The Office Holiday Party: An Introduction to Behavior Settings
Season’s greetings everyone! If you do not live under a rock this holiday season, then you may have gone to at least one holiday party. ‘Tis the season, after all!
In fact, Spacesmith and Davis Brody Bond had their holiday party this past Friday. After that holiday party, I had three more to go to in the same weekend. As I planned my holiday party strategy, I began to think about the strangeness of it all. Once a year, we’re all expected to come together and participate in the same festivities.
Going through the usual holiday party motions made me see a pattern. Most of us participate in a holiday ritual in one form or another. Little do most people know that these celebrations are a phenomenon known as a behavior setting.
I became familiar with the behavior setting theory while I was studying for my latest Architect Registration Exam which was focused on programming and planning. Behavior settings “are theorized entities that help explain the relationship between individuals and the environment” and, as an architect, it is crucial to understand how to design for a variety of behavior settings.
Behavior setting theoretical framework was first developed by social scientist Roger Barker in the 1940s. According to Barker, there are eleven different attributes that make any one behavior setting unique:
1. Occurrence - the number of days in a year the behavior setting is capable of occurring
2. Duration - how long the setting typically lasts
3. Population - amount of participants
4. Occupancy Time - the number of person-hours spent in the behavior setting
5. Penetration - the degree to which an inhabitant is involved in the setting
6. Action Patterns - functional attributes of the patterns of behavior
7. Behavior Mechanisms - the modalities through which behavior is implemented in the setting, such as gross motor activity, talking, or thinking
8. Richness - composite measure of the variety of behavior within the setting
9. Pressure - the degree to which external forces act upon a person to approach/enter or avoid/withdraw from the setting
10. Welfare - relevance of the setting to a particular group of inhabitant
11. Local Autonomy - the geographic level at which the setting’s operations are determined
In simple terms, what makes a behavior setting is an action, a place, and recognition that the setting is occurring. Once learning about what goes into a behavior setting, I began to see them everywhere. In fact, it can be a fun game to see how social science can creep into our everyday lives. What behavior settings will you encounter in the new year?