AIE EDAM: Artificial Intelligence for Engineering Design, Analysis, and Manufacturing

Psychological challenges for the analysis of style

a1 School of Computing, De Montfort University, Leicester, UK

Article author query
stacey m   [Google Scholar] 


Analyses of styles in design have paid little attention to how people see style and how designers use perceptions of style to guide designing. Although formal and computational methods for analyzing styles and generating designs provide impressively parsimonious accounts of what some styles are, they do not address many of the factors that influence how humans understand styles. The subtlety of human style judgments raises challenges for computational approaches to style. This paper differentiates between a range of distinct meanings of “style” and explores how designers and ordinary people learn and apply perceptual similarity classes and style concepts in different situations to interpret and create designed artifacts. A range of psychological evidence indicates that style perception is dependent on knowledge and involves the interaction of perceptual recognition of style features and explanatory inference processes that create a coherent understanding of an object as an exemplar of a style. This article concludes by outlining how formal style analyses can be used in combination with psychological research to develop a fuller understanding of style perception and creative design.

(Received August 25 2005)
(Accepted March 11 2006)

Key Words: Psychology of Design; Style.

c1 Reprint requests to: Martin Stacey, School of Computing, De Montfort University, Leicester LE1 9BH, UK. E-mail: