Encyclopaedia Panoptica

Instinctual Perception and Association in Design

Within perceptual psychology, it is often attractive to posit a set of "instinctual" reactions to patterns (elements, environments, and combinations of these). Problems occur when we attempt to define just which reactions are "instinctual," and which learned. The "Nature-nurture" debate tends to be a tug-of-war where instinctualists claim a reaction as instinctual and environmentalists work to demonstrate that it is a learned response based on lower-level experiences in the individual's life.

For those uninterested in the theoretical question of which reaction is learned and which instinctual, the resolution to the problem is often arbitrary categorisation into reactions common to most of humanity, and those dependent on some experience in the individual's life. For the designer this allows the prediction of the universal or specific appeal of a design, and thus allows them to alter the design to achieve a desired effect. It is also traditional to further subdivide the experiential category, though the subdivisions are not standardised.

The origins and nature of associations and patterns termed instincts are generally survival-oriented, or alterations, and redirections of survival-oriented impulses.

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Copyright (c) 1997 -- Mike Fletcher
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