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Beasley and Danesi study the manners in which advertisers use suggestion and imagery to establish a relationship between consumers and products (Beasley & Danesi 2002). In the picture of the two buildings, one historic and the other modern, using the Beasley and Danesi theory the architecture of the buildings will affect how people view them. It is likely that people who place a high value on technology in education will probably associate positive feelings with the modern building. The large windows and transparent architecture suggest that the institution probably houses all the latest technological instruments. In contrast, people that value a formal or traditional education may associate positive feelings with the historic building. The older architecture may conjure imagery of prestigious institutions with established histories and vast experience in education; some people associate trust and quality with older more traditional institutions.

Malcolm Barnard suggests that graphic designs can represent symbolism of race, culture, and socio-economic status (Barnard 2005); it is possible that architectural design, the location of a building, and its outward appearance can also provide some insight into demographical information. In the same way that Beasley and Danesi suggest that imagery may color the manner in which people relate to inanimate objects, a person’s cultural, racial and socio-economic experiences may also affect a person’s visual interpretations. The concept of classifying images is not new, visual artists like Michael Beaumont shaped the manner in which people interpreted his art through selective imagery (Michael Beaumont, 1987).; and the art historian Arthur Berger explored the concept of the psychological and technical aspects of human relation to art (Arthur Berger, 1989).

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Today, most people are aware that stratification and inequity exists in our society. In some instances, these unfortunate characteristics of our society will determine how images are categorized. For instance, people who have lived in low-income neighborhoods, and were mostly educated in older schools with outdated supplies may relate negatively to an educational institution that has an older architecture and structure; they may associate this type of structure with people that are less fortunate. In contrast, people that have enjoyed a higher socio-economic status and were used to being educated using newer technology in newer schools may react positively to modern buildings and associate them with affluent surroundings.

Jim Black suggests that as educational institutions compete for the opportunity to provide an education for students, they have to be more conscious of marketing activities and brand. In the same way that companies and global conglomerates use marketing tools and imagery to sell their products, educational institutions are using imagery to attract the attention of potential customers (Jim Black, 2008).

Environmental psychologists, who study the importance of architecture on human behavior, argue that poorly built physical lead to poor human behaviors (Rydeen, Erickson & Lange 2008). Research suggests that architecture can affect a person’s mood and productivity; congested offices can lead to poor productivity, and offices with less congestion promote effectiveness and positive performance behaviors (Rydeen, Erickson & Lange 2008). Large window size, good lighting and ventilation systems have been shown to positively affect work performance. For decades, environmental psychologists and employers have worked together to build structures that improve productivity among employees. Employers understand that the architecture of a building can affect the overall physical and mental health of an employee; studies have shown that offices that do not have proper lighting are more likely to have employees that suffer from depression and stress behaviors (Rydeen, Erickson & Lange 2008). Environmental psychologists suggest that noise pollution and waste material in a building has also been shown to lower productivity and increase incidences of disease; data shows that employees have a hard time working in a building where noise pollution exists.

The relationship between architecture and human behavior is not a new concept; social scientists have been exploring these concepts for over thirty years. In 1979, the social scientist Gary Moore suggested that architecture had humanizing effects; he hypothesized that architectural design could make humans feel more valued and more alive (Gary T. Moore 1979). In one of his studies, Moore examined how housing designs that promoted independence and comfortable for the elderly helped them feel more independent and secure (Gary T. Moore 1979). Moore’s study does not suggest that the administration of the two buildings in the pictures should redesign their buildings to relate more positively with possible consumers, but they should be mindful of their brand and find creative ways to appeal to potential students.

  • Barnard, M. (2005). Graphic Design as Communication. London: Rourledge.
  • Beasley, R. and M. Danesi (2002). Persuasive Signs: The Semiotics of Advertising. New York: Mouton de Gruyter.
  • Beaumont, M. (1987) Type & Colour. London : Phaidon.
  • Berger, A. (1989) Seeing is Believing: an introduction to Visual Communication. Mountain View, CA: Mayfield.
  • Black, Jim. (2008) The Branding of Higher Education. Greensboro, NC: SEM Works
  • Moore, G. (1979) Architecture and Human Behavior: the place of Environment in Human Behavior Studies in Architecture. Wisconsin
  • Rydeen, J., Erickson, P. and Lange, J (2008). Built for Brains. Industrial Engineer: IE, 40(3), 32.


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