thelibrarybook
the library bookA guide to creating The People’s University through environmental psychology
contentsThe People’s University                              1A Guide to This Book                                 3Enviro...
the people’s universityPublic libraries were once thought of as “The People’s University.” A place where onecould experien...
a guide to this book    This book contains many excerpts from other books. In order to denote what informa-    tion is com...
environmental psychology    OVERVIEW    Consider your living room as an environment. What are some of the elements or    v...
compare a living room with a vest-pocket park and a classroom as whole environ-             confusion, and terror of comba...
evening paper, but not for doing your income tax. If you try to do your income tax           changing activity patterns. T...
of how we think we should behave. This is not to say that we cannot exercise fairly      I will not stress at this point t...
PRIVACY     Previously, privacy was viewed as an excluding process—as “being alone” or “get-     ting away” from others. P...
which the same space is changed to reflect different social functions. In many Japa-       DEFINING PERSONAL SPACE nese ho...
notion of personal distance in animals.) Social distance, which extends from four to              The most current models ...
individual as he or she changes location. Territory, in contrast, is a visible area that has a stationary location. For ex...
Carlson and M. A. Price (1966) used Kuethe’s (1962) original set of human and              More recent evidence, however, ...
PSYCHOLOGICAL FUNCTIONS OF PERSONAL SPACE                                                                                 ...
CHARACTERISTICS OF THE INVADER                                                             field experiment at a water fou...
space of a high-status group than of a low-status group, as reflected in the group’s age and manner of dress. A further st...
ENVIRONMENT AND BEHAVIOR AS A COMPLEX SYSTEM     Various mechanisms for the regulation of privacy operate as a coherent sy...
cannot report accurately what they do or how they behave. It may be necessary to spend time watching them function in thei...
from Turnbull ( 1972), who studied the impact of governmental relocation of the Ik     ball going down the alley. Tall men...
libraries     Libraries have an ancient, honorable history. More than five thousand years ago, the     Sumerians stored cl...
school, local community, and some undergraduate libraries need all the environmental          search through a complex cat...
Recent experiments in certain circulating libraries also indicate that the common            rooms, it is convenient to be...
The Library Book - A Guide to Creating The Peoples' University Through Environmental Psychology
The Library Book - A Guide to Creating The Peoples' University Through Environmental Psychology
The Library Book - A Guide to Creating The Peoples' University Through Environmental Psychology
The Library Book - A Guide to Creating The Peoples' University Through Environmental Psychology
The Library Book - A Guide to Creating The Peoples' University Through Environmental Psychology
The Library Book - A Guide to Creating The Peoples' University Through Environmental Psychology
The Library Book - A Guide to Creating The Peoples' University Through Environmental Psychology
The Library Book - A Guide to Creating The Peoples' University Through Environmental Psychology
The Library Book - A Guide to Creating The Peoples' University Through Environmental Psychology
The Library Book - A Guide to Creating The Peoples' University Through Environmental Psychology
The Library Book - A Guide to Creating The Peoples' University Through Environmental Psychology
The Library Book - A Guide to Creating The Peoples' University Through Environmental Psychology
The Library Book - A Guide to Creating The Peoples' University Through Environmental Psychology
The Library Book - A Guide to Creating The Peoples' University Through Environmental Psychology
The Library Book - A Guide to Creating The Peoples' University Through Environmental Psychology
The Library Book - A Guide to Creating The Peoples' University Through Environmental Psychology
The Library Book - A Guide to Creating The Peoples' University Through Environmental Psychology
The Library Book - A Guide to Creating The Peoples' University Through Environmental Psychology
The Library Book - A Guide to Creating The Peoples' University Through Environmental Psychology
The Library Book - A Guide to Creating The Peoples' University Through Environmental Psychology
The Library Book - A Guide to Creating The Peoples' University Through Environmental Psychology
The Library Book - A Guide to Creating The Peoples' University Through Environmental Psychology
The Library Book - A Guide to Creating The Peoples' University Through Environmental Psychology
The Library Book - A Guide to Creating The Peoples' University Through Environmental Psychology
The Library Book - A Guide to Creating The Peoples' University Through Environmental Psychology
The Library Book - A Guide to Creating The Peoples' University Through Environmental Psychology
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The Library Book - A Guide to Creating The Peoples' University Through Environmental Psychology

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Pursuing an interest in the societal and institutional role of libraries, I conducted a study of the library at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design.

Public libraries were once thought of as "The People's University." A place where one could experience self-directed learning, with access to all the information necessary to become a well-rounded, knowledgeable citizen of the world. Over time, the use of libraries has shifted. In order for libraries to serve today's citizens, it must be a center that combines many types of spaces — serving a variety of functions and including varying levels of social engagement. I used this lens to analyze the MCAD library. .

I created a resource booklet that combined excerpts of existing writings on environmental psychology, spatial behavior, and workplace design, along with my own research and writings — covering space usage in libraries and how it effects and is affected by human privacy behaviors. I analyzed material placement, arrangement of workspaces, lighting, and usage statistics to inform my work.

As part of my research I conducted a survey of MCAD library staff members. In their responses, they without prompt, elaborated on the idea of the library's shift from an education center to an entertainment center. When asked about the true purpose of a library, one staff member said it was to "allow users access to materials that educate, enrich, and inspire." But when asked what students spend the most time doing in the library, the answer was that students are "always at the computers" and that "many movies get checked out." One staff member defined his role as helping patrons find information, but when asked what students spend time working on, he replied 1) Working on the lab computers or laptops, 2) Group/individual study, and 3) reading periodicals. This calls for a shift, not only in the role of public and institutional libraries today, but in the role played by staff.


This book is better read in-person, but you can download a PDF of it here. Note that this is a 100-page book containing many long excerpts from existing materials as well as my own writing. See page 89 for credits.

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The Library Book - A Guide to Creating The Peoples' University Through Environmental Psychology

  1. 1. thelibrarybook
  2. 2. the library bookA guide to creating The People’s University through environmental psychology
  3. 3. contentsThe People’s University 1A Guide to This Book 3Environmental Psychology overview 5 privacy 13 defining personal space, invaders 15 environment and behavior as a complex system 29Libraries overview 35 students in the library 47The MCAD Library 61Library Staff Questionnaire 71Bibliography and Credits 89
  4. 4. the people’s universityPublic libraries were once thought of as “The People’s University.” A place where onecould experience self-directed learning, with access to all the information one wouldneed to become a well-rounded, knowledgeable citizen of the world. Over time, the useof the library has shifted from an education center to an entertainment center. Whereonce were tomes of tiny print are now glossy gossip rags. But is this so wrong? Tothose who feel that the library should be strictly educational, yes. But could instancesof entertainment actually improve the quality of a person’s learning experience? AsAlbert Mehrabian states in Public Places and Private Spaces: “…concentrated reading leads to fatigue, which is a low arousal and unpleasant state. Since performance—ability to concentrate and recollect what is read—deteriorates with fatigue, it is important that libraries provide opportunities for periodic relief from demanding work. When a library provides opportunities for any of these alternatives, the users have the advantage of taking breaks without having to check out and can conve- niently maintain an optimum level of arousal and pleasure for the work they are doing.”I propose a compromise. Let’s create an environment that is conducive to pleasantlearning experiences. A center that combines many types of spaces, giving the studentan opportunity to choose their level of social engagement, dependent on their own styleof learning. For this we must consider some concepts of environmental psychology,which I will explore through excerpts from—and my own additions to—several texts. 1
  5. 5. a guide to this book This book contains many excerpts from other books. In order to denote what informa- tion is coming from what text, please refer to the check-out card in the back of this book. The card contains a corresponding number for each title. For quick referencing, use the check-out card as a bookmark! Within the book, excerpts will be identified as follows: “…concentrated reading leads to fatigue, which is a low arousal and unpleasant state. Since performance—ability to concentrate and recollect what is read—deteriorates with fatigue, it is important that libraries provide opportunities for periodic relief from demanding work. When a library provides opportunities for any of these alternatives, the users have the advantage of taking breaks without having to check out and can conve- niently maintain an optimum level of arousal and pleasure for the work they are doing.” I will also make my own additions to the excerpts in this book. When my own words are displayed, they will be shown in brown, as follows: “…concentrated reading leads to fatigue, which is a low arousal and unpleasant state. Since performance—ability to concentrate and recollect what is read—deteriorates with fatigue, it is important that libraries provide opportunities for periodic relief from demanding work. When a library provides opportunities for any of these alternatives, the users have the advantage of taking breaks without having to check out and can conve- niently maintain an optimum level of arousal and pleasure for the work they are doing.”2 3
  6. 6. environmental psychology OVERVIEW Consider your living room as an environment. What are some of the elements or variables that determine what kind of room it is? There is furniture of varying styles, colors, and degrees of comfort; all of it can be arranged in many formal or informal ways. There is the color scheme, which can range from dim to very bright and highly saturated. There might be many plants, a profusion of mirrors and paintings, or none at all. There may be a piano, a stereo, or a TV, and any of these could be in use or not. The temperature of this room could be anything from freezing to broiling. The windows might be open, in which case there mayor may not he sunlight, a breeze, odors, or traffic noise entering the room. The main view might be the Pacific Ocean, an airshaft, a garden, or a freeway. There might be no one in this room, a few people quietly conversing, or a large party going on. How can we describe such a room? One way to do it would be to make an -im- mensely long and detailed catalogue of every single item in the room and its spatial relationship to every other item, and then add variables like brightness, humidity, noise level, temperature, odor, and so on. Assuming that this list could be an exhaustive one~ it could only be accurate for a given moment in time. The room could be rear- ranged, tidied up, or a new chair added, and its whole complexion would change. Add a few people, turn on or turn off a few lights, and- the catalogue would have to be revised. If one were to try to describe many places in this way, the cataloguing would amount to a labor worthy of Hercules and Sisyphus combined. But describing this living room, with its immense number of changing features and stimuli, is precisely the sort of task environmental psychologists undertake. And the fact that they can do it-if need be in one word-means that environmental psycholo- gists are doing something that no other kind of psychologist does, namely, to describe environments as wholes. This is what distinguishes environmental psychology from the other branches of psychology, The various psychological disciplines allow one to predict what effect a single variable or cluster of like variables will have on a particular kind of behavior- fantasy, memory, learning, complex problem-solving, or socializing. These disciplines do not however try to predict the collective effect of all the stimuli in a room upon different people’s feelings and behavior. More importantly, they are not equipped to4 5
  7. 7. compare a living room with a vest-pocket park and a classroom as whole environ- confusion, and terror of combat. He is physically moving away from an intolerablements; and they don’t predict which people will find these different environments environment and only the application of overwhelming force could prevent him frommost suitable for studying French, reading a science fiction novel, or taking a nap. doing so.Aside from the necessity for a taxonomy of places, environmental psychologists But approach and avoidance mean more than just physically moving toward or awayrequire a corresponding taxonomy of people. The same environment affects differ- from an environment. These terms are also used to characterize behavior in environ-ent people in different ways. Some of the reasons for this are the differences in the ments from which a person cannot physically remove himself. If, for example, youphysiological makeup of individuals; in attitudes toward, and past experiences with, place a person all by himself in an unfamiliar environment, he mayor may not explorevarious places; in familiarity and sophistication in dealing with places; and in the ways it-look around eagerly, stroll about, pick up objects and examine them, and in generalpeople cognitively process the information they receive from their surroundings. This try to become intimate with the place. Exploration is a form of approach behavior,is how a very posh restaurant may intimidate some people, be relaxing to others, or and the degree to which a person or laboratory animal explores a new environmenteven cause boorishness in a few. Clearly, environmental psychologists have been can be measured quantitatively. Lack of exploration-as when a person walks into achallenged to develop a succinct, comprehensive method to describe differences in waiting room in an office building, hospital, or bus station and immediately takes aindividuals’ reactions to places, and our approach will include some of the highlights seat and stares up at the wall, pulls ·out a book from his briefcase, or goes to sleep-of these differences. is a form of avoidance behavior, even though the person may have chosen to enter the environment and to remain in it.With their tools, environmental psychologists can tell you, for example, whetherpeople who gather to socialize in a given living room will tend to be subdued, stiff, Another measure of the degree to which one approaches or avoids an environmentnoncommital, or anxious to leave, or whether they will tend to be outgoing, friendly, is affiliation, or one’s reaction to other people in the environment. Approach behaviorrelaxed, or eager to remain and have a good time. They can make fairly accurate or positive affiliation means that a person attempts to enter into communication withpredictions not only about the group as a whole but also about the individuals who others by establishing eye contact, smiling, nodding, greeting, helping someonecomprise it. They can predict whether a particular person, depending on the kind with a package, or starting a conversation. Avoidance behavior or negative affiliationof day he’s had, will become either extremely nervous or bored in this room, or will is just the opposite: others are ignored, eye contact is avoided, physical distancetry to make the room a more suitable environment by smoking heavily, drinking too from people is increased, the body is turned away from them, and conversationalmuch, moving around a lot, walking to a less crowded part of the room, starting an attempts are rebuffed.argument, or suggesting a game of strip poker. Performance, or how well one does a particular task, is also a measure of approachEnvironmental psychologists can make such evaluations and predictions because or avoidance. Let’s say you have someone do one of those jobs experimental psy-they’ve developed a system for doing 50 based on massive amounts of data. This chologists make up: judging the duration of a sound signal, fitting blocks together,system, like a good blackjack system, is built not only upon a huge number of solving abstract puzzles, or remembering a list of nonsense syllables. Suppose hisobservations but also upon a few simple do-or-don’t rules, a handful of crucial as- score is average. If you then ask him to do a similar task but change the environmentsumptions, and a few handy or inspired generalizations. so that he scores way above average, this means you have managed to give that environment an improved approach aspect, at least in relation to the task. Conversely,One of the main generalizations is this: people’s reactions to all environments fall into if you change the environment so that he scores considerably below average, thenone of two main categories, approach or avoidance. These categories are broad, you have given the environment an avoidance aspect that expresses itself as dete-of course, and include many different kinds of behavior. An extreme example of ap- riorated performance.proach might be the case of a man, who has accidentally broken his leg in a hikingexpedition, trying to make his way back to the nearest town. He is physically moving What is an optimum environment for the performance of one task or activity may oftoward the town and has in fact summoned up his last reserves of strength to do course be all wrong for another. A family room with the TV going and the kids playing50. An example of extreme avoidance would be the infantryman fleeing the noise, electronic football may be a suitable environment for rug hooking or scanning the6 7
  8. 8. evening paper, but not for doing your income tax. If you try to do your income tax changing activity patterns. That is, some of the environmental design failures are duethere, the room will take on a pronounced avoidance aspect, even though it might to inappropriate adherence to outmoded standards. But, numerous new settingsnormally be one in which you take great pleasure. In order to reduce avoidance are created every day by architects and interior designers-professionals who canbehavior-making errors in your return or taking twice as long to do it-you’d probably transcend the constraints of accepted tradition. Why don’t such innovations suc-have to change the family room environment by reducing the number and intensity ceed as often as we would like them to? One reason is that the professionals whoof the stimuli in it At the very least, the TV would get shut off, the electronic football are even today engaged in the design’ of our working, living, and recreational spacesmatch would get a change of venue, and sooner or later everybody else would be operate artistically and intuitively, for the most part, rather than through reliance onexpelled. wen-established psychological realities. An architect may intuitively yet erroneously select a house design which feels just right to him, but which may hardly be appropri-A further generalization about approach or avoidance is that approach behavior, or ate for his client who has a different personality or life style. It is not surprising thatan environment that causes approach, is usually a positive or desired sort of thing, most of the approaches to design which have achieved fame and influence followhaving to do with movement toward, exploration, friendliness, improved performance, the one-basic-design-for-all formula. Even though such design principles may beand voiced preference or liking. Conversely, avoidance behavior or an avoidance- suited for some people’s personality dispositions or life styles, as we shall see, theycausing environment is generally negative, having to do with movement away from, can hardly be suited to all.withdrawal, interpersonal coldness, defective performance, and voiced dislike. The many failures in environmental design-whether created by the professional ar-There are times of course when we want to produce avoidance behavior and chitect or designer or in most cases intuitively selected by the individual himself-candeliberately use an environment in such a way as to make someone uneasy or he attributed to simplistic and all-encompassing notions and traditions which failuncomfortable. We sometimes receive guests we don’t really want to entertain in to draw upon psychological facts to fit persons, their personalities, and their manya room that is “cold,” make them sit in the least comfortable chairs, or get rid of diverse daily activities, to places. Once a person has inadvertently committed himselfa houseguest who abhors untidiness by letting the house get messy. But most of to a partially effective living or working space, economic considerations make drasticthe time people create avoidance-causing environments through inadvertence and change difficult. What’s more, lacking concrete knowledge of improvements whichignorance: the employer who wants to improve productivity and therefore puts his could result from a more appropriate environment, the individual is hesitant to risk ad-foot down about the coffee machine, throws the office into an uproar, and costs ditional expense and effort for elusive gains. And this is why, as in many other realmshimself a hundred manhours; the host who wants to give a good party but finds that of life, people continue to live with what is only partially satisfactory, discouraged byhalf his guests leave after an’ hour; the teacher who wants her students to “get it” the cost, effort, and the risks of drastic experimentation with change.but finds that class performance gets worse as the year progresses; the husbandor wife who, after looking forward all day to an enjoyable evening, arrives home to How, then, can one approach the problem of systematic and efficient design orbitchiness or weariness. It is fair to say that most people most of the time want to selection of daily environments? You’ll recall I said that the system environmentalcreate environments that cause approach behavior but just don’t always know how psychologists have developed contains a number of crucial assumptions. The suc-to go about it. cessful blackjack player, for example, assumes that everybody is operating under the same rules or statistics as himself-he assumes that the house won’t cheat. En-What are some of the factors that lead people to commit themselves inadvertently vironmental psychologists make several far-reaching assumptions too.to the wrong environments? Since we have been lacking an explicit and commonlyshared discipline of environmental psychology, people rely on accepted and tradi- Perhaps the most controversial of these assumptions has to do with the wellspringstional standards for the designs of their homes, schools, offices, factories, or places of human behavior. Put bluntly, it is assumed that people’s feelings or emotions areof recreation. For example, many living rooms are still furnished much like front parlors what ultimately determine what they do and how they do it. It is also assumed thator formal sitting rooms, even though few people observe or want the formal “calling” environments can cause in us feelings of anger, fear, boredom, pleasure, or whatever,behavior this design elicits. Such traditional standards may have been suited to the and do so regardless of how we think we should feel in such environments; andtimes when they were devised, but may be inappropriate for current life styles and furthermore, that these feelings will cause us to behave in certain ways, regardless8 9
  9. 9. of how we think we should behave. This is not to say that we cannot exercise fairly I will not stress at this point the effect that people do and can have upon their en- substantial control over our public behavior. We can, for example, refrain from overt vironments, because most of this book will be devoted to that subject. But I don’t aggression if we are angered. But we cannot usually will our anger to go away, and want to leave the impression that the system I’m beginning to sketch presupposes a we cannot entirely mask the countless physiological and behavioral symptoms of passive or purely reactive role for human beings. Environmental psychologists work anger-everything from increased blood pressure to the tiny verbal and nonverbal sig- with the converse assumption. Human beings have a gift amounting to genius for nals which invariably accompany a state of anger. Even if one’s anger is successfully deliberately altering their environments, and to deny or minimize this gift is to be masked from the untrained or unobservant, there are still gross behavioral differences ignorant. But this human genius can be more or less informed, more or less disci- lurking in the wings. A person who is masking his anger or even denying to himself plined, more or less effective in achieving its goals. And this is what environmental that he is angry will not behave in ways that are consistent with feelings of pleasure psychology is all about: giving people informed, disciplined, and effective means of and relaxation. He will not joke and smile, or touch us in an affectionate way. coping with what surrounds them. The second big assumption is that feelings are not mysterious and fuzzy things that must by their very nature elude precise description and quantification. In some cul- tures, emotions have been considered things that women primarily know about, like preserving raspberries. As a consequence, emotions have sometimes been contrast- ed with the more “masculine” cognitive abilities or structures like logic, philosophy, analytical methods, mathematical languages, or science. As a result, people have sometimes believed or asserted that feelings are somehow not a fit or manageable subject for scientific examination. But anything that can be manipulated in a fine- tuned way can be described and measured in’ the same way. If emotions could not be manipulated with some exactitude, our human culture would be entirely devoid of song, poetry, comedy, tragedy, or dance, to say nothing of successful politicians, million-dollar-club salesmen, or great utterances and deeds of profoundly emotional nature-from Leonidas at Thermopylae to the Churchill war speeches to the last Medal- of-Honor performance in Vietnam. For the moment, then, let me just put the following assumption up front where it can be seen: human emotions are amenable to precise description, quantitative mea- surement, and statistical analysis. Environmental psychologists working under this assumption have provided a sound descriptive framework for emotions, a framework which will be discussed in some detail in chapter three. This descriptive framework forms one of the crucial elements of the system that has been developed in order to evaluate whole environments and people’s reactions to them. “ The general framework is organized something like this. A particular environment causes certain emotional reactions in a person. These reactions in turn cause the person to approach or avoid the environment to a greater or lesser degree. By ap- proaching or avoiding the environment in whatever degree, the person introduces some sort of change in it.10 11
  10. 10. PRIVACY Previously, privacy was viewed as an excluding process—as “being alone” or “get- ting away” from others. Practitioners often translate the traditional “keep-out” idea of privacy into the design of solitude areas in homes and other places. From the perspective of this book, privacy is better approached as a changing self/other boundary-regulation process in which a person or a group sometimes wants to be separated from others and sometimes wants to be in contact with others. Thus I have portrayed privacy as a dialectic process, in which forces to be with others and forces to be away from others are both present, with one force dominating at one time and the other being stronger at another time. As a corollary, being alone too often or for too long a period of time (isolation) and being with others too much for too long (crowding) are both undesirable states. To translate this viewpoint into practical environmental designs is not easy. However, a general principle is that we should attempt to design responsive environments, which permit easy alternation between a state of separateness and a state of to- getherness. If privacy has a shifting dialectic quality, then, ideally, we should offer people environments that can be responsive to their shifting desires for contact or absence of contact with others. Environments that emphasize only either very little interaction or a great deal of interaction are, to my way of thinking, too static and will not be responsive to changing privacy needs. Thus, environmental designers should try to create environments that permit different degrees of control over contact with others. Such a philosophy is already used to some extent. For example, the door is a simple example of an environment-design feature that is responsive and that permits regulation of social interaction. Opening it signifies a desire for social interaction, and closing it represents an impermeable self/other boundary. On the other hand, much environmental design does not have the flexible capability to meet changing privacy needs. The “family room” in suburban American homes seems to be primarily a place for social interaction. It is hard to imagine someone using a family room as a place to be alone. In the American home, the den, the bedroom, and the bathroom are typically places to be alone and away from others. In fact, some people use the bathroom to read or think, since it is one of the few places in the home where people can be sure of maximum privacy. We seem to have single-minded functions—low or high interaction but not both. To achieve different privacy states requires, therefore, that we literally “go” to a different place. Why not think about having the same place serve different functions and have it change with our needs, rather than our changing needs requiring us to shift our location? This approach is used in certain other cultures—for example, by the Japanese. The interiors of their homes are flexible environments in12 13
  11. 11. which the same space is changed to reflect different social functions. In many Japa- DEFINING PERSONAL SPACE nese homes, walls can be moved in or out of place; the same area may be used for PROXEMICS eating, sleeping, and socializing at different times. The logic of our framework calls Today’s interest in the ways people use space in interpersonal relationships is based for more use of changeable environments so as to permit a greater responsiveness on the ground-breaking observations and speculation of Edward Hall an anthropolo- to changing needs for privacy. gist. In 1966 Hall published The Hidden Dimension, a book that summarized and extended his earlier work in this area (Hall, 1955, 1959, 1960, 1963a, 1963b). He coined the term proxemics to define the scientific study of space as a medium of interpersonal communication. Hall’s observations were based on earlier work in the field of ethology, a branch of bi- ology that studies the adaptive behavior of animals. Heini Hediger (1950, 1955,1961), Privacy has a variety of meanings in everyday speech, in the law and politics, and in an animal psychologist in Switzerland, had identified a series of spatial zones sur- behavioral science. These diverse meanings of privacy fall into two broad categories: rounding each animal of a particular species that systematically regulate interactions withdrawal from other persons and control over personal information. Irwin Altman with other animals of the same or other species. Two types of distance zones control defines privacy as the selective control of access to the self or to one’s group. The interactions with members of other species. Flight distance is the point at which principal research method for studying privacy has involved self-report survey and an animal will flee from the approach of another animal of a different species; criti- questionnaire measures concerned with people’s experience of privacy in a variety of cal distance is the narrow zone between flight distance and the point at which the real-world settings. A small number of investigators have also employed naturalistic stalked animal will turn and attack the intruder. A captive lion, for example, will flee observation and unobtrusive measures to study privacy. an approaching human until it reaches a barrier. If the person continues to approach and enters the lion’s critical distance, the lion will reverse direction and begin to stalk An important psychological function of privacy is to regulate social interaction be- the person (Hall, 1966). tween a person or group and the social world. For example, privacy regulates the disclosure of personal information and helps to maintain group order. Privacy also Two additional distance zones regulate interactions between animals of the same serves the important psychological function of helping the individual to establish a species. Personal distance is the space that is normally maintained between animals sense of personal identity. Privacy helps us to define our personal boundaries” to that have no intimate relationship to each other. Social distance is the point at which evaluate ourselves in comparison with other persons” and to develop a sense of an animal begins to feel uneasy because it is out of touch with its own group. Thus personal autonomy. personal distance is based on the notion of separation, social distance on the idea of containment. Hall suggests that although flight distance and critical distance have Theoretical models of privacy have been based on the notion that privacy involves generally been eliminated from interaction between humans, personal and social the control of information between people and groups. Altman proposes that privacy distance still exert a regulatory influence on human interaction. is a dialectical process, in which the oppositional qualities of being open or closed to social interaction shift over time as social circumstances change. Thus the dialecti- INTERACTION DISPLAYS IN HUMANS cal model views privacy as a two-way street, sometimes involving a separation from One of Hall’s major contributions to the psychological study of -spatial behavior is other persons and sometimes involving social contact. At the heart of the dialectical his identification and description of four distance zones (each with a near and far model is the notion that privacy involves the regulation of interpersonal boundaries, phase) that regulate social interactions between human beings (Figure 9-1). Intimate controlling both social inputs from other persons to the self and social outputs from distance is the zone from the point of physical contact to eighteen inches from ‘an the self to others. According to this model, people strive to attain an optima/level of individual, and is the area reserved for lovemaking, comforting, and physical contact privacy; either too little or too much is unsatisfactory. In order to optimize personal sports, such as wrestling. Personal distance is the area from eighteen inches to four privacy, individuals employ multiple behavioral mechanisms, including verbal behavior, feet from a person, and is appropriate for interactions between very dose friends and nonverbal use of the body, and environmental behaviors. personal conversations between acquaintances, (This concept is related to Hediger’s14 15
  12. 12. notion of personal distance in animals.) Social distance, which extends from four to The most current models of personal space view it as a complex pattern of related twelve feet around the individual is used for business contacts, with more formal and behaviors that are adjusted systemically to changing circumstances. This theoretical distant business restricted to the far extreme. Finally, public distance is the zone from position emphasizes that personal space is maintained by a range of interrelated twelve to twenty-five feet or more beyond a person, and is reserved for very formal behaviors in addition to interpersonal distance, including eye contact, head posi- contacts, such as those between a public speaker or an actor and an audience. tion, and body orientation. In discussing invasions of personal space, we shall see that a person whose personal space is invaded responds with a complex variety of patterned behaviors. These systems models of personal space (and of spatial behavior generally) have drawn on a broader theoretical framework in the human and physical sciences known as general systems theory (see Boulding, 1968; von Bertalanffy, 1968). Essential to systems models is the notion that social and biological systems (e.g., an industrial organization, the human body, a forest ecosystem) consist of a variety of interlocking variables that function 50 as to maintain an overall state of equilibrium in the system over time. For example, the various organs in the human body function together in a complex interplay of mutual influences to maintain a steady body temperature while external conditions of temperature and humidity may vary greatly. Figure 9-1: People carefully regulate the spatial distance between themselves and other people. PERSONAL SPACE, PRIVACY, AND TERRITORIALITY We must distinguish personal space from two related though distinct concepts we PERSONAL SPACE examined in Chapter 5-privacy and territoriality. In distinguishing personal space from Spurred by Hall’s classic studies in proxemics, an extensive body of research and privacy, we must keep in mind that personal space always has a spatial referent- scholarship has developed in the area of what has come to be called “personal the distance between two people. Although, as we shall see, the physical distance space.” Personal space is defined as the zone around an individual into which other between people may be less important in itself than the manner in which it regulates persons may not trespass. It has been compared to a bubble surrounding the indi- cues in interpersonal communication, the spatial referent is invariably part of the vidual, creating an invisible boundary between the person and potential intruders. definition of personal space Unlike a real bubble, the bubble of personal space is highly variable, and will shrink or expand in accordance with individual differences, changing circumstances,and the Privacy, in contrast, refers more broadly to the control of access between the self nature of particular interpersonal relationships. While personal space has often been and others, and involves multiple mechanisms, such as verbal messages and type of referred to as circular, some recent evidence (Hayduk, 1975) suggests that personal clothing, in addition to spatial cues. Yet there is an important link between personal space may not be a perfect circle. And while the notion of a bubble emphasizes spa- space and privacy: personal space provides one mechanism that can be used to tial distance between people, we shall discover that behaviors other than distancing, achieve a desired level of privacy (see Altman, 1975). For example, a person who including eye contact and body orientation, are also employed to maintain personal wants to keep other people from claiming his or her attention while studying in a col- space. It is important to recognize that personal space is a product of forces toward lege library (desires a high degree of privacy) might choose to sit at some distance both approach and avoidance, and, as such, identifies an appropriate range for spe- from other persons in the area (to increase the personal space zone) cific types of interactions, rather than simply a defense against intrusion. As Robert Sommer has colorfully commented: “Like the porcupines in Schopenhauer’s fable, Personal space must also be distinguished from territoriality. Sommer (1969) notes people like to be close enough to obtain warmth and comradeship but far enough that often the defense of personal space is 50 enmeshed with the defense of an away to avoid pricking one another” (1969:26). immediate territory that the two processes may seem to be identical. We should remember, however, that personal space is an invisible boundary that moves with an16 17
  13. 13. individual as he or she changes location. Territory, in contrast, is a visible area that has a stationary location. For example, your personal space bubble moves with you as you go from your house or apartment (your territory) to the home or apartment of a friend (your friend’s territory) SEX An especially interesting finding involves differences in personal space that are as- sociated with sex. In fact, many of the other findings in this field tend to interact with sex, such as ethnic and developmental effects on personal space. The personal space zone has been found to be greater for men than for women, even when the potential confounding influences of relative status and warmth have been controlled for (Wittig and Skolnick, 1978). Researchers who have observed interac- tions between two members of the same sex have consistently found that male-male pairs maintain greater interpersonal distance than female- female pairs (Aiello and jones, 1971; Pellegrini and Empey, 1970; Sommer, 1959). Mixed-sex pairs have been shown to maintain closer spatial proximity than same-sex pairs (Duke and Nowicki, 1972; Hartnett, Bailey, and Gibson, 1970; Jourard, 1966a; Kuethe, 1962a, 1962b). Observations of spatial positioning between close friends on a college campus in South Africa reveals that the close proximity of mixed-sex dyads was due primarily to the spatial behavior of the women, who tended to move closer to men they liked (Edwards, 1972). MEASURING PERSONAL SPACE The use of simulation to study personal space was originated by James Kuethe Research that has examined the relationship of ethnic background and developmental (1962a, 1962b, 1964). In Kuethe’s jigure-placement technique, a subject was given stage to personal space has shown a complicated picture of interactions with the two or more felt cutouts of human figures and asked to place them on a felt field in sex of the subjects being studied. Aiello and Jones (1971) observed the behavior of any manner the subject wished. Kuethe discovered that his subjects did not place the first- and second-graders in a schoolyard, and found that, while white boys showed felt figures randomly or haphazardly; they responded according to particular response larger personal space zones than white girls, no sex effects were observed for black set: that determined both which figures belonged together and the degree to which and Puerto Rican children. In a later study, Jones and Aiello (1973) reported that they belonged together. These social response sets help to structure ambiguous interactions between school-aged children in free discussion showed that, while situations, and individuals from the same cultural background tend to share very black girls stood closer together than white girls, no ethnic effect was found among similar response sets. For example, subjects placed figures of a woman and a child boys. Using a simulation technique, Guardo and Meisels (1971b) found that girls’ nearer together than figures of a man and a child; but a figure of a dog was placed figure placements showed relatively more stability than boys’ between the third and nearer to a man than to a woman (Figure 9-3). eighth grades, but there were few sex-related differences in placements by the time students reached the ninth and tenth grades. To measure personal space with the figure-placement technique, the researcher asks the subject to imagine that one figure already on the field is a particular person, such as the subject’s mother, father, or best friend. The subject is then asked to imagine that a second figure is him- or herself and to place that figure on the field in any position he or she chooses. The researcher assesses personal space by measuring the distance between the” self” and” other” figures on the field. Rae18 19
  14. 14. Carlson and M. A. Price (1966) used Kuethe’s (1962) original set of human and More recent evidence, however, has suggested that the correlation between simula- nonhuman figures (see Figure 9-3) in their investigation of developmental trends in tion measures of personal space and actual personal space behavior may be lower the way people employ space in interpersonal relationships. Alternative methods than was previously assumed. After an extensive review of studies of personal space, for simulating personal space include paper-and-pencil measures, where subjects Leslie Hayduk (1978), concludes that simulation measures do not provide a sufficiently are asked to mark a piece of paper to show the distance between themselves and strong index of the way people use personal space in real social settings. The chief another person (Duke and Nowicki, 1972), positioning small dolls on a field (Little, problem is that simulation measures must rely on subjects’ cognitive abilities. For 1965), and expressing preferences for photographs showing people interacting in example, in order to use figures to represent real interpersonal behaviors, subjects varied positions (Haase, 1970), must be able to imagine a particular social and physical setting, to view themselves in interaction from a third-person perspective, and to transform the scale of real As we noted earlier in regard to other environmental behaviors, it is essential to social relationships to the scale of small figures. The influence of cognitive ability on ascertain whether subjects’ responses to simulated conditions are similar to their measures of personal space is of particular concern in testing children, where the behavior in real-world contexts; that is, the external validity of simulation techniques range in cognitive ability may be considerable. must be systematically explored, If simulation measures of personal space are to provide valid information, we need to be sure that there is a close correspondence Some support for Hayduk’s position comes from a recent study by Kathleen Love between the way people place simulated human figures on a field and the way they and John Aiello (1980). They asked pairs of female college students to have a discus- use actual interpersonal space. sion on a prearranged topic in an experimental setting. During their discussion, their interpersonal distance was unobtrusively recorded. The subjects were next presented Kenneth Little (1965) examined this question by using both a simulation technique with three traditional measures of personal space-two simulation measures (felt figure and real actresses on a stage. First he had subjects place simulated figures on a placements and doll placements) and the stop-distance procedure. background field representing a variety of settings, such as a street corner, a lobby Love and Aiello then explicitly asked subjects to place their figures or to stop the ap- in a public building, and a location on a college campus. He then asked the subjects proach so as to reproduce the interpersonal distance they had themselves maintained to play the role of a theater director, and to situate two real actresses on a stage during the discussion. The investigators found that the two simulation measures representing the same environmental settings simulated earlier. The correspondence and the stop-distance procedure correlated poorly with the actual interpersonal in interpersonal distance between the simulated figures and the actresses was re- distances in the discussion. They concluded that because personal space behavior markably close. occurs outside of people’s awareness, it is difficult for them to duplicate actual in- terpersonal distances on simulation or stop-distance measures even when they are One shortcoming of Little’s study was that in the real-life situations, subjects situ- explicitly asked to do so. ated actresses rather than using interpersonal space themselves. Edward Gottheil and his associates (Gottheil, Corey, and Paredes, 1968) repeated Little’s study in a On the basis of the accumulated research evidence concerning the external validity manner that permitted a direct comparison between figure-placement distance and of simulation measures of personal space, we may conclude (1) that environmental interpersonal distance used by subjects in a real-life setting. First they arranged psychologists interested in, studying personal space should use naturalistic ob- an interview situation in which subjects were asked to place simulated figures rep- servation methods whenever possible; (2) that when naturalistic observation is not resenting themselves and the interviewer on a field. Later they photographed the possible, the stop-distance procedure is preferable to simulation measures (Hayduk, actual distance from the interviewer selected by the subjects during the interview. 1978); and (3) that when simulation must be used (such as when a large sample of The correspondence in interpersonal distance between the simulated and real-life subjects is to be tested), the findings based on it should be accorded relatively less situations was again remarkably close. Holahan and Levinger (1971), using a similar weight than findings based on naturalistic observation. interview situation, also found a close correspondence between figure-placement distance and real interpersonal distance in an actual setting.20 21
  15. 15. PSYCHOLOGICAL FUNCTIONS OF PERSONAL SPACE Felipe sat in the chair directly alongside the subject, and moved her chair as close as SELF-PROTECTION possible to the subject’s chair without causing physical contact. After thirty minutes, Environmental psychologists believe that an important function of personal space 70 percent of the invaded subjects had retreated from their positions, while only is self-protection. Personal space operates as a buffer against both physical and 13 percent of the controls had left their seats. In a less serious invasion situation, emotional threats from other persons. In fact, some researchers (Oosey and Mei- however, when another chair or a table was situated between the invader and the sels, 1969; Horowitz, Duff, and Stratton, 1964) have referred to personal space as subject, subjects showed little reaction to the intruder. a “body-buffer zone,” thereby explicitly recognizing the self-protective function of the personal space boundary. Researchers have observed that when people find We might ask whether there are additional ways individuals cope with an invasion of themselves in a threatening situation, they automatically enlarge their personal space their personal space in addition to simply fleeing the area. In fact, Sommer reports zone in self-defense. For example, people maintained greater interpersonal distances that in both invasion studies, subjects attempted initially to cope behaviorally with when they were told that their physical and sexual attractiveness was being evaluated the invasion before fleeing. These behavioral adjustments to invasion were quite (Oosey and Meisels, 1969), and when they were given negative feedback about their complex, and tended to vary from individual to individual. Some subjects altered performance on a task (Karabenick and Meisels, 1972). their orientations toward the intruder by facing away or by subtly adjusting the angles of their chairs. Some subjects also adjusted their posture in a defensive fashion, by Consider for a moment how we might experimentally study the protective function of pulling in their shoulders, moving their elbows to their sides, or placing their chins personal space. One procedure would be to intrude into another person’s personal in their hands. Other subjects used books and other objects as barriers against the space zone and systematically to observe that person’s reactions. In fact, the most invader. If these defensive maneuvers were unsuccessful, the subject then resorted widely used and most dramatic technique employed by environmental psycholo- to flight. Miles Patterson and his colleagues (Patterson, Mullens, and Romano, 1971) gists to investigate the protective function of personal space has been just such an reported a similar pattern of complex behavioral responses to spatial invasion in a experimental invasion of another individual’s personal space. This invasion technique library. When we discuss theories of personal space, we shall see that the complex has been used with particular effectiveness by Robert Sommer and his associates behavioral adjustments people make to such invasions are a central aspect in sys- (Sommer, 1969; Felipe and Sommer, 1966,1972). tems models of personal space. In one study, Sommer invaded the personal space of psychiatric patients in a 1,500- bed mental hospital in Mendocino, California. As subjects he selected male patients who were sitting alone on benches and who were not engaged in any particular activ- ity. To invade the patient’s personal space, Sommer walked over and sat beside him, without saying a word. He situated himself just six inches from the patient, and if the patient moved slightly away, Sommer moved also to keep the distance between the patient and himself at six inches. In order systematically to assess patients’ reactions to the invasion of their personal space, Sommer selected a control group of patients who were also seated alone in the same general area, but whose space was not invaded. He reports that patients’ reactions to the invasion were dramatic. Within two minutes, one-third of the invaded patients had fled their seats, while not one control patient had moved away. After nine minutes, half of the invaded patients had been driven away, while only 8 percent of the controls had left their seats (Figure 9-4), In a second study, Nancy Felipe invaded the personal space of female students who were seated alone, reading or studying, in the study hall of a college library. Again control subjects were selected among other female students who were also seated alone in the study hall. In the most dramatic invasion situation,22 23
  16. 16. CHARACTERISTICS OF THE INVADER field experiment at a water fountain in the corridor of a university classroom building. Some studies have examined how characteristics of the person who invades some- The proportion of passers-by who drank from the fountain was observed under four one else’s personal space affect the response to the invasion. Research evidence experimental conditions: when the area around the fountain was typified by high has indicated that the invader’s sex, age, and social status influence an individual’s and low social density, and (within each of these conditions) when an experimental reaction to an invasion of personal space. Male invaders cause more movement on confederate and when no one stood one foot from the fountain. the part of an invaded party than female intruders (Bleda and Bleda, 1976; Dabbs, 1971). Interestingly, research has shown that men are also more disturbed than Table 9-1 shows the proportions of passers-by who drank from the water fountain Women by invasions of their personal space (Garfinkel, 1964; Patterson, Mullens, under each of the four experimental conditions (300 subjects were observed under and Romano, 1971). each condition). Consistent with Thalhofer’s predictions, the confederate’s personal space was violated more often when social density was high than when it was low. Anna Fry and Frank Willis (1971) have demonstrated that the age of the invader also Thalhofer’s study is especially interesting because it examined two social processes helps to determine the victim’s response. They had children stand less than six inches in the environment Simultaneously the invasion of personal space and coping with behind adults on a theater line, and found that while 5-year-olds were given a posi- crowding. The joint effects of two or more psychological processes offer interesting tive response, 8-year-olds tended to be ignored, and 10-year-olds were accorded possibilities for future research. the same negative reactions shown to intruding adults. Finally, David Barash (1973) found that the apparent status of the invader affected subjects’ reactions in a library. Additional research has demonstrated that people are reluctant to invade the space When a male intruder was formally dressed in a suit and appeared to be a faculty of two people who are interacting together-an indication that social groups are per- member, students fled more precipitously than they did when the same intruder was ceived to have a personal space zone comparable to an individual’s. Research by casually dressed and appeared to be a fellow student. James Cheyne and Michael Efran (Cheyne and Efran, 1972; Efran and Cheyne, 1973, 1974) demonstrated that individuals were reluctant to penetrate the personal THE INVADER’S PERSPECTIVE space of two people who were conversing, but were relatively unconcerned about So far we have examined the psychological effects of an invasion of personal space intruding when the pair was simply standing around. And when the two were more on the person whose space is invaded. We might also ask how the intruder is affected than four feet apart, intrusions increased. The sex of the pairs was also found to be psychologically by the prospect of invading someone else’s personal space. After all, important. Reluctance to intrude was greatest for mixed-sex pairs, intermediate for someone who intrudes into another person’s space is at the same time allowing an a pair of women, and least pronounced for male pairs. The behavior of the intrud- invasion of his or her Own personal space. Environmental psychologists who have ers revealed their own discomfort at invading other people’s personal space. They addressed this question have consistently found that people report discomfort and tended to lower their heads, close their eyes, and mumble apologies as they passed generally negative feelings about intruding into other people’s personal space. For through the interacting pair’s space. example, people tended to avoid drinking at a water fountain in a university building when another person (a confederate of the experimenters) was situated within five Eric Knowles (1973) reports that the size of the invaded group also affects an indi- feet of the fountain (Baum, Reiss, and O’Hara, 1974). Interestingly, however, when the vidual’s inclination to intrude. He found that while people were generally disinclined fountain was screened off (inserted into the wall rather than extending from the wall), to invade the personal space of a conversing group, the effect was more pronounced people were more willing to stop and drink even when another person was nearby. for a four-person group than for a two-person group. When we compare Knowles’s Nancy Thalhofer (1980) speculated that an individual’s reluctance to drink from a wa- findings with Thalhofer’s, we should keep in mind that in Thalhofer’s experiment the ter fountain when another person stands nearby might vary according to the overall passers-by did not invade the space of a social group, but of an individual in the number of persons in the area around the fountain. On the basis of an information vicinity of other persons. Also, while Knowles’s foursome was a coherent group of overload model of crowding (see “Theoretical Perspectives on Crowding,” Chapter 7), conversing persons, Thalhofer’s condition of high social density consisted of a more she reasoned that if people pay less attention to social Cues in crowded conditions, disparate collection of individuals. It appears that when social density involves a co- they should feel less discomfort in violating another person’s personal space when herent social group involved in conversation, the personal space of the group itself social density is high than when it is low. To test this hypothesis, she conducted a will be respected. Knowles also found that people were more reluctant to invade the24 25
  17. 17. space of a high-status group than of a low-status group, as reflected in the group’s age and manner of dress. A further study (Knowles, Kreuser, Haas, Hyde, and Schuchart, 1976) found that pedestrians walked farther away from a group of people than from a single individual. INVADERS AT THE MCAD LIBRARY There is a certain table at the MCAD library that I consider to be the best table. It is hidden amongst the shelves, right next to all the illustrated children’s books. I think it’s safe to say that this is one of the most sought-after tables in the library. The only problem is, that only one person ever works there at a time. They take up the whole table (on occasion with a buddy) and work away, that is, until an invader comes. Since it is the most sought-after table, people are always walking to the back of this room to see if it is claimed. The result is an awkward, usually non-verbal interaction between the invaded and the invader.26 27
  18. 18. ENVIRONMENT AND BEHAVIOR AS A COMPLEX SYSTEM Various mechanisms for the regulation of privacy operate as a coherent system. These mechanisms include verbal behavior, paraverbal behavior, nonverbal behav- ior, personal space, and territorial behavior. These behaviors operate in different combinations, guided by needs and perceptions associated with desired levels of privacy. Thus we are dealing with a complex set of perceptual, motivational, and behavioral processes. I propose that environmental design deal with all these levels simultaneously, not one at a time. We should pose such questions as: To what extent is personal space a more dominant mechanism of privacy regulation by a particular person or family than other behaviors? Under what circumstances is territorial be- havior combined with nonverbal behaviors? When territorial mechanisms cannot be employed, what combination of other behaviors is used by members of this group? There are no simple answers to these questions, but they are intended to reflect the idea that environment design can involve more than only the physical environment. It is possible that we can design environmental systems in which the environment and various types of behavior are meshed together as a unity. But the designers, in collaboration with researchers, must become specialists in many levels of behav- ior, not merely those directly associated with the environment. The designers must become tuned in to the behavioral mechanisms for regulating privacy. If they can understand the regulation of privacy, designers may create extremely flexible and responsive environments, because a whole new set of resources will become part of the environmental-design package. How can the designers get information about behavioral mechanisms? The designers can integrate information from researchers and clients, much as they do now. But other types of information also need to be gathered. The type of query I speak of is more expansive than thy typical “user-need” and “user-want” questions that ask: What are they psychological needs of the user that should be satisfied by the envi- ronment? What do consumers want in the new environment? The direction I propose asks not only these questions but also additional ones. The designers need to deal with the behaviors that users employ in order to achieve desired levels of interaction. They should ask, for example, How are the territories used? What mechanisms and combinations of mechanisms are employed to regulate social interaction? These questions are behavioral and focus on the user as an active, coping organism that interacts with and employs the physical environment and other behaviors in various combinations. Thus these design questions imply the theme of creating responsive environments that users can interact with and that become extensions of their behav- ioral repertoires. To gain such information may require direct observations, however informal, of user activities, in addition to interviews and questionnaires. People often28 29
  19. 19. cannot report accurately what they do or how they behave. It may be necessary to spend time watching them function in their actual environments to understand the 1. Maximize environmental capabilities. Although people may not employ all mecha- total profile of their privacy-regulation system. nisms to the same degree, it may be wise to allow for the possibility that more than the current repertoire can be used. Thus, even though primary territories may not If profiles of user needs, desires, and behavioral styles can be determined, the be a central concern, designs might allow for the possibility of their development in environmental designer can then capitalize on both environmental and behavioral a flexible fashion at some future time. In this way, if people have inclinations toward capabilities in an integrated fashion. Thus if one is designing an environment for a territorial usage, or if a norm gradually develops that involves use of territories, then group that places considerable value on primary territories, then the design should the environment will be sufficiently adaptive to permit that to happen. And, if they build this style into the environment. But if a group uses territories in a more casual don’t develop such mechanisms, then they at least are not locked into using them. and changeable fashion, then the environmental design should permit such shifts to Thus environments should not only be responsive, but they should also permit a occur. Or if a group relies heavily on verbal and paraverbal mechanisms to control degree of “evolutionary flexibility” and growth over time. interaction, then the design should facilitate the operation of this coping style and not be so concerned with physical territories. So two areas of investigation seem 2. Train people to use environments. Sommer (1972) highlighted the idea that people important in environmental design: (1) What is the combination of mechanisms used often are overly passive and not willing to reshape environments, and they adapt too by the consumer to regulate social interaction? Which behaviors are predominant? quickly to even the most undesirable places. For example, I have been in several con- Which are unimportant? What seems to be the most appropriate combination most ferences at which the arrangements of tables and chairs were simply not conducive often used? (2) How stable or changeable does the environment need to be in regard to free discussion (they represented the janitor’s idea of how our meeting should be to use of these mechanisms? Does the environment need to be a continually fluid organized!). Yet people hardly ever protest such arrangements or ask for a redesign of one, or can it be relatively fixed, given the group’s response profile? the place. They are willing to stretch their necks to see one another, speak to people sitting behind them by twisting around, fidget in uncomfortable chairs, and so on. In summary, I propose that environmental designers pay attention to behavioral styles We are simply unwilling to act on our environments to make them fit what we desire. of consumers, as well as to their perceptual-cognitive-motivational states. To focus Because of this problem, Sommer called for environmental workshops to sensitize on only one level of behavior misses the point that we are dealing with a complex people to possibilities for acting on and shaping environments. He described one system of needs, wants, and behavioral styles. such workshop designed to make teachers more aware of their classroom environ- ments. Discussions were held about seating arrangements. Personal-space distances, A dilemma arises, however, concerning this approach. Behavioral styles of an indi- and the effect of classroom configurations on student participation. Also, a series of vidual, a group, or a culture may have evolved because of the press and constraint awareness sessions was held in which teachers adopted the role of small children, sat of environments. For example, members of an inner-city, urban family may have in their chairs, and used the classroom environment much as children do to heighten developed other than territorial mechanisms simply because it is impossible to es- their sensitivity to their environment from other than their own perspective. tablish territories in densely populated homes. How can persons who sleep several to a room or to a bed use these places as primary territories? Should the practitioner, In a different setting, Sommer held workshops with hospital staff members. Nurses using my proposed strategy, then conclude that new environments should not include and other personnel were placed in the role of patients as a way of giving them a primary territories because the people did not use them in the earlier environment? different perspective on the hospital environment. In Sommer’s words: If the answer is reached that no primary territories should be incorporated into the As turn-on devices we used such prosthetic aids as crutches, wheelchairs, and gurneys. new environment, then the user is locked into a situation in which old environmental These produced some interesting perceptual experiences which were shared with the constraints are re-created and in which there is no opportunity to change his or her group at large. Distances seemed three times as long on crutches as they had previously. life-style. The path out of this dilemma is not totally clear, but at least two steps may It took a very long time to go down the hallway in a wheelchair; when one person wheeled be necessary: another, the speed of passage was very important. Wheeling a person at ordinary walk- ing speed seemed much too fast; the person in the chair felt as if he were a bowling30 31
  20. 20. from Turnbull ( 1972), who studied the impact of governmental relocation of the Ik ball going down the alley. Tall men were particularly bothered by being looked down tribal group in Uganda, Africa. The Ik lived a simple, cooperative life, hunted for their on as they sat in a wheelchair; this did not seem to bother short men, who apparently food, resided in small tribal bands, and were a kind and good-natured people. For a were used to being looked down on. Riding on the gurney, a long flat table with wheels, number of reasons, including conservation of land and wildlife, the Ugandan govern- made a number of people nauseous; the ceiling became the visual environment and ment declared their land a national park and forced them to live at the edges of the the overhead lights went flashing by bang bang bang in a very annoying manner [p. 44]. park. They were prevented from returning to their homes and were encouraged by the government to become farmers. Over time, Ik social life disintegrated. Willems’ But increasing environmental sensitivity is only a first step. One of our guiding themes (1973) summary of Tumbull’s account is vivid: is that people actively use and shape their environments, so that, ultimately, one goal of workshops should be to teach people how to use their environments more The social and behavioral fabric of the lk society fell apart completely. Malicious effectively. We might develop environmental user manuals. Just as we use instruction competition replaced cooperation. Hostility and treachery replaced kindness. books with new electric toasters and washing machines. More analogous would be Laughter became a raucous response to the misfortunes of people, rather than learning how to use a stereo system, for the rules and procedures are less fixed, and an expression or good will and humor. Members of the group were left to die and sometimes goaded to die instead of being nursed and helped. Strong isolation in booby- the sound quality must be adapted to room and acoustic configurations, user prefer- trapped enclaves replaced openness and companionship between people [p. 156]. ences, specific mood states, nature and quality of the recording, and other factors. Many new stereo users simply do not appreciate the wide options available to help them create variety or the adjustments that are possible to fit changing personal Thus a seemingly simple relocation produced a change in one part of a complex moods, recording artists, and record quality. So it is with people and environments. system that reverberated throughout the group’s total social life and disrupted a Aside from stereotyped ideas we all have about the location of furniture, places for once stable system. privacy, and kitchen layout, few people are really aware of possibilities for shaping our environments. Furthermore, only a few of us consciously see the complex interplay In a sense, much of what has been proposed really deals with interpersonal commu- of environment with verbal, nonverbal, personal-space, and territorial behaviors. How nication. The goals of the system for the regulation of privacy include management of many people are sensitive to the fact that various personal distances change pos- interpersonal communication, regulation of self/other boundaries, and enhancement sibilities for nonverbal and other forms of communication, such as body beat, smell, of people’s responsiveness to one another. The use of the physical environment is part and touch? How many people arrange their homes or offices in terms of personal- of a complex interpersonal-communication system. Applying environmental design space concepts? How many families reshape their environmental life-style to match and training people to use their environments really deal with effective social com- the different needs of growing children, or as they move from being middle aged munication; that is, the physical environment becomes part of a complex behavioral to being elderly? Without selling down specific rules, I believe that environmental repertoire that people use to deal with one another. awareness and environmental-usage training might help people to better use, shape, and reshape their environments. There is another feature of the environment as a complex system that needs to be considered, beyond the notion of many levels of behavior fitting together. Willems (1973. 1974) stressed the theme that a change in one part of the environmental system can have serious and reverberating effects, often unpredictable, on other parts of the system. It is easy to point to dramatic examples in the physical sphere. The increased use of detergent soaps often ends up with soapsuds in water supplies, insecticides sometimes speed up evolutionary processes and produce resistant strains of insects, and horrendous problems of disposal and pollution are sometimes created by new forms of wastes. But aren’t such reverberations and ecological “stupidities” possible and even evident for social processes? Willems gave several examples of these social reverberations, one drawn32 33
  21. 21. libraries Libraries have an ancient, honorable history. More than five thousand years ago, the Sumerians stored clay tablets containing agricultural and other records in temple buildings. Rameses II (1292- 1225 B.C.) set up a library of sacred literature. In the seventh century B.C., the Assyrian ruler Assur~bani-pal established several royal libraries, one of which contained more than 20,000 clay “volumes” recording many of the most important Near Eastern literary works. The famous library in Alexandria, Egypt, held as many as 900,000 papyrus rolls which, in effect, contained the whole culture of the ancient Greek world. When this library burned, a considerable portion of Greek civilization was obliterated. By 300 A.D., there were twentyeight public librar- ies in Rome as well as many extensive private collections. About a hundred years later, many of these “’pagan” libraries were destroyed or allowed to fall into ruin. As a result, what we speak of as the classical heritage is a relatively meager collection of leftovers, not the banquet, preserved in part by copyists in medieval scriptoriums. Because libraries have historically served as the seedpods or memory centers of human culture, it is understandable that librarians have tended to be a conservative breed. In fact, the plan of most medieval libraries (usually found in the monasteries) was more akin to that of museums, designed to discourage the use and/ or borrow- ing of the precious, rare volumes. This is part of the tradition which modern librarians have had to overcome. Even today, it is probably not unfair to say that most librarians would put books first, people second, and buildings last. But librarians also want to get books and people together, which means that they usually want people to come into their libraries and stay awhile. And this -means that libraries must be preferred environments. There are of course libraries and libraries. Enormous, venerable institutions like the Bodleian, the British Museum, the Bibliotheque Nationale, the library of Congress, some university libraries, a few great publics like the New York Public Library, and specialized, privately endowed collections like the ]. P. Morgan or Huntington are essentially research libraries. Such libraries, containing many millions of volumes, including some rare or priceless items, have too many worries vis-a.-vis space and security problems and need not be overly concerned about attracting scholarly types who’ll go there regardless of environmental conditions. But most people are under no great compulsion to visit or remain in the more common variety of libraries, public34 35
  22. 22. school, local community, and some undergraduate libraries need all the environmental search through a complex cataloguing system one does not understand, a visit to help they can get if they are to fulfill their functions. the stacks to get some idea as to whether the books selected are appropriate, or a long wait at the desk for some of the books to be delivered versus simply walking up Let’s start with the dominance aspect. Most libraries elicit a good deal of submis- to a computer terminal, typing in a few key terms (such as “libraries,” “technology” siveness from their users one’s library behavior is extremely circumscribed, requiring and “environmental psychology”), and having an immediate visual display of those a hush-hush, tip-toeing degree of self-control amounting almost to the reverential. volumes which are the intersection points of these topics. Add to the latter alternative As we shall see, this temple-like behavior is really not always necessary or desirable the convenience of next requesting abstracts of journal articles or volumes in order if libraries’ are properly designed. to scan any particular Source and determine its relevance. Access to the stacks is another facet of library design that can sometimes needlessly A second convenient (pleasure- and dominance-inducing) trend associated with detract from one’s feeling of competence, control, or freedom within the library envi- technological advances in library design is the addition of storage media which ronment. In older libraries, books were usually laid horizontally on shelves or tables supplement the printed page. Microfilm, microfiche, punched cards, perforated tapes, and were often chained to them. In the post-Gutenberg era, when the number of magnetic tapes, and many types of digital and graphic techniques are now available books began to increase exponentially, books were stored vertically on wall shelves. for the storage and transmission of textual or pictorial materials. The advantage of Still later, shelves were placed at right angles to the walls, forming small alcoves in facsimile transmission when such media are used is temporarily offset by the cost the process. In the mid-nineteenth century, the British Museum, under the direction of of specialized display stations for the user. However, as such display stations gradu- its librarian, Antonio Panizzi, was the first library to segregate its book storage areas ally become more common in libraries it will be possible to view materials stored in from its reading rooms. In many libraries that follow this arrangement, the stacks are other libraries. This will minimize the necessity for each library to duplicate materials often not open to the general public. housed in others and will allow for more specialization. Given the escalating rate in the outpouring of books and journals, libraries would have a choice of provid- People have to locate titles they want in the card catalogue, fill out a complicated ing incomplete coverage across different fields of specialization or specializing and ‘request slip, wait in line to hand the slip in at a delivery desk, and then wait until the then relying on network transmission with other libraries that have different fields of book is located and delivered-or not delivered if “in use,” or “at the bindery.” This specialization. may be the only way to go for libraries having enormous noncirculating collections that must he stored as economically as possible in labyrinthian stacks~ but it is a Another aspect of libraries that has been conducive to a more comfortable and more time consuming and frustrating procedure that may even turn off some motivated dominant feeling for the user is the idea of the circulating collection, which in time readers. Unfortunately, many medium-sized undergraduate and public libraries have will include audio and video cassettes as well: The idea of a circulating collection of adopted this procedure quite needlessly. Some people who have access to univer- popular reading matter was put into practice for the first time by the Boston Public sity libraries would rather Use their local public branches for generalized research in Library in 1854. It was a good idea because it gave people an opportunity to read areas outside their own specialties. If they know only one title in some field they’re books in an environment that suited them, thus allowing more control or indepen- trying to learn more about, they can locate that title in the catalogue and then go to dence. Often, the great libraries are too possessive about what they will permit to the stacks and look at the other books in the immediate vicinity. There is , bound to circulate; but if they made their reading rooms more preferable, it wouldn’t matter be something there that they can use, even if the book they are looking for is out. nearly as much. Even libraries which have good-Sized circulating collections often Moreover, since most books in a small public library circulate l if they find something make the use of their books more circumscribed or more difficult than need be. For they’d like to read they can take it home. example, the cataloguing system is frequently complicated enough to befuddle even experienced adults, who sometimes find themselves searching for some title in the Most research libraries today are undergoing a technological revolution which is wrong place because they fail to notice a letter or number which indicates that the bound to lead to a far greater sense of dominance for the User. Computers are now book they want is in the Rare Book Collection or in the Young Adult Section. It would being introduced into libraries for catalogue and bibliographic search. Imagine the be relatively easy to color code the cards; for example, you could instantly recognize difference between systems before and after the installation of computers: an involved from a blue card that the book you want is in reference, not in the stacks.36 37
  23. 23. Recent experiments in certain circulating libraries also indicate that the common rooms, it is convenient to be able to examine books with some care on the spot rather practice of limiting the number of books one may check out during a visit, and the than carry a whole pile of them somewhere else. In such cases, the stacks could period of time for which books in a given Dewey classification can circulate, together be provided with upholstered benches so people could sit down in relative comfort. with the system of fines, may not be the most efficient way of running a library. Some People with two or three books in their hands could then sit down and peruse a fourth small town school and public libraries have completely done away with the whole before deciding whether it’s what they want. They wouldn’t have to sit on the floor, business of library cards, checkout procedures, and fines; instead, people are given which is invariably covered with dusty and heat-conducting (cold) tile. Many newer unrestricted access to the circulating collection. They walk out with as many books libraries are getting back to the older practice of making some of the stacks part of as they want and bring them back when they feel like it. To the great surprise of those the reading room environment, thus providing subject area alcoves: librarians who’ve tried this experiment, the number of books taken out goes up and the rate of nonreturns (and also of damage) goes down significantly, sometimes by as much as 1.0 percent. The lesson in all this seems to be that if we increase people’s sense of independence and control (dominance) in a small community, we will also increase their sense of responsibility to the community. At any rate, there won’t be any overdue library books at home ticking away like taxi meters. A collection of books is not a library but a warehouse. A library is by definition a place where books are used” and if a library environment is such that the use of books is discouraged, those responsible for administering the library have failed to perform one of their essential functions. What then are some of the things that can be done This is somewhat inefficient in terms of space, but far more efficient in terms of getting to increase preference for the typical public or undergraduate library? Besides envi- people to explore a pleasant and moderately loaded book-filled environment. ronmental load, which we’ll consider in detail shortly, it is important to increase the comfort (pleasure- and dominance-eliciting quality) of the library. We have so far noted The most important aspect of library design is careful consideration of the load in the dominance aspect of libraries. To see how something as elementary as pleasure the various facilities. Most of us try to adjust the environmental load while reading. is ignored in most library designs, consider the stacks, which are often drearier and For example, when reading at home, many people turn on 50ft music because loud more uncomfortable or inconvenient than they need to be. Since these are essen- music or news over the radio or the TV is too arousing. We know that people pre- tially storage areas, one’s impulse is to make them economical storage areas. But fer less loaded settings when they read difficult (complex and slightly unpleasant) there is such a thing as being penny-wise and avoidance-foolish. For example, the materials, but that they prefer more loaded places for light, pleasant reading. Since shelves, invariably painted a dull gray, are usually metal. Many libraries also have environmental preferences while reading are dictated by one’s ability to comprehend, floor surfaces which cause a person shuffling along them to generate a good deal recollect, and enjoy what is being read, this means that libraries should have more of static electricity. The result is that people are constantly being shocked when they loaded places for persons who are doing fun reading and less loaded places for inadvertently touch the shelves, which is a classical avoidance conditioning situation. those doing complicated reading and research. That’s the way you get people to stop doing anything; it is certainly not the way to encourage them to approach and explore a situation. An example of the incorporation of more loaded areas is to have a central patio and surrounding terraces entirely within the confines of the library. There might be a variety To encourage exploration, stacks should be as pleasant as possible. Special displays, of snack shops, comfortable lounging areas, or even places to stroll among plants which are usually set up in library lobbies where they are least needed, could be in- and where conversation is acceptable. Once a person enters the library through one corporated directly into the stacks, thus providing variety and relief from the endless or more of the checkpoints, he would be free to take whatever books he has selected row-upon-row effect. Also, stacks are often too close together, so that two people to one of these areas. He could visit these areas after periods of intense concentra- looking at opposite shelf spaces cannot both bend down to examine the contents of tion, or when he is fatigued, to increase his arousal. Such casual areas within the a low shelf without bumping into each other. When the stacks are far from the reading confines of the library would eliminate many unnecessary logistic problems. Most38 39

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