Re: Re: The Irish Town – Dying At The Crossroads?

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A famous paper written about decision making and the framing of the options was published:

The Framing of Decisions and the Psychology of Choice.
Amos Tversky; Daniel Kahneman.
Science, New Series, Vol. 211, No. 4481. (Jan. 30, 1981),

It is available to download if you search. Or check out the wikipedia pages available on the subject.

I feel certain, the research ideas of Tversky and Kahneman have some relevance to how things are approached at local level in our town planning. This brings me back again to the issue of high level research, or the lack of it done by architects. Even if they could be incentivised in some way to study research, the profession would be much better off. I know the research is very dull, but given time it might spark something.

Going on what Prof. Clayton Christensen at Harvard said, architects might be a lot better off ‘framing’ some problems as a threat, in the initial stages of the resource allocation process. Once you have got some allocation of resources, then you can slowly begin to involve people and hopefully they will see more of the opportunity side. But I do see something fundamentally flawed in the way architects constantly frame their ideas as opportunities.

The locals go along to an exhibition and think, this is all very nice, but what are the really urgent problems that need to be addressed? Shouldn’t we allocate our limited resources more in that direction? It seems that engineers and politicians who frame things as a threat have a much easier task of getting funding. If you don’t upgrade the road to this town, then it cannot survive. Etc, etc. When people see a big new road project, they feel as if they are getting something tangible and that the place is engaged in some kind of progress.

The ‘low carbon city’ phenomenon is an example of the Tversky and Kahneman approach. Where something is framed initially as a threat. What is our town going to do to prevent global warming? Most of the large Irish towns are now doing something in this regard. They got geared up very quickly too. In fact, whole regions are becoming organised towards a green-er future. In the process of becoming organised to do something about the perceived threat, along the way, the opportunity to do other things is seized. But we can extract this methodology from the ‘low carbon society’ phenomenon. It can be used by Architects in all kinds of ways to boot strap themselves into a closer involvement and working relationship at local levels.

Brian O’ Hanlon

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