Integrating the perceptual and conceptual domains will require place scholars to engage with the theory of embodied cognition, dynamic systems, as well as multiple views of cognition and behavior. In the next section, we propose pathways through which to consider the potential relationships between these two understandings of human—environment relationships.
Future research could investigate how the qualities of both sense of place scholarship and affordance theory could be applied to solve important issues in sense of place scholarship, such as how place attachment may form and change in a given place. The dual-process theory of higher cognition could be a fertile ground through which to explore or examine the intersections between place meanings formed through socially constructed process and meanings formed through affordances, i.
According to this theory, both slow and fast forms of cognition exist Kahneman, ; Evans, ; Evans and Stanovich, Type 1 cognition is grounded in perception and intuition — thinking is fast, automatic, effortless, and associative, while Type 2 which is grounded in reasoning — thinking is slow, serial, controlled, effortful, and rule-governed.
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Type 1 generates impressions of the attributes of objects of perception and thought. In contrast, Type 2 is involved in judgments, irrespective of whether they originate in impressions or in deliberative reasoning Kahneman, While there have been a number of criticisms of dual-process theories see overview in Evans and Stanovich, , there is general acceptance that Type 1 represents a set of modes of cognition associated with rapid autonomous processes that yield habitual responses unless they are intervened on by higher order reasoning processes of Type 2 Evans and Stanovich, Within each type there are modes of cognitive processing styles or thinking dispositions Stanovich, which can vary continuously according to personality characteristics and cultural factors Evans and Stanovich, Following this view, is it possible that direct perception—action processes operate as a subset of Type 1, fast, automatic processes following Herschbach, ?
In contrast, can socially constructed process be considered a subset of Type 2, slow processes? Three research areas worth considering under this line of thought are:. For example, the fireplace a couple sits next to after getting married enables the used affordance of warmth and light, plus a cozy atmosphere.
Equally, that fireplace can be related to a diverse set of inherent, instrumental, socio-cultural, and identity—expressive meanings Williams, b , which can be positive and negative in nature Manzo, At the time of the wedding they may be related to feelings of romance and love, but if the fireplace was the backdrop for the scene of agreement to divorce it could also be associated with feelings of grief and loss, or if during a winter power outage, simply a pragmatic source of warmth or cooking.
It follows from above that direct perceptions can be repeated in behavior.
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We also propose that the relationships between direct perceptions and social construction are unlikely to be direct and linear. At small geographic scales, we hypothesize that place attachment will be a property of both immediately perceived and socially constructed place meanings, and that these meanings collectively help guide behavior. To investigate this hypothesis, a fruitful area of enquiry may be to specify physical characteristics of the environment that are perceived positively for a certain set of affordances and are known at least anecdotally to be a source of place attachment.
Starting with a set of known relationships would help researchers to identify the mechanisms through which Type 1 and Type 2 processes occur. Understanding the duration of focus of direct perception and social construction is also crucial to this line of enquiry. It is assumed that direct perception is immediate and social construction takes longer, but what are the actual time differences?
Quasi-experiments may play an important role in understanding the time differences in cognitions resulting from direct perception and social construction so as to form a more holistic understanding of place. To date we have avoided the question of how different types of place meanings inform each other at different geographic scales. Yet how do direct perception and social construction occur at coarser geographic scales such as a neighborhood, city, or region? An important future research direction is to examine whether affordances can be nested or sequenced in ways that enable us to understand direct perception at larger spatial scales.
Such research would need to challenge some of the fundamental assumptions of affordance theory concerning how humans directly perceive the environment. For example, researchers would need to consider the potential for a collection of affordances in a place, a network of places in the neighborhood, a set of familiar and unfamiliar neighborhoods in a metropolitan area, etc. We consider this question of the scalability of affordance-based thinking an exciting area of future inquiry. The previous research direction investigates whether place as a perception—action process and place as a socially constructed process exist concurrently in a given place.
But how do they relate? We propose that perceived and socially constructed meanings relate when perceived meanings become unsituated. Just thinking about an object produces states as if the object were actually there, as does perceiving a symbol, such as the name of the person or object Spackman and Yanchar, It is included in discussions of mental imagery including visual, audio, and kinesthetic imagery , working memory, episodic memory, implicit memory, and reasoning and problem-solving [see Wilson for a review].
No empirical work has tested the potential relationships between perceived and socially constructed meanings using ideas of offline cognition, but we can describe it from a practical perspective at fine geographic scales such as a room. Imagine a room in our home that we have been living in for a long time. We enter and exit that room multiple times on a daily basis and our action is guided by a range of perceptions concerning the size, light, and warmth of that room. Now imagine that we get married in that room. Through processes of social construction, that room is now associated with a range of socio-cultural meanings like love and social connection, and inherent meanings like the ambience of the room on the wedding day.
Through processes of offline cognition, these perceived meanings associated with the sights, smells, and sounds of the wedding day become engrained in memory and in language, which provides the pathway through which perceived and socially constructed meanings relate. We propose that perceived and socially constructed meanings are most likely to conjoin when memories are activated. In future studies, researchers could draw on phenomenological approaches in order to investigate the relationships between different components of living memory. While research has considered how place attachment varies with respect to length of residence, place disruption, or nostalgia, no studies have considered how the structure of place attachment may change with reference to different forms of place experiences and place meanings across the life course.
By bringing together the qualities of sense of place and affordance theories, we propose that place attachment could be considered as an emergent property of the dynamic sets of meanings associated experiences across the life course.
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By this we mean that types of perceived and socially constructed meanings formed during experiences at an early life stage e. The integration of the affordance perspective and how it relates — for example — to the changes in physical capacities associated with aging e. To establish this process, we require new mechanisms for not only examining how place as a perception—action process and socially constructed process relate at any given point in time i.
Longitudinal research is needed to establish whether and how the memories associated with given affordances earlier in life inform later experiences in the same place. Certain elements of early place experiences could also be transferrable to new settings, requiring an improved understanding of how perception—action processes and socially constructed meanings relate across time and different places.
Longitudinal research is also needed to understand how the affordances perceived in one place early in life are held in memories to inform the affordances and social constructions of other places later in life. Understanding place attachment as an emergent property of a complex system also has major implications for the assessment of the relationships between place attachment and pro-environmental behavior.
Rather, we encourage a new approach to the assessment of pro-environmental behavior which is based on non-linear, complex dynamics. Such dynamics are already the source of intense investigation through areas such as social learning Cheng and Mattor, , complexity science, and sustainability transitions Andersson, and co-production of knowledge Armitage et al. We urge a more spatial and relational view of these dynamics recognizing how individual minds and bodies and constituted within places that are both perceived and socially constructed, and how both direct perception and abstractions can lead to formation and change in behavior across places and time.
If urban settings are repositories for a range of socially constructed and perceived meanings Research Direction 1 then these settings need to be designed with both fast and slow cognitive processes in mind and thus multiple layers of place meaning. By layers we mean planning, designing, and implementing new forms of architecture in urban landscapes that cater for clusters of different types of immediately perceived and socially constructed place meanings, including functional, affective, and symbolic. These clusters could be tailored to different user groups so as to address important elements of environmental justice Raymond et al.
Stemming from Research Direction 2, it may be possible for urban environments to be designed with affordances that immediately evoke different forms of place meanings. Such urban designs may have multiple important uses for highly mobile individuals or migrants seeking to integrate into new communities rapidly. Certain types of affordances could be created in urban environments to bridge place meanings between their place of origin and their new sometimes temporary place of residence. However, we acknowledge that designing urban environments for a diversity of meanings can lead to the potential for conflicts between different interest groups, which also needs to be managed Stedman, Accepting place attachment as an emergent property Research Direction 3 requires urban planners to take account of both short-term and long-term processes of cognition when designing cities.
In this paper, we urged a systematic consideration of how both slow and fast processes of cognition inform sense of place scholarship. We asserted that sense of place scholarship has been conservative, non-dynamic, and principally focused on aspects of place meaning that unfold over time through a process of social construction.
Theory development has largely excluded the role of immediate sensory and direct perception—action processes in meaning making, otherwise referred to as immediately perceived place meanings, but instead focused on place meanings formed through longer-term processes of social construction.
In response, we suggest how affordance theory could overcome a number of blind spots in sense of place scholarship and then suggest research directions for empirically justifying how place as perception—action processes a subset of Type 1 thinking in the dual-process model and place as socially constructed processes a subset of Type 2 thinking relate to each other across place experiences and time.
Reconceptualizing sense of place as fast and slow presents opportunities to consider how immediate perceptual processes can contribute to longer-term processes of social construction and vice versa. It also paves the way to addressing one of the most contentious aspects of sense of place scholarship and wider psychology: how processes of intellectual abstraction and computation based on interactionist worldviews can be united with immediate sensory experience based on transactional worldviews to better account for not only for place meanings and place attachment, but also environmental behavior across the life course.
CR reviewed the literature and developed the key arguments for the paper, also wrote most sections of the paper with additions from MK and RS. MK provided insightful contributions to the affordance theory section of the paper, and to the future directions and management implications sections. RS provided insightful contributions regarding the argumentation and framing of the paper, and also provided key theoretical insights into sense of place, and the discussion section of the paper.
The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest. Project number: Altman, I. Stokols and I. Google Scholar. Anderson, M. Eroding the boundaries of cognition: implications of embodiment 1. Andersson, C. Complexity science and sustainability transitions. Armitage, D. Change 21, — Bailey, E. Using a narrative approach to understand place attachments and responses to power line proposals: the importance of life-place trajectories.
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