In reference to the study of environment-behavior or for determinism in the context of environment, the author points out that three major areas are of importance. These are the built environment, the natural environment and the environmental factors which constitute factors such as social stimuli. However, in this paper, the two major factors that have been considered are Geographical determinism and Architectural determinism. According to the author, since geographical determinism refers to the natural environment whereas architectural determinism gives primacy to the built environment, when taken together these two are the best representatives of the phrase “physical determinism”. This article focuses on the fact that the philosophy of physical determinism has a lot of inherent weaknesses and due to this fact, many researchers stay clear of this subject due to a fear that any subsequent research is also going to be marred with the same weaknesses. The importance of the Physical environment: To begin with, Franck points out that the believers of geographical and architectural determinism are criticized because they are too literal in their belief of the fact that that environment has a direct effect on behavior. This stems from the fact that a lot of exaggerated stress has been laid by researchers on the idea that the physical environment has more impact on behavior than any other factors such as sociological factors. According to the author this criticism leveled at geographers and architects for being physical determinists has lead to the lack of research and development of theoretical frameworks that could generate further material for debate on the importance of physical determinism. The article points out that the right way to go forward for researchers would be to focus on the view that the physical environment is the sole factor influencing behavior and then work towards determining in which ways and conditions the behavior is effected. Indirect Effects of the Physical Environment: Another criticism leveled at the determinist perspective in environment-behavior research is that there is a lack of clearly defined and measured intervening variables in the environment-behavior relationship. The lack of an intervening variable would, thus mean that the researchers are conferring or implying that the physical environment has a direct or unmediated effect on behavior in all situations or instances. Researchers such as Brody (1972) and Lang (1980) have been criticized due to this and there is a need to quantify the intervening variable that simply put explain why a proposed environmental feature or event effects behavior in a particular way. Since an intervening variable would therefore be considered both a result of the environmental feature being considered as well as the determinant of the resulting behavior, it would imply that physical environment is in most instances an indirect effect. The author says that researchers need to put effort into presenting clearly defined intervening variables that would help in the further advancement of this field of study. The Choices that People Make: A major criticism of the physical determinist approach has been that the researchers of environment-behavior research do not give enough importance to the fact that certain people may not react to a certain
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In “Exorcising the ghost of Physical Determinism”, Karen A. Franck has shed light on the major weaknesses of the physical determinist perspective and discusses the so-called “fear” of determinism that has proved to be a limiting factor that is preventing modern researchers from carrying on empirical studies that acknowledge and discuss the role of the physical environment in environment-behavior study…
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