Describe and explain the psychological processes and various others factors that contribute to:
1) a racialized perception of particular environments,
2) a valuing (or devaluing) of particular environments based on such racial understandings and associations and
3) the performance of pro-environmental (or unsustainable) behaviors with respect to such environments.
HINT: You could address each of these questions with roughly one page each.
Lastly, consider your neighborhood in particular. Do you feel that the majority of your community residents, or even visitors to your community, act in an sustainable (environmentally or socially) way in regard to the treatment of your neighborhood (streets, sidewalks, public spaces, etc)? Why or why not? Based on what was discussed above, how might race and/or class play a factor?
You should draw upon all the readings and media for Week 2. As you connect and answer the above questions, be sure use in-text citations of the course materials to support and provide context for your positions. Also, be sure to find at least two additional scholarly references. The paper should have at least 7 references with in-text citations. The two required videos may also serve as references.
Racialized Perception of Environment
Although humans are the most developed and sophisticated of all creatures, specific elements, chiefly among race relations paint the image of a people that are divided along racial lines, with different races pulling in different directions. The diversity in the different races has often caused tensions, with minority groups bearing the brunt of such differences. Although skin colour and other physical attributes are the primary factors used to determine racial identity, society has overtime developed other secondary considerations that help differentiate between different races. Foremost among these secondary factors is physical space such as buildings, economic level and the state of the environment. Generally, the value attached to the factors mentioned above determines the racial group residing in a particular environment.
Contribution of Psychological Processes to Perception of The Environment.
Generally, the socialization process, or how people are brought up, determine the value one attaches to different environments. Indeed, the information fed to people in the socialization -process determines the mental images they create about specific environments and their perceptions of the people residing in such environments. For example, historically, people have been socialized to perceive the white race as a privileged group whose members have access to some exclusive benefits that are inaccessible to people from other racial groups. Due to such beliefs, society often associates white neighbourhoods with better facilities compared to areas inhabited by other racial groups. For example, people associate white residences with ivy league schools, affluent suburbs and hockey rinks (Bonam, Taylor, & Yantis, 2017, 4). On the other hand, other racial groups, such as African Americans are deemed inferior. Consequently, people are likely to associate such neighbourhoods with crime, dirty and polluted environment and uncivilization (Todd, 2019, 4). On the whole, psychological processes and the related mental images inform the value attached to different environments.
Psychological processes play a significant role in creating racial stereotypes about particular environments and their inhabitants. For example, the belief that white people reside in areas with an abundance of resources informs the stereotype relating to their lack of opportunistic traits (Bonam, Taylor, & Yantis, 2017, 5). Indeed, the belief that white people are less opportunistic stems out of the assumption that with an abundance of resources and opportunities, people are unlikely to engage in stiff competition, thereby eliminating opportunism. On the other hand, the belief that African American neighbourhoods are resource-lacking informs the belief that impulsive and opportunistic behaviour characterizes such environments (Bonam, Taylor, & Yantis, 2017, 5). Primarily, the need for survival amid difficulties informs the assumptions towards the areas inhabited by African Americans. On the whole, psychological processes inform people’s perceptions about particular environments and their inhabitants.
Psychological Factors Involved in Valuing/Devaluing of Environments
Psychological processes have a significant influence on the way society perceives a particular group of people. Indeed, over time, long-held perceptions evolve to the point where people are likely to associate them with the truth. For example, in the US, there is a general perception that black people are violent and therefore, dangerous to live with (Hawkins, n.d., 190). This perception has led to the devaluation of black lives and everything associated with black people. Bonam, Taylor, & Yantis (2017, 5) contends that compared to whites, black lives are valued less by the entire American society. The devaluation manifests in different forms, ranging from criminal sentencing, homeownership, limited response to incidences of crime and other judicial matters and devaluation of property Bonam, Taylor, & Yantis (2017, 3)). On the whole, the long-held perception that black people are violent and dangerous informs the low value attached to African American lives.
Systematic discrimination is also one of the factors that cause devaluation of particular groups. For example, under the federal administration and G.I Bill, the government enhanced homeownership by subsidizing loans (Bonam, Taylor, & Yantis, 2017 3). However, the policy discriminated against African Americans. Besides, despite subsidizing the cost of construction, especially for suburban homes, the federal housing administration made it illegal for black Americans to purchase the newly constructed houses, consequently leading to a white-only population in the affected areas (Bonam, Taylor, & Yantis, 2017 3). Such discriminative policies result in the formation of cheap black neighbourhoods whose standards are far much lower than the houses occupied by whites and other dominant groups. Unfortunately, such segregation paints the impression that a particular racial group, in this context, the white, is superior to other groups and that the latter is of a lower value in all aspects. On the whole, discriminating government policies contribute to a psychological process that attaches low value to a particular racial group.
The low value attached to black Americans, mainly due to the perception that they are violent and dangerous, and in part due to systematic discrimination raises other inequalities, further demonstrating the effects of psychological processes on the environment, life and property. For example, the continued perception that African Americans are of a lower quality compared to other groups has resulted in the devaluation of property and houses owned by black Americans (Ojeda, Jacquez, & Takash, 2009, 2). For example, the median cost of a home in areas where the black population is less than 1% of the total population is $784,000 while the cost of a similar house in a black-majority neighbourhood is approximately $131,000 (Perry, Rothwell, & Hershberger, 2018, 4). In addition, Perry, Rothwell, & Hershberger (2018, 4) contend that the cost of homes in black-majority neighbourhoods is just 17% of the cost of property in areas where African Americans are the minority. On the whole, psychological processes create the impression that a particular racial group is of high or low quality. This factor influences the value attached to the property associated with such a group.
Psychological Processes and Pro-Environmental Behaviour
Psychological processes have fundamental impacts on the environmental behaviour portrayed by people living in a particular place. Indeed, the value attached to a specific group plays a vital role in determining the depth of attention paid to such an area concerning pro-environmental action. Todd (2019, 4) contends that often, areas inhabited by people with perceived high value, such as American whites, are likely to benefit from increased environmental action, thus leading to a clean and safe environment. On the other hand, places where minority groups with a perceived lower value are the majority, are likely to suffer neglect, thus predisposing them to high pollution levels (Bonam, Taylor, & Yantis, 2017 3). On the whole, psychological processes and related perceptions can result in increased or decreased pro-environmental action depending on the value attached to the people residing in a particular area.
While race plays a significant role in informing the extent of pro-environment action, poverty is perhaps the most significant impediment to achieving a safe, healthy environment. Ordinarily, areas associated with high levels of poverty, regardless of the race, tend to suffer from high levels of pollution and less environmental action (Chukwu, 2008 599). For example, the concentration of poor neighbourhoods is highest in areas surrounding industrial locations such as Teesside (Bush, Moffatt, & Dunn, 2001, 48). Unfortunately, due to the seemingly low value attached to the residents of such places, pro-environment action is limited, hence leading to high levels of pollution. In general, psychological processes that create the impression that poor people are somewhat insignificant lead to limited environmental action.
Social and Environmental Action in My Neighbourhood
I live in a mixed-race neighbourhood that has a reputation for safety, peaceful coexistence and heightened social and environmental awareness. Although my community boasts of people from different racial backgrounds, whites and Latinos form the majority. Those of African descent are the minority. Fortunately, despite the race and cultural differences, people live harmoniously and with a great sense of responsibility. People rarely engage in conflicts, and in case they do, the differences are solved amicably, therefore avoiding the unnecessary drama that is typical in most mixed-race neighbourhoods. While living in distinct non-block houses has played an integral role in eliminating constant and unnecessary interactions that can lead to conflict, a shared dedication to peace, welfare and harmonious coexistence is perhaps the greatest contributor to the peace and safety enjoyed in the community.
One highly notable aspect about my community is the heightened sense of responsibility towards the environment. Upon visiting, one will notice lush green lawns and trash bins lined up along the houses. The primary role of those litter bins is to accommodate all forms of trash, hence ensuring that people do not litter the environment. While such facilities are accessible in other areas, the failure to use them appropriately leads to environmental pollution. Fortunately, people in my neighbourhood seemingly value environmental cleanness, an aspect that explains the few incidences of littering.
A great sense of awareness on the effects of sound pollution is also one of the most conspicuous aspects of my neighbourhood. Even though the majority of people own high-quality sound systems, it is rare to find anyone playing loud music. Undoubtedly, loud music does cause not only noise but also environmental pollution. As such, the absence of unnecessary noise enhances the ambience, hence making our community hospitable. The lack of noise pollution is attributable to an estate policy that outlaws loud music and events that can lead to noise pollution. By cooperating and abiding by the established rule, people in my neighbourhood demonstrate civility and concern for the environment.
A heightened sense of social concern is another aspect that describes my neighbourhood. Even though our country is largely capitalistic, where individual desires are expected to take pre-eminence, people demonstrate a desire to shelve individual ambitions for the good of the community. For example, in the event, an issue that requires collective effort arises, people are not reluctant to shelve their activities in pursuit of the shared goal. Primarily, this sense of shared responsibility has helped create harmony among residents, while ensuring making it easy to solve challenges that concern the entire community. On the whole, the great concern for shared responsibilities depicted by my community demonstrates rare unity, especially in a mixed-race environment.
Whereas everyone in my estate acts responsibly by demonstrating respect for others and concern for the environment, the same cannot be said of outsiders. For example, I have noted that new people, especially those visiting relatives or friends, are likely to litter the environment or engage in drunkard brawls. Whenever such happens, the estate coordinator summons the affected parties in order to update them on the community’s rules and regulations. What surprises me the most is that new people contravene the rules despite the presence of signposts detailing the laid down rules in almost every corner. Fortunately, such people mend their ways and acclimatize with the community’s procedures in a matter of days.
In my view, the behaviour demonstrated by my community does not indicate the consequences of psychological processes concerning the environment and civility. Considering that the community is mixed race, one would expect people to engage in regular conflicts due to the differences in the value attached to a particular group. For example, if people acted as per the psychological processes covered in my class, black people, who society perceives to be violent, would not co-exist with whites, a race that is deemed superior and more sophisticated. However, the behaviour portrayed by visitors, especially the lack of concern for the environment, demonstrates the effects of psychological processes on people from less developed suburbs, where environmental action and concern is limited. On the whole, the uniformity of behaviour in my community makes it challenging to abide by the principles of psychological processes covered in my class.
Generally, psychological processes play a fundamental role in the creation of perceptions about particular groups. While such beliefs might not be entirely accurate, the impact on society is profound. For example, the long-held perception that black Americans are violent makes society devalue their life and property. As a result, the cost of houses in black neighbourhoods is far much less than the price of similar houses in white residences; this is a disadvantage to black homeowners whose property is sold below the market value. On the other hand, the historical perception that whites are privileged causes people to associate success with white neighbourhoods.
Chukwu, G. U. (2008). Poverty-driven causes and effects of environmental degradation in Nigeria. Pacific Journal of Science and Technology, 9(2), 599-602.
Bonam, C. M., Taylor, V. J., & Yantis, C. (2017). Racialized physical space as cultural product. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 11(9), e12340.
Bush, J., Moffatt, S., & Dunn, C. (2001). ‘Even the birds round here cough’: stigma, air pollution and health in Teesside. Health & place, 7(1), 47-56.
Hawkins, D. F. (n.d.). Devalued Lives and Racial Stereotypes Ideological Barriers to the Prevention of Family Violence Among Blacks. United States.
Ojeda, R. H., Jacquez, A., & Takash, P. C. (2009). The end of the American dream for Blacks and Latinos. William C. Velasquez Institute, White Paper.
Perry, A., Rothwell, J., & Hershberger, D. (2018). The devaluation of assets in black neighbourhoods. The Brookings Institute.
Todd Brown. (2019). Racialized Architectural Space: A Critical Understanding of its Production, Perception and Evaluation. Architecture-media-politics-society, 15(3)