Generating Behavioral Data for the Design Process

  • Andrew Baum
  • Glenn E. Davis
  • Stuart Valins


When behavioral scientists seek to study architectural impact or become involved in the design process, they are often unfamiliar with architectural methods and with many of the problems faced by designers. Architects rely upon scientific theories, methods, and data to construct stable physical structures and upon past experience when considering aesthetic components of design, but they typically use less systematic assessments of user perceptions and needs. User populations may not be specified in great detail when designs are conceived, and survey- based assessment of those populations that are known may not allow identification of design variables that cannot be easily articulated. The designer is required to approximate the needs and expectations of people with whom contact is unlikely and must translate clients’ estimates of needs and spatial requirements into minimally expensive, maximally effective environments. The number of decisions that must be made, combined with the pressures of limited resources, nonspecific client needs, and estimates of space use, and a lack of data about the effects of specific design variables or configurations of variables have led to continued reliance on intuitive judgments of behavioral impact. The results of these decisions may be positive, but the legacy of Pruitt-Igoe (e.g., Yancey, 1972) serves to remind us of the unexpected results of such decisions. Clearly, a thorough and systematic consideration of the social and psychological effects of various design features must precede the development of future environments.


Design Variable Social Contact Sika Deer Residential Environment Residential Group 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1979

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andrew Baum
    • 1
  • Glenn E. Davis
    • 2
  • Stuart Valins
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Medical PsychologyUniformed Services University, School of MedicineBethesdaUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyWashington CollegeChestertownUSA
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyState University of New YorkStony BrookUSA

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