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10. Environmental Assessment

DescriptionEnvironmental legislation has created a need for environmental assessments in a number of countries. Craik and Feimer argue that environmental assessments are an important area of scientific research within applied environmental psychology. They consider that any research that manipulates, contrasts, or specifies environmental characteristics uses environmental assessment in some form (p. 912). This paper outlines the salient features of techniques used in environmental assessments.
MethodologyThe paper describes the early environmental assessment work, explaining the logic behind its development. Three types of assessment were identified: evaluative, descriptive and predictive. The methodological and technological issues raised by these assessments were reviewed. Empirical studies of the effectiveness of different types of simulations were analysed.
ResultsThe need for standard methods of assessment is acknowledged by the authors who consider that this is hampered by the variety of relevant units of analysis in use. The lack of research into the effectiveness of simulation techniques is noted. Craik and Feimer suggest wider applications for environmental assessments in design and decision making processes.
PublishedD Stokols and I. Altman (eds.) Handbook of environmental psychology. Ch 23, pp. 891-918,
AuthorsCraik, K.H. and Feimer, N.R.
PublisherNew York: Wiley (out of print)
Price170 (Hardback)
Keywordsenvironmental assessment; environmental psychology; environmental planning
CommentsThis paper provides a good critique of environmental assessment techniques. It is frequently cited in research and discusses issues which are also relevant to landscape evaluations and preference studies. The authors are primarily concerned with assessing the validity of quantitative techniques used in assessments and the practical application of environmental psychology to the design, planning and management of the environment. Theoretical issues are largely ignored.