Collecting data on an unattainable topic

Before I address the obstacles I encountered not only making my first experiment but also in the topic as a whole, I want to surface something interesting. That is — is there a topic that does not have difficulties of understanding? In class the other day, we discussed how everyone knows at least a little bit about every topic, but there is some sort of difficulty that we falsely believe stands in our way. And now, the 13 of us in that class have reflected on our own topics’ difficulties of understanding. What I am trying to get at is that if all 13 of us could find the comprehensive difficulties of our 13 incredibly diverse topics, then maybe every subject has its own difficulties. There is no ‘easy’ subject matter. Or maybe the problem is that we think there are difficulties with each topic, and therefore falsely complicate it. 

Transitioning now to my own topic of architecture, I am almost scared to dive into its difficulties, because I don’t want them to discourage me! But, addressing the difficulties is also beneficial because then I will be aware of them, and when encountered, will be ready to move past them.

I think my topic  of “How Architecture Affects Our Emotions” is difficult to talk about, research, and make into a universal conversation because of it’s cognitive burden and abstract complexity. First off, we are dealing with emotions here! Are any of us even able to understand our own emotions? Sometimes we cry when we are happy, and then we will laugh when we are sad! If we can’t even make sense of our crazy emotions, how can we make sense of how non-animate objects and surroundings affect our emotions?  Thinking and reflecting on how we feel is tiring. Thinking and reflecting on how we feel and then applying it to a physical situation or environment is exhausting. Big oof.

In terms of concrete scientific research, it does not exist for my topic. Gauging emotions in response to architectural features isn’t something I can measure the weight of, or complete mathematical equations with! It is an abstract, nearly unreachable thing to study. This difficulty would align with frightening amount of effort required to understand it. It is a lot of work to conduct field research and collect data, and then, ugh, to analyze it! And yet, we, meaning architects and psychologists, try to do that and understand it. We all know that our environments are important in shaping our lives — think nature vs nurture — and that emotional responses do occur in response to specific situations. But the challenge arises in trying to record how emotions and architecture coexist. Are they a causation of each other? Are they even correlated? And that’s what I am trying to figure out.

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