The effect of consistency between type and style on evaluative responses to mosques and non-religious buildings

Natheer Abu-Obeid, Anwar Ibrahim, Khaled Al-Sallal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


This paper adopts the concept of schema as a framework within which architectural style, building type, and cultural association interact as a system of environmental experience. Any discrepancy in this system of experience is considered a form of inconsistency in the mental schema. This study considers the schema of religious building as a specific case for investigation. It is argued that inconsistency in the schema of a religious building will evoke salient responses from perceivers, especially those with a religious association with the building. The study specifically investigated the effect of consistency between architectural style and building type on Jordanians' views of mosques, as well as the possibility of revealing potential differences between Christian and Muslim Jordanians in judging typicality (consistency) and contradiction (inconsistency) between style and type in mosques. Two hundred and thirty-six university students (Christians and Muslims) participated in an experiment in which they rated architectural examples, including mosques and non-religious buildings, using a semantic differential scale. Factor analysis was then used which identified four semantic factors: “Evaluative Character,” “Novelty,” “Sophistication,” and “Ceremony.” These factors were used as latent variables in an analysis of variance. The results indicated that regardless of their religious background, participants rated typicality cases higher than schema contradiction cases in terms of Evaluative Character, Sophistication, and Ceremony, but lower in Novelty. They also rated mosque style higher in Ceremony but lower in Novelty relative to the other styles. The concepts of “social world” and “archetypes of religious structures” are considered as possible alternatives to justify the similarities between the two religious groups in judging mosques. It is argued that the results generally support Purcell's schema discrepancy theory.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)153-164
Number of pages12
JournalArchitectural Science Review
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2008


  • Architectural style
  • Environmental perception
  • Mosques
  • Religious buildings
  • Schema discrepancy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Architecture


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