I blame consistency.
Funny enough, we could each feel differently about the handle on a door. Does the “bar” mean wrap my hand and pull? Or does the “bar” mean use my palms and push?
Sometimes it’s all about creating a rule and just sticking to it. For example, let’s say a vertical bar is always pull (think refrigerator), horizontal is always push (turnstile). If everyone knew this rule for 100 years, it would become our nature and this wouldn’t be a problem.
But many doors are ornamental jewelry for the face of a building. Here’s an example I deal with daily: windshield wipers in my one car go up for on, as my other car’s goes down. Why? Aesthetic details for symmetry around the steering wheel based on the other levers and knobs. The different manufactures picked the direction based on what neighboring switches do instead of what makes sense from a muscle-memory standpoint. In fact, why do cars even continue to use big stick-levers at all? Is it solely to match the blinker lever on the other side? Why not clear buttons? My windshield wipers have 10 different combinations of settings. Why a lever? Why not mandate a 5 dollar rain sensor? Is this not a safety concern, ya know, seeing in the rain?
So back to the door… Really this is a consistency thing, there is no rule, only opinion. You’ll always have a split on users who think up versus down, push versus pull… but how do you force the correct answer?
One time discovery + consistency = expected behavior.
Or hey, automatic doors? It’s 2016. Sup Star Trek.
And FYE, check this out.