Room decor ideas

The Psychology Analogy

The emergence of psychology as a legitimate science distinct from physiology, biology, and medicine offers a precedent for interiors as a unique design discipline based on a unique body of knowledge. In other words, interiors are to the built environment what psychology is to science, an analogy that can be demonstrated on three levels:

1. As a discipline

Interior design, like psychology, complements an established area of scholarship (for instance, the various sciences and disciplines that explore the built environment) but ultimately compri-

The notion of “interior or “inside is not restricted to the commonly understood room. Atria, town squares, and piazzas are large public spaces that require careful “interior and design considerations as the illustrations on these pages demonstrate.


Master room of a Pullman railroad car, 1939.


Interior of a Boeing 377, Walter Dorwin Teague, 1949. Many interiors, including those of a railroad car or an airplane, involve the creation of a space for human occupation where the exterior form has already been determined and cannot be altered by designed interior. Although the work of industrial designers, these two images illustrate the familiar residential quality of these interiors which are (perhaps incongruently] housed within high-speed transportation systems ses an independent area of practice. Psychology deals with mental and behavioral health, and goes beyond biology and physical medicine in accounting for their effect on the body; interior design addresses the qualities of human experience (security, comfort, and well-being) in the built environment as no other design discipline can.21

2. As a science

Psychology offers a rigorous, empirical methodology to explain the mysteries of cognition. It is critical for designers to develop similar and equally empirical protocols pertaining to the interior. Psychology created a science of the mind; interior design must create a science of human experience in the built environment. In both cases, scientific methodology allows for the understanding of mental processes where none was previously thought possible.

3. As an understanding of the human being

Finally, both psychology and interior design have created a means of understanding the human being outside the parochial boundaries of established disciplines. Just as psychology now informs our perception of human behavior, a science of interior space will influence our view of all human interactions in the built environment.

Though psychology is the study of the mind (its first use in English meant “knowledge of the soul22), its modern connotation encompasses the relationship between the mind and the body, defined in the Oxford English Dictionary as follows:

The scientific study of the nature, functioning, and development of the human mind, including the faculties of reason.

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