Architecture and Planning ETDs

Publication Date



The basic concept underlying this thesis is that architects and planners can and should utilize social science research in design. The fields of environmental design and behavioral research share interest in human behavior and the context in which it occurs. Knwoledge relating to the interaction between environment and behavior should be mutually comprehensible.

This thesis approaches this problem by developing a useful handbook for environmental designers which will enable them to read and understand research which is relevant to the design projects with which they may be involved. The thesis consists of several sections, with the actual handbook constituting the Appendix. These sections are:

1. Introduction: The Use of Social Science Research in Design.

2. Rationale. This section responds to the questions:

a. Why does the environmental designer need to use research?

b. Why does the designer need to take responsibility for understanding research rather than relying totally upon a behavioral scientist?

3. Background. This is an outline of the types of research which are relevant to the environmental designer and a discussion of the research assumptions inherent in behavioral research. The current availability of human-environment research is also discussed.

4. Assessing Interest in Research. This is a discussion of the results of a series of interviews with architects and planners concerning their use of and knowledge about research techniques.

5. Comments. This section discusses the potential usefulness of a handbook on behavioral research and appropriate distribution mechanisms for it.

6. Appendix. This section consists of the actual handbook, Demystifying Social Science Research: A Handbook for Environ­mental Designers.

The handbook assumes no prior background in research or social science and uses only elementary Algebra. It explains social science language, research methodology, and some specific statistical techniques as well as the philosophical bases which underlie much research. Sketches illustrate the handbook and frequent examples of research applications to environmental design problems are included. The chapters of the handbook are organized to lead the reader through a stepwise explanation of research concepts. The glossary contains most of the vocabulary and concepts which might be unfamiliar. Each entry in the glossary is referenced to a page in the text of the handbook on which the concept is introduced. An extensive bibliography is included.



Document Type


Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name

School of Architecture and Planning

First Committee Member (Chair)

Richard Staab Nordhaus

Second Committee Member

Patrick Hayes McNamara

Third Committee Member

Edith Ann Cherry

Included in

Architecture Commons