Utilization Issues in Environment-Behavior Research

  • Robert Sommer
Part of the Advances in Environment, Behavior and Design book series (AEBD, volume 4)


The implementation gap is one of the most persistent and vexing issues in environmental design research (Merrill, 1976; Reizenstein, 1975; Seidel, 1979). An editorial in the first issue of Architectural Research and Teaching (Editorial Board, 1970) declared with remarkable prescience that the implementation gap “will turn out to be surprisingly resilient and will defeat our best intentions unless its causes are analyzed and strategies planned accordingly” (p. 3). Seidel (1982) pointed out that the applications gap is not unique to environment—behavior (EB) research and has been reported in many fields. Program evaluation is subject to the same underimplementation. One study after another has found that evaluations are sporadically used to improve policy outcomes and, in some cases, are never even read (Mitchell, 1990). Exhortation, public lamentation, and scapegoating interfere with clear definition of the problem and the development of effective solutions. Instead of using defense mechanisms, we need to look at implementation as a design issue and develop solutions through systematic and focused research. As Zimbardo (1973) put it, to be seriously concerned about the effects of research requires substantial evaluation research. Follow-up can play the same role in evaluating the work of researchers that postoccupancy evaluation (POE) has in evaluating the completed designs of practitioners. The evaluation need not wait for publication, since research impact can precede publication (Archea & Margulis, 1979; Marsh & Glassick, 1988).


Research Utilization Research Impact Trade Periodical Citation Search Academic Model 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert Sommer
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of California, DavisDavisUSA

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