A study of the perception of unattractive townscapes

Masters thesis

Thompson, G. 1984. A study of the perception of unattractive townscapes. Masters thesis Middlesex Polytechnic Department of Geography
TypeMasters thesis
TitleA study of the perception of unattractive townscapes
AuthorsThompson, G.

This study examines urban unattractiveness with the aim of developing a better understanding of why some features of the urban melieu are considered more or less unattractive than others. It redirects the focus of research attention from the study of elitist perceptions of highly prized attractive landscapes to the average urban resident's perception of the least attractive face of the everyday urban environment. Initially the investigation tests for a consensus of agreement on what is unattractive in the towns cape then measures the effect of locational, social, economic, temporal, environmental and attitudinal variables on the assessment of unattractive townscape views.
A preference test and questionnaire survey are carried out on a randomly selected sample of two hundred and forty working-class residents of Rotherham and Slough. All possible paired combinations of ten photographs depicting unattractive views of the towns are presented; the views were identified as 'unattractive' by local residents in a pilot survey. The resulting preference selections, analysed by Carroll and Chang's MDPREF multidimensional scaling programme, prove conclusively that a consensus of agreement exists among all respondents on the three most and least unattractive views. Respondent's town of residence, sex and age are seen to influence the strength of this consensus. Interpretation of respondents' explanations for preference selections and the stimuli clusters portrayed in the MDPREF configuration diagrams leads to the conclusion that 'economic function' (useful/viable versus useless/derelict dimension), 'condition' and 'style' are important and commonly used criteria in the evaluation of unattractive townscapes. The quality of the urban experience could be significantly improved if a greater effort is made to reduce and avoid replicating those types of unattractive urban features identified by this study.

Department nameDepartment of Geography
Institution nameMiddlesex Polytechnic
Publication dates
Print28 Jan 2015
Publication process dates
Deposited28 Jan 2015
CompletedDec 1984
Output statusPublished
Accepted author manuscript
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