Planning With Half a Mind; Why Planners Resist Emotion

Many planners ignore people’s emotions when they analyse social problems, and as a result planners often get things wrong, according to ‘Planning Theory & Practice,’ published by Taylor & Francis.’

Planners aim to change how people act including where they live, locate a business, send children to school, with whom, how, and where they travel, and where and on what they spend money.

Planning successfully depends on understanding what motivates people. However most planners continue to ignore how people think and act emotionally, despite social sciences and other professions waking up to the power of emotions as they recognise their influence on how people act. In the article, ‘Planning with half a mind: Why planners resist emotion’ published in Planning Theory & Practice, Howell Baum indicates that the few planners who recognise emotional concerns are more successful than the planners who ignore them.

So, if emotions matter, why do planners ignore them?

Historically, planners gained authority for their profession by claiming to solve problems rationally, without giving any attention to residents’ emotions or their own. As a result, planners who identify with the profession must ignore emotions if they want authority. Crucially, the reason society values planners’ claim to ignore emotions and gives them authority for doing so comes from the culture of the Enlightenment, which regards emotion as a threat to reason and encourages people to pretend they have no emotions. Baum posits that by its very nature, planning as a profession will always resist thinking about emotions, resulting in unrealistic and ineffective planning.

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