Perception and Evaluation of Buildings: The Effects of Style and Frequency of Exposure

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Articlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


The perception and evaluation of environmental and architectural spaces is an important concern of environmental psychology. Various environments ranging in scope from landscapes to room interiors have been studied, but old buildings have seldom been studied. As historical buildings make way for modern buildings, preservation of historic buildings has often been a hot issue. Proponents for preservation argue for the beauty, harmony and character of these buildings and that people derive satisfaction from them. This study examined the perception and evaluation of old-style buildings (constructed in late 18th to early 19th century) and modern-style buildings on three dimensions: aesthetic evaluation, organization, and friendliness. In addition, the effect of frequency of exposure on the ratings of these buildings as stimuli was studied. Two hundred and thirty-six university students rated each of the three old-style and three modern-style buildings on a set of fifteen bipolar adjectives scales. The frequency of exposure of each building was manipulated within subject. Repeated-measures analyses of variance revealed significant differences between the ratings. The modern-style buildings were evaluated as more aesthetically appealing and perceived as less organized and more complex than the old-style buildings. The effect of frequency of exposure was significant on the aesthetic evaluation dimension only. The relationship was in the form of an inverted U-shape function. However, no interaction effect was found. The results could be explained by Berlyne's hypothesis (1960, 1970) and Zajonc's mere exposure hypothesis (1968). Although the study was conducted in the 1980s, the psychological effects of perception and evaluation may remain the same. Given the scarcity and paucity of research on heritage buildings in the discipline of psychology, this paper reviews current research literature in the subject area, discusses if and to what extent the results still hold true, and proposes a way forward.

Original languageEnglish
Article number44
JournalCollabra: Psychology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 17 Aug. 2020


  • Old-style building
  • frequency of exposure
  • modern-style building
  • perception and evaluation of buildings


Dive into the research topics of 'Perception and Evaluation of Buildings: The Effects of Style and Frequency of Exposure'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this