Certain implications of perceptual psychology for behavioral design
Worrell, Joe David
Master of Architecture
THESIS: That perceptual psychology can aid the architect in translating human behavior, that attempts to incorporate psychology into architecture have largely failed because of inadequate analysis and faulty synthesis of the science's capabilities, and that the proposed incorporation , therefore, should be fully investigated. ARGUMENT: First, psychology is divided into two sections: a) the aggregate knowledge it has accumulated, and b) its techniques and methodology. Five theories are then analyzed under the heading of "Aggregate Knowledge," and grouped as: The historical theories of behaviorism, Gestalt theory, and psychophysics. -- The position of James J. Gibson. -- Cognitive theory. Next, four methodologies are analyzed under the heading "Methods," and grouped as: The expermental methods. -- The alternative methods of the case-history, testing, ex-post-facto procedures, and systematic observation. Last, synthesis is accomplished by means of the preceeding overview. DISCUSSION: The aggregate knowledge of psychology cannot be directly incorporated into the body of knowledge of architecture, but it can yield hypotheses and insights that provide background and it can structure inquiry by its methodology. Theory substantiates that perception is an active process, and that perception adapts to environmental change; therefore, the behavior that results from perception is not a constant. Methodology can delineate macro-behavioral systems, and the architect can use this knowledge to construct the environment necessary to accommodate these systems. The architect may also use this knowledge to prevent the designing of environments detrimental to society. Accommodation of micro-behavioral systems may be accomplished by expanding environmental choice and inhabitant manipulation of the environment. Finally, the effective use of psychology - both its theories and its techniques - is dependent upon the development of a dialogue between the disciplines and the emergence of a middleman acquainted with both.