1. the analysis of behavior settings with the aim of predicting patterns of behavior that occur within certain settings. The focus is on the role of the physical and social elements of the setting in producing the behavior. According to behavior-setting theory, the behavior that will occur in a particular setting is largely prescribed by the roles that exist in that setting and the actions of those in such roles, irrespective of the personalities, age, gender, and other characteristics of the individuals present. In a place of worship, for example, one or more individuals have the role of leaders (the clergy), whereas a larger number of participants function as an audience (the congregation). Other factors that shape behavior are the size of the setting, the number of roles required to maintain it, its permeability (i.e., openness to outside influence or nonmembers), and the explicitness of rules and regulations relating to expected behavior there.
2. a less common name for the theoretical orientation embodied by James J. Gibson’s concepts of ecological perception and direct perception.