Research Topic

Achieving Well-Being - Bridging Psychological Distance in Our Environment

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The global environment in which human lives, including politics, economy, and social culture, is becoming more complex. In their recent studies, Pomeroy, Dasandi, and Mikhaylov show that countries are developing distrust towards each other and this uneasy atmosphere has a psychological impact at different ...

The global environment in which human lives, including politics, economy, and social culture, is becoming more complex. In their recent studies, Pomeroy, Dasandi, and Mikhaylov show that countries are developing distrust towards each other and this uneasy atmosphere has a psychological impact at different levels: from environmental treaties and social justice to trade frictions and the alienation between people.

This alienation creates psychological distance, which has been defined by Dhar and Kim in 2007 as a pure perspective orientation. Psychological distance has been widely applied in interpersonal relationships, social cognition, decision-making, and consumer-behavior. This concept emphasized the importance of the individual’s perception and understanding of the environment, depending on the mental representation of the matter, as suggested by Liberman, Sagristano & Trope in 2002. Psychological distance involves describing subjective judgments of distance when predicting, evaluating, and acting on the environment—based on the degree of acceptance and willingness to contribute. It can describe the degree of fit or interaction between the subject and the perceived object – playing a fundamental role in our lives.

In 2016, Lindern found that the level of psychological distance that people experienced was significantly related to their well-being. Specifically, people with high-level of psychological closeness and positive psychological properties tend to have a high level of life satisfaction and well-being. According to Horvath in his 2018 studies, this is because the psychological properties that are central to the person, such as intrinsic motives, can promote long-term satisfaction and wellbeing perception. Well-being, as defined by Friedman in 1976, is people's positive evaluation of their own lives, including positive emotions, total commitment, satisfaction and sense of meaning. Furthermore, Kahneman and colleagues in 1999 and 2004 divided wellbeing into "experienced wellbeing", which refers to people's satisfaction with their emotional state in life moments, and "evaluated wellbeing", which can be explained as the general subjective evaluation of life. The former is based on the moments of life, the latter on the memories of life.

In order to develop targeted strategies to achieve wellbeing, it is crucial that we understand the complex human behavior towards the environment we live in. In the context of the ecological environment, there is an increase in the psychological distance brought by the environmental health deficit between developed and developing countries, as noted by Magnusson, Schuster, and Taras in their 2014’s studies. Despite the widespread recognition that pollution, climate change, and conflicts are global threats to the wellbeing of human and non-human species, there is still limited willingness to change individuals’ behavior to mitigate our harmful impact. Furthermore, economic globalization has picked up speed, driven by the new technological progress. Håkanson and Ambos found in 2010 that due to the uneven level of economic development, unfair distribution of social resources and unequal individual opportunities, cognitive conflicts gap has emerged and caused a growing psychological distance between countries, economies, enterprises, and the public. Finally, in the cultural environment, Sousa and Bradley mentioned in 2006 that our cultural diversity causing people to perceive the same issue with different psychological processes and patterns, causing an increasing distance, which inevitably leads to conflict and hostility.

Recent studies in environmental psychology from Fabio and Tsuda in 2018, Saeki and colleagues in 2018, and Calbi and colleagues in 2017 focused on the effects of different levels of environmental stimuli and human’s responses in different contexts (e.g. stress, comfort, and wellbeing). Psychological distance theory began to be applied in the field of environment, which provides new ideas and theoretical methods to solve the current environmental behavior problems.

This Research Topic aims to incorporate the psychological distance construct within a wider research perspective, focusing on the environment we live in., in order to advance the understanding of what it takes for humans to reach a higher level of life satisfaction and well-being in life.
We welcome topics addressing, but not limited to:
- Current research outcomes, theories, and methods related to psychological distance;
- Psychological distance relative to major social issues (e.g., environmental, health, and safety governance);
- Psychological distance, green lifestyles and everyday behavior contributing to mitigate environmental pollution and threats;
- Comparative studies addressing cultural and economic differences related to psychological distance


Keywords: well-being, psychological distance, green lifestyle, major social issues, theory and method, comparative study


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02 June 2020 Manuscript

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02 June 2020 Manuscript

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