The Physical and Social Environments as Determinants of Health: Implications for Substance and Behavioral Addictions

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Rose Ewald (Creator)
Muhsin Michael Orsini, AP Assistant Professor and Director of the Undergraduate Program (Creator)
Lawrence M. Scheier (Creator)
Robert W. Strack, Associate Professor and Department Head (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
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Abstract: Whether unintentional or by design, built, social, and perceived environments influence the human experience. Behavior is not solely the product of a rational motivated actor, operating independently from his or her environment; rather, it is also a function of edifices, neighborhoods, and public spaces, as well as the inhabitants, community norms, and the social capital they generate. Likewise, addictive behaviors have as much to do with the environmental contexts surrounding individuals as with their unique biological factors, specific brain mechanisms, and psychogenic causes. Any attempt to address addiction at either individual or population levels would benefit from careful consideration of the social and contextual influences on cognitions, opportunities, motivations, and behaviors. Interventions informed by this understanding are more likely to be efficacious than those solely targeted toward individual biology, motivations, or attitudes. In this chapter, we discuss the relationship between physical and social environments (PSE), health, and the behavior of humans. We then focus on the influential role of the PSE on the consumption of alcohol, tobacco, and other substances; food, eating behaviors, and addictions contributing to the current obesity epidemic; and a selection of other behavioral addictions. The chapter closes by discussing methodological considerations and implications for professional practice.

Additional Information

Steven Y. Sussman (Ed.), The Cambridge Handbook of Substance and Behavioral Addictions (pp. 182-198). New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.
Language: English
Date: 2020
built environment, outlet density, public spaces, normative environment, social capital, collective efficacy, PSE

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