Journal of population

, Volume 1, Issue 3, pp 189–202 | Cite as

When density matters: Environmental control as a determinant of crowding effects in laboratory and residential settings

  • Sheldon Cohen
  • Drury R. Sherrod


We have argued that the influence of high levels of density on human health and behavior may be determined more by the individual's beliefs about hislher relationship to the environment than by the environment itself.An important implication of this analysis is that the behavior and health of those experiencing high density conditions can be altered (improved?) not only by changing their environment, but also by changing their attitudes toward their environment. Thus both interventions that actually provide people with the opportunity to terminate, periodically escape, or modify unwanted stimulation and those that otherwise provide them with the belief that such changes are within their power should similarly ameliorate the negative impact of high density.


Negative Impact Important Implication Environmental Control Density Matter Density Condition 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Aiello, J.R., DeRisi, D.T., Epstein, Y.M., & Karlin, R.A. Crowding and the role of interpersonal distance preference.Sociometry, 1977,40, 271–282.Google Scholar
  2. Aiello, J.R., Epstein, Y.M., & Karlin, R.A. Field experimental research on human crowding. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Western Psychological Association, Sacramento, California, 1975.Google Scholar
  3. Altman, I.The environment and social behavior Monterey, CA: Brooks-Cole, 1975.Google Scholar
  4. Bandura, A. Self-efficacy: Toward and unifying theory of behavioral change.Psychological Review, 1977,84, 191–215.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Baron, R.M., Mandel, D.R., Adams, C.A.,& Griffen, L.M.. Effects of social density in university residential environments.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 1976,34, 434–446.Google Scholar
  6. Baron, R.M., & Rodin, J. Perceived control and crowding stress: Processes mediating the impact of spatial and social density.Psychological Review, 1978, in press.Google Scholar
  7. Baum, A., Harpin, R.E., & Valins, S. The role of group phenomena in the experience of crowding.Environment and Behavior, 1975,7, 185–197.Google Scholar
  8. Baum, A., & Valins, S.Architecture and social behavior. Hillsdale, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1977.Google Scholar
  9. Booth, A.Final report: Urban crowding project. Ministry of State for Urban Affairs, Government of Canada, August, 1975.Google Scholar
  10. Booth, A., & Edwards, J.N. Crowding and family relations.American Sociological Review, 1976,41, 308–321.Google Scholar
  11. Booth, A., & Johnson, D.R.. The effect of crowding on child health and development.American Behavioral Scientist, 1975,18, 736–747.Google Scholar
  12. Booth, A., Welch, S., & Johnson, D.R. Crowding and urban crime rates.Urban Affairs Quarterly, 1976,11, 291–321.Google Scholar
  13. Cohen, S. Environmental load and the allocation of attention. In A. Baum, J.E. Singer, & S. Valins (Eds.),Advances in environmental psychology. Hillsdale, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1978.Google Scholar
  14. Cohen, S., Glass, D.C., & Phillips, S. Environmental factors in health. In H.E. Freeman, S. Levine, & L.G. Reeder (Eds.)Handbook of medical sociology. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1978.Google Scholar
  15. Cohen, S., Rothbart, M., & Phillips, S. Locus of control and the generality of learned helplessness in humans.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 1976,34, 1049–1056.Google Scholar
  16. D'Atri, D.A. Psychophysiological responses to crowding.Environment and Behavior, 1975,7, 237–252.Google Scholar
  17. Dean, L.M., Pugh, W.M., & Gunderson, E. Spatial and perceptual components of crowding: Effects on health and satisfaction.Environment & Behavior, 1975,7, 225–236.Google Scholar
  18. Deci, E.L.Intrinsic motivation. New York: Plenum 1975.Google Scholar
  19. de Charms, R.Personal causation, New York: Academic Press, 1968.Google Scholar
  20. Evans, G.W. Behavioral and physiological consequences of crowding in humans.Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 1978, in press.Google Scholar
  21. Fischer, C.S., Baldassare, M., & Ofshe, R.J. Crowding studies and urgan life: A critical review.American Institute of Planners Journal, 1975,41, 406–418.Google Scholar
  22. Freedman, J.Crowding and behavior. San Francisco: W. H. Freeman & Co., 1975.Google Scholar
  23. Freedman, J.L., Heshka, S., & Levy, A. Population density and pathology: Is there a relationship?Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 1975,11, 539–552.Google Scholar
  24. Freedman, J.L., Klevansky, S., & Ehrlich, P.R. The effect of crowding on human task performance.Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 1971,1, 7–25.Google Scholar
  25. Galle, O., Gove, W., McPherson, J. Population density and pathology: What are the relations for man?Science, 1972,176, 23–30.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. Gillis, A. Population density and social pathology: The case of building type, social allowance, and juvenile delinquency.Social Forces, 1974,53, 306.Google Scholar
  27. Glass, D.C., & Singer, J.E.Urban stress: Experiments on noise and social stressors. New York: Academic Press, 1972.Google Scholar
  28. Hiroto, D.S. Locus of control and learned helplessness.Journal of Experimental Psychology, 1974,102, 187–193.Google Scholar
  29. Karlin, R.A., Epstein, Y.M., & Aiello, J.R. A setting specific analysis of crowding. In A. Baum & Y. Epstein (Eds.),Human responses to crowding. Hillsdale, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1978.Google Scholar
  30. Krantz, D., & Stone, V. Locus of control and the effects of success and failure in young and community residing aged women.Journal of Personality, 1978, in press.Google Scholar
  31. Langer, E.J., & Rodin, J. The effects of choice and enhanced personal responsibility for the aged: A field experiment in an institutional setting.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 1976,34, 191–198.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  32. Langer, E.J., & Saegert, S. Crowding and cognitive control.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 1977,35, 175–182.Google Scholar
  33. Lawrence, J.E. Science and sentiment: Overview of research on crowding and human behavior.Psychological Bulletin, 1974,81, 712–720.Google Scholar
  34. Levy, L., & Herzog, A.N. Effects of population density and crowding on health and social adaptation in the Netherlands.Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 1974,15, 228–240.Google Scholar
  35. McPherson, J.M. Population density and social pathology: A reexamination.Sociological Symposium, 1975,13, 77–90.Google Scholar
  36. Mitchell, R.E. Some social implications of high-density housing.American Sociological Review, 1971,36, 18–29.Google Scholar
  37. Paulus, P.B., Annis, A.B., Seta, J.J., Schkade, J.K., & Matthews, R.W. Density does affect task performance.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 1976,34, 248–253.Google Scholar
  38. Rodin, J. Density, perceived choice and response to controllable and uncontrollable outcomes. Unpublished manuscript, Yale University, 1977.Google Scholar
  39. Schmitt, R.C. Density, health, and social disorganization.Journal of the American Institute of Planners, 1966,32, 38–40.Google Scholar
  40. Schopler, J., & Walton, M. The effects of structure, expected enjoyment, and participants' internality-externality upon feelings of being crowded. Unpublished manuscript. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1974.Google Scholar
  41. Schulz, R. Effects of control and predictability on the physical and psychological wellbeing of the institutionalized aged.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 1976,33, 563–573.Google Scholar
  42. Seligman, M.P.Helplessness: On depression, development, and death. San Francisco: W. H. Freeman & Co., 1975.Google Scholar
  43. Sherrod, D.R. Crowding, perceived control, and behavioral aftereffects.Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 1974,4, 171–186.Google Scholar
  44. Sherrod, D.R. Crowding, perceived control, and behavioral atereffects.Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 1974,4, 171–186.Google Scholar
  45. Stokols, D. The experience of crowding in primary and secondary environments.Environment and Behavior, 1976,8, 49–86.Google Scholar
  46. Sundstrom, E. Crowding as a sequential process: Review of research on the effects of population density on humans. In A. Baum & Y. Epstein (Eds.),Human Response to Crowding. Hillsdale, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1978.Google Scholar
  47. Valins, S., & Baum, A. Residential group size, social interaction and crowding.Environmental and Behavior, 1973,5, 421–439.Google Scholar
  48. Ward, S.K. Overcrowding and social pathology: A re-examination of the implications for the human population.Human Ecology, 1975,3, 275–286.Google Scholar
  49. Welch, S., & Booth, A. Crowding and civil disorder.Comparative Political Studies, 1975,8, 58–74.Google Scholar
  50. Winsborough, H.H.. The social consequences of high population density.Law and Contemporary Problems, 1965,30, 120–126.Google Scholar
  51. Worchel, S., & Teddlie, C. Factors affecting the experience of crowding: A two-factor theory.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 1976,34, 30–40.Google Scholar
  52. Zlutnick, S., & Altman, I. Crowding and human behavior. In J.F. Wohlwill & D.H. Carson (Eds.),Environment and the Social Sciences: Perspectives and Applications. Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association, 1972.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Human Sciences Press 1978

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sheldon Cohen
    • 1
    • 2
  • Drury R. Sherrod
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of OregonEugene
  2. 2.Pitzer CollegeClaremontUSA

Personalised recommendations