Architecture, urbanism, design and behavior: a brief review

In designing and constructing environments in which people live and work, architects and planners are necessarily involved
in influencing human behavior. While Summer (1969, p.3) asserted that the architect “in his training and practice, learns to
look at buildings without people in them,” it is clear that from, for example, Picture5

there has been a long-standing thread of recognition that the way people live their lives is directly linked to the designed environments in
which they live. Whether the explicit intention to influence behavior drives the design process—architectural determinism (Broadly,
1966: see future blog post ‘POSIWID and determinism’)—or whether the behavior consequences of design decisions are only revealed and
considered as part of a post-occupancy evaluation (e.g. Zeisel, 2006) or by social scientists or psychologists studying the impact of
a development, there are links between the design of the built environment and our behavior, both individually and socially.
Behaviorism as a psychological approach is based on empirical observation of human (and animal) behavior—stimuli in the environment,
and the behavioral responses which follow—and attempts in turn to apply stimuli to provoke desired responses. John B. Watson (1913, p.158),
in laying out the behaviorist viewpoint, reacted against the then-current focus by Freud and others on unobservable concepts such as the
processes of the mind: “Psychology as the behaviorist views it… [has as its] theoretical goal…the prediction and control of behavior.
Introspection forms no essential part of its methods, nor is the scientific value of its data dependent upon the readiness with which they
lend themselves to interpretation in terms of consciousness”.


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