There are several different ways in which this idea can be investigated in order to gain a better understanding of how people react to different kinds of spaces and the impact this in turn can have on their emotions and personality. Personality, Values and Motivation by Laura Parks and Russell P. Guay looked into how a special environment impacts our personalities, this in turn can also have an impact on our values and motivation. This is closely linked with the investigation of cathedral design as people with different morals and values will view the spaces differently. In ‘Art, Community and Environment: Educational Perspectives edited by Glen Coutts and Timo Jokela’ research was undertaken into environments on a much larger scale, for example the arctic or the desert and how this idea of surroundings and experience can impact our emotions and communicates different ideas through the natural design. Both these journals and books were secondary research which plays a very important part in researching into what others have found out. For this investigation there are several different forms of primary research that can be used to work out the strength of the idea of a space having an effect on our emotions and character.
Observation of people would play a very important role. A lot can be told from going into an unknown environment and watching how people react to the space. Keeping a log of what is noticed; different unwritten rules, regulations and etiquettes that take place within the space can be very interesting, providing a greater insight into the design of the building and the reactions to it. For this investigation I would visit two or more very different cathedrals and see the comparisons and contrasts of the buildings as well as looking into the similarities and differences of how the people visiting these spaces react to the different styles or architecture and design. Watching peoples body language, if they look comfortable in the space, what areas do they spend more time in? Do they sit down or walk around? Are they on their own or with others? Do they look like a tourist on their first visit to the cathedral or someone who visits it regularly for religious reasons? Some of these would be based on personal judgement and therefore may not give the correct results careful consideration would have to be taken, or another style of research would have to be used alongside this idea of observing people in order to give a full understanding and significant results.
As cathedrals are designed to have a very personal impact on a person I feel that they are a suitable style of building to investigate. It would also be interesting to speak to the people visiting in order to find out if they are religious or not, or the purpose of their visit? Is it purely for religious experience or is it due to the style or the building or the history of the cathedral and its impact on the city in the past? Obviously this can be a very personal thing and not everyone would be willing to share their religious views or thoughts. This therefore means that careful wording of the questions, or not asking direct questions about their religion etc would be the best method. From previous experience of interviewing, it is important to get a wide variety of people, from different backgrounds, different sex and different ages, whilst taking all these factors into consideration in the results also. The place in which people are situated when interviewing appeared to have a considerable impact on the results of the interviews and so this is something I feel is important when interviewing. I found that people were more comfortable talking when I could see what they were talking about, it also gave me a better idea of what they were describing and so providing more accurate results. This idea of being able to see what the interviewee is explaining interlinks with the visual side of investigation and research.
Another method that could be useful in gaining primary research would be to show people photos of the different cathedrals or spaces and look into their thoughts and feelings. From experience the method of not asking direct questions about what they see, but to get them to write a story about it showed their reaction and so this method could be used. It gives a more descriptive idea on the person, without making them feel intruded. The photos that are chosen to show the candidate would have to be done so carefully in order to achieve the results wanted. Again, their background, sex, age etc are factors that could impact the results and so need to be accounted for.
It is clear that all the above styles of research are all of value and work together to gain a full understanding of the investigation and primary research methods. If I was to carry this research out I would definitely use the observation and interview techniques with the possibility of also using the visual, photo idea to gain a greater depth and variety to the results of looking into how a person can be impacted and their emotional reaction to a powerful interior space.
liverpool metropolitan cathedral
Parks, Laura & Guay, Russell P, 2009, ‘Personality, values, and motivation’, Personality and Individual Differences, vol. 47, no. 7, pp. 675-684, Nov 2009