This subfield extends beyond the traditional built environment of psychology in order to examine why people continue environmentally damaging behaviour, and to develop methods of positive motivation for adopting sustainable practices. Evidence suggests that many environmentally damaging behaviours are addictive at some level, and thus are more effectively addressed through positive emotional fulfillment rather than by inflicting shame. Other names used to refer to ecopsychology include, Gaia psychology,psychoecology, ecotherapy, environmental psychology, green psychology, global therapy, green therapy, Earth-centered therapy, reearthing, nature-based psychotherapy, shamanic counselling, ecosophy and sylvan therapy.
The main premise of ecopsychology is that while today the human mind is shaped by the modern social world, it is adapted to the natural environment in which it evolved. According to the biophilia hypothesis of biologist E.O. Wilson, human beings have an innate instinct to connect emotionally with nature, particularly the aspects of nature that recall what evolutionary psychologists have termed the environment of evolutionary adaptiveness, the natural conditions that the human species evolved to inhabit.
Reasons to embrace nature
- Ecopsychology explores how to develop emotional bonds with nature. It considers this to be worthwhile because when nature is explored and viewed without judgement, it gives the sensations of harmony, balance, timelessness and stability. Ecopsychology largely rejects views of nature that focus upon rudimentary building blocks such as genes, and that describe nature as selfish and a struggle to survive. Ecopsychology considers that there has been insufficient scientific description and exploration of nature, in terms of wildness, parsimony, spirituality and emotional ties. For example, parsimony is the best way to produce an evolutionary tree of the species (cladistics), suggesting that parsimonious adaptations are selected. Yet today, the brain is often seen as complicated and governed by inherited mind modules, rather than being a simple organ that looks for parsimony within the influences of its surroundings, resulting in the compaction in minds of a great diversity of concepts