A pragmatic environmental psychology: A metatheoretical inquiry into the work of M. Powell Lawton

Keith Diaz Moore, Kimberly VanHaitsma, Kim Curyto, Avalie Saperstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Environmental psychology is a field of such great diversity - in topics of interest, research approaches, in disciplinarity - that it often appears to lack coherence, exemplified by its poor fit within paradigmatic frameworks found in academic psychology, resulting in its "outlier" status. This paper explores the work of the environmental gerontologist M. Powell Lawton, as an exemplar of environmental psychology research, suggesting that such a review renders greater insight into the current state of the field than any top-down applied conceptual framework. Themes discussed include Lawton's theoretical perspective on the person, the environment, and the relationship between them, his inquiry at various units of analysis; the type of knowledge valued as evidenced in his work; and his fundamental applied orientation, all of which are reflective of contemporary directions within environmental psychology as a whole. Reviewed is Lawton's final proposal that takes an "epistemologically inclusive" approach, embodying all of the themes above and reflective of inquiry sought within pragmatic psychology. As such, it is argued that environmental psychology may find great affinity with the pragmatic psychology approach currently gaining impetus within applied and clinical psychology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)471-482
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Environmental Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2003

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Applied Psychology


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