How environments shape our behaviours

6th November 2915: Sydney Australia

I am writing this from the pharmacy reception, and feeling fortunate of only needing to spend a fraction of my time in this place when seeing my doctor due to the hostile, unfriendly and overall negative atmosphere that always seems present. I was feeling extremely positive about my entry today till being placed within this place. My intentions shifted from a positive mind-state, highlighting a new addition to my daily routine to a negative experience examining an idea on the correlation between an environment and the behaviours of existing occupants. Recollections of all visits to this department never elicit a positive experience. Instead, the points coming to mind is the encountered unnecessary difficulty and an extremely unhelpful team of rude staff. Factors not needed when already processing the information of the task ahead.

A number of examples can be draw upon when thinking about the correlations between an environment and the behaviours of the particular population. For instance, there is research detailing the significant crime drops noted in varying cities where police have taken a more proactive approach to working with the community rather than an approach deemed ‘over policing’ or other examples, such as decisions made by governments to improve social cohesion and safety within sections of a city where a diverse range of housing options are available, opposed to historic clustering of public housing with poor lighting, unsuitable street design and limited commercial development within the area. The introduction of classical music in malls to decrease the likelihood of anti-social behaviours by young people is another example of the power of the environment influencing the behaviours of those who occupy it. An experiment I would like to trial would be located within a men’s toilet of all places. My reasoning derives from a recent visit to a notable Sydney venue with impeccable water views. Since my last visit, attention had been placed on taking advantage of the spectacular position of the establishment, thus, a wide spreading beer garden overlooked the water, a DJ was playing summer tunes in a makeshift garden and overall a really fantastic environment had been created. The interesting observation was that any renovations that occurred failed to take into account the men’s toilet. Consequently, a quick walk lead me into this completely different world, and unsurprisingly the men’s toilet resembled what people would think a male’s toilets would look like. One could not imagine the same mental output was put towards creating a fun summer scene outside was leaving the toilet in such a state. The question I pose is whether people behaved in such a way (I don’t think details are required) because the poor environment they found themselves within. Would the behaviours of the people who use the bathroom be the same if they were using bright, well-designed and hygienic facilities rather than a dark, cold and unclean toilet?

If the above hypothesis is correct and we were the experience above as an example, then what could be the reason for the pharmacy acting as the equivalent as the males toilet, and why does it differ to the usual department visited when seeing my doctor? The response I pose was highlighted in the comments made by another person waiting to collect their medication. The guy said, ‘they don’t care about us waiting as they have the drugs and they know we all want the drugs’. The comment explicitly shows a complete similarity between the actions of the employees of pharmacy department and actual drug dealers selling illicit substances. In each case, an imbalance of power exists with the person wanting or needing the drugs from a supplier, and the supplier regardless of whether selling cocaine or chemotherapy is aware of the persons want/need. Therefore, it appears the environment has created context for the employees to abuse their power, be casual with their timeframes and speak rudely to people seeking their support. A final thought, and maybe an exaggeration, however, the Stanford Prison Experiment comes to mind when writing the entry, so if you are unfamiliar with the experiment, then I highly suggest reading it if not known. It is a clear indication of the profound influence of the environment on those whom occupy it.

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