Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


It is believed that search constitutes an important cognitive process. Substantial research has enhanced our elemental understanding of this area of enquiry. This notwithstanding, the process of search remains little understood.;This thesis investigates the residential search behaviour of a sample of individuals who were in the process of relocating within the rental housing sector. The purpose of the study is severalfold. Firstly, it explores the distinctiveness of renter search behaviour. Secondly, it is an investigation into the links between cognition and overt behaviour. Thirdly, it describes groupings of like-minded individuals within the renter sector. Finally, it reveals how renters construe housing submarkets and, accordingly, it demonstrates the spatial effect of this construed structure on renter search.;Individuals form mental schemata to order and give meaning to their environment. Based on this assumption, a model is adopted which emphasises three aspects of cognitive behaviour: the process of housing search, the orientation and flexibility of mental schemata as revealed through personal constructs, and overt spatial behaviour. The model provides a conceptual framework for the empirical design of the thesis.;It is revealed that renters' search processes comprise at least two separate behaviours: passive and active search. The analyses support the contention that individuals utilise a set of fairly general, discriminatory constructs when they are required to evaluate vacancies off-site during passive search. These constructs determine a region of potential residential occupancy, and effect limited search. Active search constitutes a functionally discrete behaviour. At this stage, the individual uses a set of specific constructs in order to evaluate differences among housing opportunities and to select between alternatives. It is at this stage that the distinctiveness of rental housing search becomes apparent.;Groupings of like-minded individuals are differentiated on the basis of the housing attributes that they use to evaluate housing vacancies. This analysis is only partially successful. Intra-group commonalities are obscured by the rich individualistic, and idiosyncratic, data. However, by focusing on some very general hypothesised spatial patterns, several distinctive renter groups are identified. Some support is forwarded for an association between choice of housing and life-style. Furthermore, some evidence is garnered for the existence of substantial links between movers' spatial schemata, their overt search behaviour, and the structure of an housing submarket.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.