 1999, 2004, 2008); Gothenburg (1987, 1992, 1996, 2001, 2005, 2009); Lund (1988, 1993, 1997, 2002, 2006, 2010); Umeå (1989); and Gävle (1991, 1995, 2000, 2003, 2007, 2011).
The Area Group has had two previous chairs: Tommy Gärling (1985-2002), the founding chair, and his successor, Terry Hartig (2003-2010), Maria Johansson 2010-2012, Cecilia Bergstad Jacobsson 2013---.
Over the initial years of its existence, meetings of the Area Group were sponsored by the Swedish Council for Research in the Humanities and Social Sciences (HSFR). In recent years, support for the meetings has come from the Swedish Research Council for Environment, Agricultural Sciences and Spatial Planning (FORMAS).
Further information about the development of environmental psychology in Sweden is available in the following publications:
LINK TO: Rikard: Handbook chapter, chapter in Maria and Marianne’s 2005 anthology
LINK TO: Tommy: JEP articles about EP in Sweden (1992), obituary of Sven Hesselgren (1993), chapter in the 2005 anthology