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Psy 460 - Human Response to Physical Structure

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Human Response to Physical Structure

March 7, 2011

PSY 460 Environmental Psychology

Professor Gary Mayhew

Human Response to Physical Structure

Architecture influences people in different ways based on design, location, and atmosphere. The human response to architecture varies in degrees from small to large. A playground may have children behaving as if they were monkeys, and a local shopping mall may have people behaving like children in the parking lot over spaces. No two people will respond to a specific architectural design the same.

Physical Structures effect on Human Behavior

Many people fail to realize the effect different architectural structures have on others. Depending on the design and purpose of the structure people react differently to it (O'Brien, 2008). For instance, a detour on a person's daily routine because of road construction this may affect some people by arriving late to work. Whereas other people it may not affect them in any way other than delaying their social schedules.

Other ways physical structures affect human behavior is by mandating specific routes because of buildings and the roads going around them. People fail to realize they are only bigger mice in a maze. People travel in preselected routes designed for better efficiency, or so it seems by engineers and scientists. Even in public parks there is a specific design that only allows specific play in specific areas because of playground structures.

The effect on human behavior can range from small to extreme (O'Brien, 2008). An example of a small effect is taking a detour while traveling and arriving late to appointments. This type of situation could cause anger or anxiety. In addition, some people do not react to detours as aggressively as others, so they may not have a reaction at all (O'Brien, 2008). An example of an extreme affect is completely blocking a person's route to him or her arriving to his or her destination. This could cause anger, anxiety, or worse.

Architectural control of Behavior

Human behavior is influenced by a vast amount of issues. Architecture is an influence on behavioral control most commonly used. Architecture consists of designing homes, businesses, roads, and almost anything that has a design to it (Yancey, 1972). The simplest form of architectural control is used by parents to control small children. For example, the pack and play for young children. This is a small area that parents can put infants to toddler age children where they are only allowed to interact with the toys inside the pack and play. Other examples would be a privacy fence around a yard, child gates in doorways, and the walls to homes or buildings. These examples provide separation for what most believe is protection from outside influences. These barriers provide much more than protection, they provide isolation (Yancey, 1972).

Recent studies have shown how separation can be both beneficial, and harmful to the development of behavior (Yancey, 1972). On the side of benefiting behavior structured or defined areas benefits the understanding of rules and regulations. Architecture aids in this by allowing specific designs to perform as these boundaries. On the side of harming the development of behavior, specific architecture could enhance the desire for aggressive behaviors. An example of this type of architecture is martial arts gyms, or fight clubs.

Other aspects of architecture controlling behavior by the different designs and colors include neutral designs with a splash of art, earth tone colored paints, open floor plans, office cubicles, or doors on offices (Yancey, 1972). Each of these scenarios plays a role in behavior. Neutral designs are used in generic rental buildings to allow people who rent or buy the buildings to design to suit their own tastes. Earth tone colors are presently the way many people are decorating because they remind others of different natural areas, such as mountains, grass, or water. Office cubicles tend to accomplish the separation of many people in a small environment to allow them to work more efficiently. However, sometimes this type of separation causes more stress on an individual. The open floor plan of a home or office is to allow free flow from one room to another to make a person feel as though he or she is "outside" with endless room. Doors are often regarded as boundary areas. The nice aspect about doors is that when one wants to be alone he or she needs only to close the door, but if he or she wants company he or she needs only to leave the door open.

Environmental Psychological Implications of Commercial Designs

Looking at how many of the large corporations build their buildings most are either high rise buildings or look like a home, depending on the type of business and the number of employees (Landy, Davis, Graddick, Gutek, Jackson, Kahn, &Schleifer, 1992). Bank of America, for example,

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