James J. Gibson and Eleanor J. Gibson are the founding fathers of the ecological approach to psychology, which originally represented a new perspective on perception and its relationship to action. Ecological psychology can be defined as a subfield of psychology that studies the interactions and transactions occurring between people and their surroundings.
According to this theoretical approach, the environment highly influences how people feel, think and behave. Therefore, to understand an individual’s perception, cognition, and behavior, one must first identify and understand the social and physical characteristics of the environment in which he is inserted. For example: a man that works at an office is struggling to do a good job. Following an environmental approach, to understand this man’s difficulties we would have to analyze the office characteristics, including the existence of stressor elements in the office (like noise or too many people working together), the physical characteristics of the space, and the interactions established with the people that are part of this work setting.