Environmental Psychology and Personal Frustration

Environmental Frustration

Our environment is full of obstacles that impede our progress. Our physical environment may frustrate us drastically at times through earthquakes, tornadoes, famines, or floods. It also provides innumerable petty frustrations the barking dog that keeps us awake at night, the traffic jam, the uneven sidewalk that makes us stumble, the pen that will not write, or the rain at the ball game. So read on to learn more about Environmental Psychology and Personal Frustration.

More serious, generally, are the obstacles provided by our social environment. Formal laws and social conventions prevent us from freely expressing many of our impulses. The man who has to work with unpleasant associates, the orphan cared for in the impersonal atmosphere of an institution, and the member of a minority group in a prejudiced community all suffer social frustrations.

Personal Frustration

An individual suffers personal frustration when he is prevented from realizing his ambitions by some personal limitation—either real or imagined. A boy who wants to play on the school basketball team may be thwarted by his lack of height. It is related to conflict frustration but builds up in a different way.

An individual who wants to go to a particular college may be thwarted by his inability to pass the entrance examination. Both physical and psychological barriers may be sources of personal frustration. For example, a boy may be shy because he feels that he is physically unattractive or because he feels that he lacks social skills.

Personal frustration often builds up a feeling of inferiority and a feeling of lacking personal value which may, in turn, increase that frustration. A questionnaire administered to a large group of college students showed that fewer than 10 percent of the respondents had never experienced inferiority feelings about some aspect of their personal capacities—physical, social, intellectual, or moral. But college students as a group actually tend to be superior in all of these categories. Why, then, did they see themselves as inferior?

The answer to this paradox lies in the fact that feelings of inferiority are based not on actual inferiority but rather on one’s level of aspiration. College students feel the need to compare themselves not to the population in general—to whom they are clearly superior but to other college students. If an individual’s level of success in some activity falls below the level of the goal he has set for himself, he unrealistic expectations only invite failure ad feeling of inferiority.

We’re talking about Conflict Frustration when we’re dealing with situations where individuals need to choose one of two goals or have both negative and positive feelings about some particular goal. Then they face conflict frustration. Because motives can be either negative or positive, either avoiding or seeking—there will be 4 four possible conflict types: avoidance-avoidance, approach-approach, approach-avoidance, or double approach-avoidance.