FEATURED ARTICLE

Celebrating 30 years of the Journal of Environmental Psychology

A glance at three decades of indicators that highlight the journal's important scientific impact.

By Taciano L. Milfont and Maria Lewicka

The first issue of the Journal of Environmental Psychology (JEP) was published in 1981. To celebrate the first 30 years of the journal last year, Milfont and Page (in press) conducted a bibliometric review of full-length articles published across the three decades. In this short piece, we will summarize their main findings and will also provide additional evidence of the liveliness of JEP.

Initial indicators

In their original review of 858 full-length articles published in JEP from 1981 to 2011, Milfont and Page (in press) report a number of indicators, including "Top 10 Lists" of countries, authors, universities and most cited JEP articles, as well as number of authors per publication, articles by thematic coding, journal length and impact factor. Here we only report a brief summary of their findings.

The United States is the country with the most publications in JEP and the University of California (mainly the Irvine campus) is the highest publishing university with 28 publications. International submission is nevertheless large, with submissions from 42 different countries in 2011, which sharply contrasts with submissions from 10 different countries in the first year of the journal (Canter, Craik, & Griffiths, 1982). Tommy Gärling, who is based in Sweden, is the author who has published most in JEP, with 23 publications. The impact factor of JEP has increased steadily, with a record high of 2.40 in 2012. The most prevalent themes for articles across the three decades of the journal are "Pro-Environmental Attitudes and Behavior," "Spatial Cognition" and "Place Attachment or Identity." Milfont and Page argue that these three themes form the coherent core demonstrating the distinctness of environmental psychology. In other words, these themes are the differentia specifica of the field, at least based on JEP publications.

By June 2012, the most highly cited JEP publication was a 1991 paper by Ulrich and Simons on the stress reducing influence of nature. This top cited article is followed by a 1983 theoretical and review paper by Proshansky, Fabian, and Kaminoff on place identity, and by a 1995 review article by Kaplan on restorative environments. The remaining articles in the list of citation classics have attracted about half of the citations of these top three articles. Besides being older and review articles, which predict citation counts, these top articles deal with core themes in the field which have also had a growth of interest recently (see details below). But recent articles can also have an impact in the field. A good example is the meta-analysis published by Bamberg and Mӧser in 2007 examining the psychosocial determinants of environmental engagement, which already is a citation classic (over 100 citations) despite having been published less than five years ago. Hence, review articles published in JEP that introduce and solidify topics that are broad in interdisciplinary scope tend to have the strongest impact.

Additional indicators

Inspired by the initial set of indicators summarized above, we ran additional scientometric computations of JEP. The first set of additional indicators focused on an overview of the years 2003-2012, which coincide with the first 10-year period the journal has been edited by Robert Gifford, and also an overview of 2009-2010 citations, which correspond to the citations included in the last computation of the impact factor of JEP. We used this first set of indicators to examine the dynamics of the international authorship of papers published in JEP and the degree to which it was reflected in the citation scores. The second set of additional indicators centers on an analysis of journals citing JEP publications. We used this second set of indicators to provide a snapshot of the scientific network of publications in JEP as well as qualitative information about who are the readers of JEP — that is, not only how many citations different papers get but also what kind of readers they attract. Below we summarize the main findings.

Countries of authors and citations. The first main observation refers to the dominance of particular countries represented in JEP publications. Authors' countries of JEP publications in the 2003-2012 period were recorded and classified into eight main groups of countries (see Table 1; 2012 publications were recorded up to July). Although there are 40 or more countries represented in JEP publications, there is a clear dominance of English-speaking countries, particularly USA and UK (Table 2). Apart from the English-speaking countries, the most frequent in terms of the authorship are publications from Western Europe and Scandinavian countries. Southern Europe seems to be gaining somewhat more importance recently, but almost totally unrepresented are authors from Central-Eastern Europe — the countries where environmental problems should soon likely attract much more attention both from academics and practitioners (Carter & Turnock, 1993). Overall, these differences in country representation seem to be robust across time, at least across the 2003-2012 period. A second set of additional indicators comes from citation analyses of articles published in 2009 and 2010, which served as the basis for the computation of the 2-years impact factor of JEP given in 2011. Table 3 presents the top 32 papers (out of the 128 published articles in the two years) cited at least six times, along with the number of citations and country of the authors/co-authors. Although papers authored or co-authored by authors from the USA clearly dominate when it comes to the number of published papers (see above), this dominance is less visible in the number of citations for this recent citation count. Nevertheless, when the citation counts are seen in relation to the country groups, English-speaking countries again prevail.

Table 1: Grouping of countries
Number Group of Countries Countries
1 English-speaking countries Australia, Canada, USA, UK, New Zealand
2 Western Europe Austria, Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland
3 Scandinavian countries Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland
4 Southern Europe France, Spain, Italy, Portugal
5 Central-Eastern Europe Poland, Romania, Russia
6 Asia China, Singapore, Taiwan, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Japan, India, Indonesia, South Korea
7 Latin America Brazil, Mexico, Chile
8 Africa/Near East Israel, Jordan, Nigeria, South Africa, Qatar, Turkey
Table 2: Authorship of articles published in JEP in years 2003-2012 by country
Country 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12

Sum

Australia 1 1

5

0 3 2 2 6 4 0 24
Austria 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 2 0 3
Belgium 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 2
Brazil 0 1 0 1 0 0 4 0 0 0 6
Canada 3 1 2 0 4 1 5 9 2 1 28
Chile

0

0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1
China

0

0 1 0 0 0 0 0 2 1 4
Denmark 1 1 0 1 0 0 1 0 1 0 5
Finland 0 2 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 4
France 0 2 1 1 1 0 5 0 4 4 18
Germany 5 4 1 5 4 2 3 3 0 3 30
Hong Kong 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 2
India 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 2 0 0 4
Indonesia 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1
Italy 0 3 1 2 1 3 3 3 1 3 20
Israel 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2
Japan 3 0 3 1 1 2 2 1 0 0 13
Jordan 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 41 1
Luxembourg 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1
Malaysia 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 2
Mexico 1 0 0 0 0 0 3 0 0 0 4
New Zealand 0 2 0 1 0 0 0 2 0 2 7
Nigeria 1 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 3
Norway 2 0 0 2 0 0 1 1 3 2 11
Poland 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 1 1 0 4
Portugal 0 1 2 0 0 0 3 0 1 1 8
Qatar 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1
Romania 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 2
Russia 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1
Singapore 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 1 0 3
South Africa 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
South Korea 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
Spain 0 0 0 0 1 0 3 3 1 0 8
Sweden 8 5 2 5 3 2 4 3 1 2 35
Switzerland 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 1 4
Taiwan 0 0 0 0 0 0 14 0 0 1 2
The Netherlands 5 3 3 2 2 2 8 5 3 2 35
Turkey 0 0 0 0 1 1 3 1 0 1 7
UK 1 2 2 2 3 5 10 11 7 5 50
USA 17 13 10 10 7 13 20 22 16 5 128

Journals citing JEP publications. This analysis sought to identify "JEP's friends," or journals whose authors regularly read and cite papers published in JEP. In examining citations of JEP publications, we focus only on those JEP publications that are in the upper 10 percent citations for publications in the "Social Sciences, General." To acquire this information we used Web of Science (under Additional resources → Essential Science Indicators → Baselines → View the percentiles table), which shows the frequency with which a paper needs to be cited to be among the top x percent of papers published in particular areas. According to the percentile table, for instance, a paper published in 2006 needs 18 citations to be among the top 10 percent of papers published in social sciences journals in that year. Following this approach, we examined a total of 146 JEP articles published in a 10-year period (from 2002 to 2011) that are among the top 10 percent social sciences papers (the overall number of JEP papers published in this period was 436). Altogether there were well over 3000 citations to those selected JEP articles, so we only report journal citations (excluding books, conference proceedings, etc.). Table 4 presents titles of the journals that cited the JEP top articles at least 15 times (PDF, 214KB).

Regarding the "JEP best friends" (i.e., journals that cite JEP publications the most), JEP is its own best friend with a high rate of self-citations (authors publishing in JEP cite other JEP publications). The rate of self-citation suggests that researchers who publish in JEP also read studies published in the journal. The journal Environment and Behavior is the second best friend of JEP, which is not surprising given the similar scope of these two journals (see Giuliani & Scopelliti, 2009). High rank of the landscape and planning journals confirms JEP's roots in architecture and urban planning, and also a clear overlap of research interests and theoretical approaches. Overall, the profile of citations also suggests that the journal draws attention of applied rather than basic research, and that JEP is clearly a multidisciplinary journal, including areas such as energy, health, education, transport, leisure, and climate. Equally important to who cites JEP articles are those who ignore these publications. The collected data suggest, for example, that JEP does not attract the attention of sociology journals, and to our surprise it does not draw much attention from geographers either. Similarly, JEP hardly captures the attention of social psychology journals. The best "friends" from this group are Journal of Applied Social Psychology (32 cites) and the British Journal of Social Psychology (15 cites). Although authors in this last journal seem to have an independent interest in JEP, in a number of cases where social psychology journals cite JEP publications it is because it is the self-citation of the author who happens to publish in both journals. Even more surprising is that JEP is not much present in community psychology journals and this despite common roots in such research areas as place attachment and a similar focus on neighborhoods. JEP's best "friend" from this group is the Journal of Community and Applied Social Psychology (19 cites), located in Europe. Fewer citations come from the American Journal of Community Psychology (10 cites), which is surprising given that some active American community psychologists are on the JEP board, and even less from Journal of Community Psychology (6 cites).

Table 3: Top citations 2009-2010 by authors' countries and country groups
Order Citations Author's Countries Group of Countries
1 28 UK English-speaking country
2 28 the Netherlands West Europe
3 22 Canada English-speaking country
4 20 UK English-speaking country
5 15 Poland Central-Eastern Europe
6 13 Canada + 17 other countries English-speaking country
7 13 the Netherlands Western Europe
8 13 Norway, Sweden Scandinavian countries
9 13 New Zealand English-speaking country
10 13 Canada, Germany, USA English-speaking country/West Europe
11 12 Mexico, Italy Latin America/Southern Europe
12 11 Canada, USA English-speaking country
13 10 USA English-speaking country
14 10 USA English-speaking country
15 10 USA, Australia English-speaking country
16 10 Norway, Germany English-speaking country/West Europe
17 8 Canada English-speaking country
18 8 Australia English-speaking country
19 7 Italy Southern Europe
20 7 USA English-speaking country
21 7 UK English-speaking country
22 7 New Zealand, Brazil English-speaking country/Latin America
23 7 Australia English-speaking country
24 7 UK English-speaking country
25 6 Canada English-speaking country
26 6 UK English-speaking country
27 6 Turkey Africa/Middle East
28 6 Taiwan Asia
29 6 UK, USA, Spain English-speaking country/Southern Europe
30 6 UK, the Netherlands English-speaking country/Western Europe
31 6 USA English-speaking country
32 6 Canada English-speaking country

In 2005, a group of community psychologists launched the American Psychological Association's Task Force on Urban Psychology (PDF, 676KB) with the aim to promote "a strengths-based ecological perspective that examines not only the frequently cited negative consequences of urban life, but also the rich assets found in urban life" pp. vi-vii. In the enclosed long list of references and recommended reading on the report, there is no reference to JEP publications or to environmental psychology in general. Likewise, urban-focused journals such as Journal of Urban Affairs (6 cites within 10 years) or Urban Studies (5 cites) do not seem to notice JEP publications. On the other hand, the high rank of Urban Forestry and Urban Greening in Table 4 seems to suggest that JEP is viewed by the academic world as dealing with "green" rather than "brown" (urban) psychology. Finally, the number of citations of the top 10 percent most highly cited JEP articles divided by research areas is presented in Table 5. Considering that the number of papers published in JEP in years 2002 to 2011 was 436, a total of 33.5 percent of published JEP papers (146) reached the top 10 percent citations typical of social science articles, with an average citation score of 24.36. According to the percentile table from Web of Science we used, the threshold for the averaged last ten years was 13.8 citations per a given social science publication. This means JEP publications tend to receive more citations than the average social science publications.

Conclusions

What do these bibliometric and scientometric indicators tell us? In short, the indicators provide evidence that the Journal of Environmental Psychology has made a significant and important scientific impact by being a recognized outlet for dissemination of research on person-environment interactions. Obviously, scientific journals are not automatically recognized as important outlets from the first issue. Such recognition is a somewhat slow process and results from the work of founding editors, subsequent editors, editorial board members, reviewers, and researchers who select and submit their studies for publication. This quantitative and qualitative review of the first three decades of JEP undeniably shows that the journal has been a story of success. The wider environmental psychology community should be proud of the journal's accomplishments, including members of APA Division 34 given the strong overlap between the present thematic focus of the journal and the mission of this division. Special commendation should be given to Robert Gifford, who has done a splendid job in further establishing JEP as a strong international scientific outlet in the area, with increasing impact factor in recent years.

Table 4: Journals citing the top 10 Percent JEP publications at least 15 times
Journal Name Number of Citations
to JEP
Impact Factor 2011
2 year / 5 year
Journal of Environmental Psychology 590 2.400/2.930
Environment and Behavior 177 1.275/2.173
Landscape and Urban Planning 97 2.173/3.107
Energy Policy 70 2.723/3.193
Health and Place 55 2.669
Journal of Sustainable Tourism 47 1.929
Environmental Education Research 46 0.847
Urban Forestry and Urban Greening 43 1.270
Society and Natural Resources 38 1.090/1.544
Journal of Applied Social Psychology 32 0.633/1.133
Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews—Climate Change 30 N/A
Landscape Research 29 0.677/1.075
Transportation Research Part F—Traffic Psychology and Behaviour 28 1.989/2.197
American Psychologist 26 6.869/8.991
Ecological Economics 24 2.713/3.267
Journal of Environmental Management 24 N/A
Land Use Policy 21 2.292/2.561
Leisure Sciences 21 1.066/1.612
International Journal of Consumer Studies 20 0.661
Environmental Management 19 N/A
Journal of Community and Applied Social Psychology 19 1.247/1.450
Journal of Social Issues 18 1.963/3.889
HortTechnology 16 N/A
Journal of Environmental Planning and Management 16 1.107
Journal of Leisure Research 16 0.508/1.211
Risk Analysis 16 2.366/2.574
Social Science and Medicine 16 2.699/3.479
British Journal Of Social Psychology 15 1.765/2.430
Global Environmental Change 15 N/A
Journal of Environmental Education 15 0.655
Transportation Research Part A—Policy and Practice 15 2.353/2.705

Our main goal with this review was to report descriptive indicators and salute JEP for its success. The indicators and discussion presented here suggest areas for future consideration (e.g., dominance of certain group of countries given the international feature of the journal), but we refrain in making recommendations and discussing it further due to the celebratory focus of our piece. Moreover, the current focus of JEP publications may change in the future as person-environment interactions comprise a broad area which may be viewed from many perspectives and disciplines. Many topics that were popular in the 1980s, such as personal space research, no long figure in recent publications. While we present three topics as the differentia specifica of the field based on three decades of publications in JEP, it is not possible to forecast what will be the most popular research area in the next 30 years.

Table 5: Citations of the top 10 percent JEP publications divided into thematic groups
Research Area Number of Papers
Within the Top 10 Percent
Number of Citations
to the Papers
Average Number of
Citations per Paper
Environmental behaviors / environmental attitudes 49 1291 26.35
Nature/restoration/concept of etc. 29 1014 34.96
Place attachment/place identity 30 613 20.43
Other 38 639 16.81
Overall 146 3557 24.36

References

Bamberg, S., & Mӧser, G. (2007). Twenty years after Hines, Hungerford, and Tomera: A new meta-analysis of psychosocial determinants of pro-environmental behaviour. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 27, 14-25.

Canter, D.V., Craik, K.H., & Griffiths, I. (1982). Editorial. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 2, 1-2.

Carter, F.W., & Turnock, D. (1993). Environmental problems in Eastern Europe. London: Routledge.

Giuliani, M. V., & Scopelliti, M. (2009). Empirical research in environmental psychology: Past, present, and future. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 29, 375-386.

Kaplan, S. (1995). The restorative benefits of nature—Toward an integrative framework. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 15, 169-182.

Milfont, T.L., & Page, E. (in press). A bibliometric review of the first thirty years of the Journal of Environmental Psychology. Psyecology.

Proshansky, H.M., Fabian, A.K., & Kaminoff, R. (1983). Place-identity: Physical world socialization of the self. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 3, 57-83.

Ulrich, R.S., & Simons, R.F. (1991). Stress recovery during exposure to natural and urban environments. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 11, 201-230.