Essay: Behavioral Sciences and Architectural Theory

Pages: 3 (923 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 3  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Architecture  ·  Buy This Paper

¶ … Behavioral Sciences and Architectural Theory

In this chapter, the author discusses the behavioral sciences and their relationship to architecture and design. The various behavioral sciences are discussed. The author states that "this book focuses on the subject of the above that is concerned with the nature of human habitats and the relationship between the physical structure of the world and human activities and values" (Lang, 1987). The combination of these two fields of study has many names: M-ER (man-environment relations), environmental sociology, human ecology, and the person-environment theory (term used here in this book). It is important to note that psychology has generally been concerned with the environment on a molecular level which is of no use in design. However, Gestalt psychology does focus on it and has thus been latched onto by many architects and designers (for better or worse). Sociology has spent a great deal of time in consideration of group processes and the environment. However, anthropology has spent considerable time on the settings of primitive societies and is now expanding that area to include more modern societies.

Behavioral Sciences: Include anthropology, sociology and, psychology. Economics and political science are sometimes included. These, 'fields of study are dedicated to understanding human activities, attitudes, and values' (Lang, 1987).

The concerns of the behavioral sciences: There is a "utility gap" between the behavioral sciences and environmental design (Lang, 1987). This is because the behavioral sciences follow the scientific method as closely as possible and are focused on facts. They are focused on facts to achieve their goal of building positive theory. It allows them to predict patterns of activities and values. If a behavioral scientist then uses the information and states a preference for an outcome, he/she is no longer a scientist. The problem is that empirical data does not guide practice. Only Theory can guide practice and this needs to be addressed to close the "utility gap" (Lang, 1987).

The concerns of design: To understand the relationship between the two areas, one needs to consider the concerns of designers. There are multiple descriptions given historically, but for the purposes of this book, the author has taken a normative philosophy about which a designer should be concerned.. He states that the model used here is from the humanist psychologist Abraham Maslow (1954) (Lang, 1987).. It states, "The built environment, if properly configured, can meet aspects of human needs for survival, security, affiliation, esteem, learning, and aesthetics" (Lang, 1987).

The nature of design problems: The nature of the design problem is that it is not usually well defined or articulated. However, the designer should strive to create an environment that meets all the needs of all the people utilizing that environment. The behavioral sciences are helping to achieve that end.… [END OF PREVIEW]

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