Examining Space Perceptions. Combining Visual and Verbal Data with Reactive and Non-Reactive Methods in Studies of the Elderly and Library Users
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Space is characterised by both its material and its social aspects. To examine space perceptions in this holistic understanding it is crucial to combine verbal with visual data and reactive with non-reactive methods, because not every perception is verbally expressible. The article starts illustrating a socio-spatial-material concept of space. Based on this it will be displayed how a triangulative research design with visual interview stimuli, participant observation, mental maps, photo do-cumentation, and architectural analysis can enable to get new insights into spatial perceptions. This will be shown by outlining two specific research projects, the first focuses on the space experience and imaginations of elderly people, the second on space perceptions of library users. The projects with their approaches and results clarify the impact of the triangulation of visual data and non-reactive methods in the exploration of spatial perception. Furthermore, the contribution of every kind of method will be shown in the discussion of the results and unexpected findings. Finally, the article reveals in a broader context that it is important to combine text-based and visual methods, not only for the collection of data but for the presentation of research results as well.