John A. Call

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




For mare than two decades Roger Barker, Herbert Wright and their associates have been concerned with the habitat, related structural prop erties, and content of human behavior. From their investigations stemmed Barker's theories concerning the subjective and behavioral effects of the greater inherent "claim," or demand for superior occupant performance. This "claim" is hypothesized to be experienced more often in the under manned behavior setting as opposed to the optimally manned behavior set ting. Recently, however, Allan W. Wicker has criticized much of this early research. Wicker concluded that future experimentation dealing with behavior settings would need more precise definitions of level of manning as well as more laboratory experimentation. Only with these two requirements met, Wicker stated, could one be able to manipulate operationally the number of setting inhabitants so as to effectively measure the consequences of manning conditions vis a vis the observable behaviors and experiences of the setting occupants.

The present research has attempted to incorporate these recom mendations. An artificial behavior setting was developed in which it was possible to operationally determine the number of setting personnel, producing either an undermanned, adequately manned, or overmanned set ting situation. Eighteen groups of subjects (six undermanned, six ade quately manned, and six overmanned groups) had a two week experience with the artificial behavior setting. At the end of that time each one of the subjects completed an interview questionnaire dealing with their perceptions of their setting experiences.

Employing Barker's and Wicker's conceptualization of the use and effects of maintenance mechanisms it was hypothesized that the inhabi tants of both the undermanned and overmanned settings, as opposed to the occupants of the adequately manned settings, would perceive their setting conditions to be disruptive and potentially harmful and, as a consequence, would engage in more, more varied, and stronger mainte nance actions. In addition, it was believed that the inhabitants of the two inadequately manned situations would also differ between them selves in the type of maintenance actions employed, with the occupants of the undermanned settings using chiefly deviation-countering mainte nance mechanisms, and the occupants of the overmanned setting employing principally vetoing maintenance mechanisms.

It was found, however, that group experience in differently manned behavior settings was much more complex and involved than orig inally believed. The results made it evident that setting inhabitants' initial level of setting commitment combined with the effects of a group's level of manning to produce varying outcomes within as x?ell as between each manning level. And, perhaps more fundamentally, the results revealed the inadequacy of current maintenance mechanism con ceptualization to correctly predict and explain behavior setting expe rience. In conclusion it was suggested that a better understanding of behavior setting experience might be gained by classifying maintenance mechanisms in terms of both process and focus, thus leading to four basic types of maintenance actions: (1) setting object deviation countering, (2) setting object vetoing, (3) setting personnel deviation countering, and (4) setting personnel vetoing.