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S. Kaplan suggested that one outcome of mental fatigue may be an increased propensity for outbursts of anger and even violence. If so, contact with nature, which appears to mitigate mental fatigue, may reduce aggression and violence. This study investigated that possibility in a setting and population with relatively high rates of aggression: inner-city urban public housing residents. Levels of aggression were compared for 145 urban public housing residents randomly assigned to buildings with varying levels of nearby nature (trees and grass). Attentional functioning was assessed as an index of mental fatigue. Residents living in relatively barren buildings reported more aggression and violence than did their counterparts in greener buildings. Moreover, levels of mental fatigue were higher in barren buildings, and aggression accompanied mental fatigue. Tests for the proposed mechanism and for alternative mechanisms indicated that the relationship between nearby nature and aggression was fully mediated through attentional functioning.
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ENVIRONMENT AND BEHAVIOR / July 2001Kuo, Sullivan / AGGRESSION AND VIOLENCE
AGGRESSION AND VIOLENCE
IN THE INNER CITY
Effects of Environment via
Mental Fatigue
FRANCES E. KUO is an assistant professor at the University of Illinois, Urbana-
Champaign. Her research examines effects of the environment on healthy human
functioning in individuals, families, and communities.
WILLIAM C. SULLIVAN is an associate professor at the University of Illinois,
Urbana-Champaign. His research focuses on the psychological and social benefits of
urban nature and citizen participation in environmental decision making.
ABSTRACT: S. Kaplan suggested that one outcome of mental fatigue may be an
increased propensity for outbursts of anger and even violence. If so, contact with
nature, which appears to mitigate mental fatigue, may reduce aggression and vio-
lence. This study investigated that possibility in a setting and population with rela-
tively high rates of aggression: inner-city urban public housing residents. Levels of
aggression were compared for 145 urban public housing residents randomly assigned
to buildings with varying levels of nearby nature (trees and grass). Attentional func-
tioning was assessed as an index of mental fatigue. Residents living in relatively bar
-
ren buildings reported more aggression and violence than did their counterparts in
greener buildings. Moreover, levels of mental fatigue were higher in barren buildings,
and aggression accompanied mental fatigue. Tests for the proposed mechanism and
for alternative mechanisms indicated that the relationship between nearby nature and
aggression was fully mediated through attentional functioning.
The power of the physical environment to influence human aggression is
well established. Crowding, high temperatures, and noise have all been
linked to aggression and violence (Baker, 1984; Baum & Koman, 1976;
Donnerstein & Wilson, 1976; Rule, Taylor, & Dobbs, 1987). Each of these
features of the physical environment has been associated with heightened
levels of aggression; are there features of the physical environment that work
to diminish levels of aggression and violence? This study examines whether
543
ENVIRONMENT AND BEHAVIOR, Vol. 33 No. 4, July 2001 543-571
© 2001 Sage Publications
natural elements such as trees and grass can decrease aggression. In addition,
it tests a potential mechanism by which natural features—and by extension
other environmental features—may affect aggression. In doing so, it sug
-
gests a new role for environment and behavior research in an important public
policy domain—addressing aggression and violence in inner cities—and
contributes possible new insight into the psychological factors underlying
human aggression.
There are hints in the literature that exposure to nearby nature, for
instance, a garden or a grassy area with trees, may reduce aggression. For
instance, violent assaults by Alzheimer patients were compared during two
consecutive summers in five long-term care facilities, two in which exterior
gardens were installed and three without gardens (Mooney & Nicell, 1992).
In Alzheimer patients, increases in the number of aggressive assaults each
year are typical as a consequence of the progressive deterioration of cognitive
processes; and indeed, in the facilities without gardens, the incidence of vio
-
lent assaults increased dramatically. By contrast, in the other facilities, the
incidence of violent assaults stayed the same or decreased slightly after gar-
dens were installed. More recently in another study, some subsets of prison
inmates reported less hostility after participating in a gardening project than
before, although these findings were not consistent across different analyses
(Rice & Remy, 1998).
Why might we expect the findings from these two studies to reflect a more
general, systematic phenomenon? By what mechanism might exposure to
nearby nature leave individuals in a less aggressive state? Here, we review
544 ENVIRONMENT AND BEHAVIOR / July 2001
AUTHORS’ NOTE: A portion of these findings was presented in invited testimony to
the National Urban and Community Forestry Advisory Council (NUCFAC) and at the
27th International Conference of the Environmental Design Research Association,
Salt Lake City, Utah, May 1996. The data for this study were drawn from the Coping
With Poverty archive, a multistudy research effort supported by a grant from NUCFAC
(F. E. Kuo and W. C. Sullivan, principal investigators). This work was also supported
by the Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service, U.S. Depart
-
ment of Agriculture, under Project No. ILLU-65-0387. Thanks go to Rebekah Coley
for training and supervising resident interviewers, Esther Davis and Doris Gayles for
recruiting and interviewing participants, the Robert Taylor Homes residents for their
participation, and the management of the Chicago Housing Authority for their as
-
sistance throughout. Ann Schlosser suggested the Conflict Tactics Scale and made
many contributions during the early stages of this project. Correspondence concern
-
ing this article should be addressed to Frances E. Kuo, Human-Environment Re
-
search Laboratory, University of Illinois, 1103 S. Dorner, Urbana, IL 61801; e-mail:
f-kuo@uiuc.edu.
theory and evidence suggesting first that natural settings assist in recovery
from mental fatigue and second that aggression may increase with mental
fatigue and decrease with its recovery. We then present an analysis suggest
-
ing that residents of disadvantaged inner-city neighborhoods may be subject
to chronic mental fatigue. Finally, we test the possibility that, in an urban
public housing community, the presence of trees and grass lowers the inci
-
dence of aggressive and violent behavior among residents living nearby.
NATURE AND MENTAL FATIGUE
Attention restoration theory (S. Kaplan, 1995) proposes that exposure to
nature reduces mental fatigue, or more precisely, directed attention fatigue.
S. Kaplan (1995) noted that many settings, stimuli, and tasks in modern life
draw on the capacity to deliberately direct attention or pay attention. The
information-processing demands of everyday life—traffic, phones, conver
-
sations, problems at work, and complex decisions—all take their toll, result-
ing in mental fatigue, a state characterized by inattentiveness, irritability, and
impulsivity. In contrast, natural settings and stimuli such as landscapes and
animals seem to effortlessly engage our attention, allowing us to attend with-
out paying attention. For this and a number of other reasons, S. Kaplan sug-
gested, contact with nature provides a respite from deliberately directing
one’s attention.
Indeed, there is growing empirical evidence of the attentionally restor-
ative effects of natural settings. Evidence of cognitively rejuvenating effects
comes from a variety of “natural” settings, including wilderness areas
(Hartig, Mang, & Evans, 1991; R. Kaplan, 1984), prairies (Miles, Sullivan, &
Kuo, 1998), community parks (Canin, 1991; Cimprich, 1993), views of
nature through windows (Ovitt, 1996; Tennessen & Cimprich, 1995), and
even rooms with interior plants (Lohr, Pearson-Mims, & Goodwin, 1996).
Moreover, these studies have demonstrated links between contact with nature
and more effective attentional functioning in a variety of populations—AIDS
caregivers, cancer patients, college students, prairie restoration volunteers,
participants in a wilderness program, and employees of large organizations.
MENTAL FATIGUE AND AGGRESSION
If contact with nature is attentionally restorative, how then might
attentional restoration mitigate aggression? S. Kaplan (1987) suggested that
one of the costs of mental fatigue might be a heightened propensity for “out
-
bursts of anger and potentially . . . violence” (p. 57). The following analysis
Kuo, Sullivan / AGGRESSION AND VIOLENCE 545
shows how each of three symptoms of mental fatigue might contribute to
aggression.
First, mental fatigue may contribute to aggression because of its effects on
cognitive processing. A common theme in some recent theories of aggression
is that information processing plays a central role in managing social situa
-
tions, especially potential conflicts (e.g., Crick & Dodge, 1994; Dodge &
Crick, 1990; Dodge & Schwartz, 1997; Martinko & Zellars, 1998). For
example, Dodge and Crick (1990) proposed that a child’s behavioral
response to a social stimulus is a function of the following five steps of infor
-
mation processing: encoding of social cues, interpretation of social cues,
response search, response evaluation, and enactment. The proposal here is
that in problematic social situations, relatively automatic, effortless cognitive
processing (e.g., “Bob took my computer station!”) is more likely to generate
conflict-escalating behavior than is more reasoned, effortful, reflective pro
-
cessing (e.g., “Hmm...didIleaveanyclues that I was working there?”). As
the individual’s willingness and ability to engage in more reflective, effortful
processing decreases with mental fatigue, social behavior is likely to become
increasingly thoughtless, tactless, and unstrategic, allowing conflicts to spi-
ral out of control (see Rubin, Bream, & Rose-Krasnor, 1991, for a similar
proposal with respect to children’s social problem solving).
There is some evidence to suggest that deficits in effortful processing are
indeed associated with aggression. In school settings, deficits in effortful
processing are likely to manifest in inattentiveness, and inattentiveness has
been closely tied to aggression in both children (Stewart, 1985) and adoles-
cents (Scholte, van Aken, & van Lieshout, 1997). Indeed, the tie between
attention deficits and hyperactivity on one hand and conduct problems and
aggression on the other has been so strong that there has been some debate as
to whether these disorders are distinct (see Hinshaw, 1987, for a meta-analysis
indicating that these disorders are distinct although correlated). Conversely,
Rabiner, Lenhart, and Lochman (1990) found that when aggressive children
were encouraged to be more reflective in their responses to problematic
social situations, their generation of conflict-escalating responses dropped to
the same levels as their nonaggressive, nonrejected peers. Thus, it seems
plausible that the deficits in effortful processing that are symptomatic of
mental fatigue may contribute to aggression.
Mental fatigue may also contribute to aggression because of its effects on
emotion—specifically, heightened irritability. Irritability appears to be a fre
-
quent side effect of mentally fatiguing tasks, such as the vigilance tasks
involved in air traffic control (Thackray, Bailey, & Touchstone, 1979; Warm &
Dember, 1986). Not surprisingly, irritability is linked with aggression in
numerous studies (e.g., Caprara & Renzi, 1981; Coccaro, Bergeman,
546 ENVIRONMENT AND BEHAVIOR / July 2001
Kavoussi, & Seroczynski, 1997; Kant, Smith-Seemiller, & Zeiler, 1998;
Kavoussi & Coccaro, 1998; Stanford, Greve, & Dickens, 1995). Irritable
individuals are prone to aggression when faced with frustration (Caprara &
Renzi, 1981), and pharmacological treatments that reduce aggression also
reduce irritability (Kant et al., 1998; Kavoussi & Coccaro, 1998). Thus, it
seems plausible that the irritability symptomatic of mental fatigue might con
-
tribute to aggression.
Finally, mental fatigue may also contribute to aggression because of its
effects on behavior—specifically, decreased control over impulses. S. Kap
-
lan (1987) noted that one of the hallmarks of mental fatigue is a difficulty
inhibiting behavioral impulses. Impulsivity in turn is associated with aggres
-
sion and violence in a variety of populations (for reviews, see Brady, Myrick, &
McElroy, 1998; Markovitz, 1995; Tuinier, Verhoeven, & Van Praag, 1996).
Violent parolees are more impulsive than nonviolent parolees (Cherek,
Moeller, Dougherty, & Rhoades, 1997), maritally violent men are more
impulsive than maritally nonviolent men (Barnett & Hamberger, 1992), and
among depressed males, impulsive individuals are more likely to be aggres-
sive than nonimpulsive individuals (Hynan & Grush, 1986). Not surprisingly,
then, Luengo and colleagues (Luengo, Carrillo-de-la-Pena, Otero, &
Romero, 1994) found in their 1-year longitudinal study that present
impulsivity ratings predict future antisocial behavior, including aggression.
In sum, each of these factors—impairments in effortful cognitive process-
ing, irritability, and impulsivity—has been independently implicated in
aggression. To the extent that mental fatigue combines these three factors,
mental fatigue seems likely to contribute substantially to aggression.
INNER CITIES AND CHRONIC MENTAL FATIGUE
Poor, inner-city neighborhoods may be an especially promising context in
which to study the effects of nature and attentional restoration on aggression.
As the following analysis, drawn from Kuo (1992), suggests, the attentional
demands associated with poverty and the inner-city environment are likely to
place this population at special risk for chronic mental fatigue and
fatigue-related aggression. As a consequence, residents of poor, inner-city
neighborhoods may have a special need for the mental respite provided by
nearby nature.
The attentional demands of poverty are many and unremitting. For the
poor, even basic concerns such as rent, utilities, and food are ongoing chal
-
lenges that require effortful problem solving and reasoning. Added to these
are the attentional challenges posed by major life events. Poverty brings
with it a greater susceptibility and vulnerability to drastic life changes.
Kuo, Sullivan / AGGRESSION AND VIOLENCE 547
Underinsured and having no financial cushion against setbacks, even a minor
temporary trauma such as a child’s illness can have far-reaching effects,
eventually necessitating major readjustments in life, family, and work
domains. Making these adjustments requires sustained, high levels of mental
functioning.
Moreover, the environmental characteristics of inner-city neighborhoods
place additional demands on attention. First and foremost, the ever-present
possibility of crime or violence places high demands on attention (see
Cohen & Spacapan, 1978, for an analysis of the attentional demands imposed
by unpredictable stressors). Danger requires individuals to be vigilant for
signs of impending trouble, to continuously consider possible responses to
new situations, and to consider the ramifications of those responses. Second,
the home environment may place further demands on attention; lack of ade
-
quate space and facilities makes purposive functioning more effortful as
more problem solving is required to accomplish goals in unsupportive or
inadequate settings. Problem solving may be made all the more fatiguing by
the lack of quiet, safe settings in which to think. And finally, for the many
inner-city residents who lack natural settings in their everyday environment
(nearby parks, views to green spaces, and gardens), recovery from mental
fatigue may be especially rare.
Over time, the ongoing and acute attentional demands of poverty, in com-
bination with the mentally fatiguing characteristics of the inner-city environ-
ment, seem likely to yield chronic high levels of mental fatigue. Thus, among
inner-city inhabitants lacking ready access to attentionally restorative set-
tings, we might expect chronic high levels of mental fatigue and a heightened
propensity for aggressive behavior. Conversely, among residents with ready
access to nature, we might expect comparatively low levels of mental fatigue
and aggression.
Two questions are central to this study. First, does nearby nature reduce
aggression and violence? And second, if so, is this effect mediated via
attentional restoration? To examine these questions, structured interviews
and attentional tests were conducted with urban public housing residents.
Because official adult residents are predominately single mothers, the struc
-
tured interviews focused on intrafamily aggression and violence rather than
other forms of violence. Attentional performance and self-reports of aggres
-
sion were then compared for residents living in buildings with relatively high
versus relatively low levels of nearby nature, and mediation tests were used to
examine whether attentional restoration might account for a relationship
between nature and aggression.
To explore possible alternative accounts for a nature-aggression relation
-
ship, a number of additional tests were conducted. A test for spuriousness
548 ENVIRONMENT AND BEHAVIOR / July 2001
(Evans & Lepore, 1997) was conducted to guard against alternative accounts
in general. In addition, the following three particular alternative accounts
were given specific attention: (a) Positive mood, (b) stress recovery, and
(c) social support were each identified as theoretically plausible explanations
for a link between nature and reduced aggression. Positive mood has been
linked directly with contact with nature (Hull & Michael, 1995), and it seems
plausible that positive moods could reduce the propensity for aggression
(Pihl & Zacchia, 1986, tested this notion but found no evidence for it). Simi
-
larly, stress (or more precisely, recovery from stress) has been linked directly
with contact with nature (Ulrich et al., 1991), and stress also appears to con
-
tribute to aggression (Bolger, Thomas, & Eckenrode, 1997; Chang, 1994).
And finally, there is some indication that neighborhood social ties and sup
-
port networks are stronger around greener neighborhood spaces (Kuo,
Sullivan, Coley, & Brunson, 1998; Kweon, Sullivan, & Wiley, 1998); in turn,
child abuse is less prevalent among parents who have social support
(Garbarino & Sherman, 1980; Roth, 1986).
METHOD
THE SITE: A NATURAL EXPERIMENT
ON THE EFFECTS OF NEARBY NATURE
A number of methodological criteria were employed in the selection of a
site for this research. Robert Taylor Homes (RTH) in Chicago was rare in that
it simultaneously met each of these criteria.
First, although the amount of vegetation outside the buildings at RTH var
-
ies considerably from building to building, other environmental features are
held remarkably constant from one building to another. Because the build
-
ings are architecturally identical, at RTH, building size, building layout,
building facilities, architectural detail, and the number of residential units per
building are held constant (see Figure 1). Moreover, because the buildings are
placed in single file along a 3-mile corridor, the features of the surrounding
landscape are similar from one building to another. Each building is bordered
on the west by an interstate highway and railroad tracks and bordered on the
east by a six-lane municipal thoroughfare and wide sidewalk.
Second, public housing policies result in de facto random assignment of
residents with respect to levels of nearby nature at RTH. Although housing
applicants to the Chicago Housing Authority can specify their choice of
development (e.g., RTH vs. some other development), they have little choice
Kuo, Sullivan / AGGRESSION AND VIOLENCE 549
550 ENVIRONMENT AND BEHAVIOR / July 2001
Figure 1: Attrition Has Left Some Buildings Surrounded by Only Concrete and
Asphalt and Others With Pockets of Green
of where they will be assigned within a development (i.e., this apartment vs.
another apartment within RTH).
1
Moreover, the scale of the Chicago Housing
Authority precludes the placement of “better” (e.g., more responsible and
less aggressive) residents in “better” (e.g., greener) locations. Clerks in a cen
-
tral office handle all assignments of residents to apartments for 40,700 units
in 1,479 buildings across 17 developments throughout the city. They gener
-
ally have never met or seen the applicants for housing and most likely have
never set foot in most of the Housing Authority’s developments. It is im
-
plausible that anyone could remember the characteristics of so many build
-
ings, let alone take them into account in assigning apartments.
Third, residents at RTH have little role in the landscaping outside their
building. When RTH was originally built in the 1960s, trees and grass were
planted around each of the 28 high-rise buildings. Over time, the majority of
these green spaces have been paved in an effort to keep dust down and main
-
tenance costs low; this paving has killed many of the original trees, leaving
some buildings with completely barren common spaces, others with a few
scattered trees, and still others with leftover pockets of green. Ongoing land-
scape maintenance at RTH is handled entirely by a small landscaping crew
serving all of the developments managed by the Chicago Housing Authority;
residents are not involved in maintenance, and funds are inadequate to fulfill
special requests from residents. Thus, a relationship between greenness of
common spaces and aggression in this setting cannot be explained by a pro-
cess in which especially effective or cooperative residents have made their
surroundings greener.
In sum, RTH constitutes a naturally occurring experiment on the effects of
residential vegetation, with random assignment of residents to vegetation
conditions, no control of residents over levels of vegetation, and a host of
environmental variables held constant. An additional methodologically
desirable feature of RTH for this study is that the residents are strikingly
homogeneous with respect to many of the individual characteristics that
might be expected to affect aggression—income, education, life circum
-
stances, and perhaps most important, economic opportunities.
PROCEDURE, PARTICIPANTS, AND DESIGN
To maximize participants’ ease in responding, interviewers were selected
to be as similar to interviewees as possible. Three African American female
residents of RTH were hired and trained to conduct the recruitment, inter
-
viewing, and testing for this research. All three were longtime residents of
RTH (19 years or more) residing in buildings outside the study sample. Thus,
Kuo, Sullivan / AGGRESSION AND VIOLENCE 551
interviewers were matched to interviewees not only in major demographic
characteristics such as race, gender, and socioeconomic status but also in life
circumstances, background, and more subtle social cues such as patterns of
speech and dress.
In preparation for interviewing and testing, interviewers completed exten
-
sive training (50 hours of general training in interview methods, 12 hours
learning the specific interview measures used, and 14 hours of supervised
and unsupervised practice in performing practice interviews). In addition, an
on-site research supervisor met regularly with the interviewers to review pro
-
cedures and address any difficulties or questions. Interviewers did not inter
-
view individuals with whom they were previously familiar, and interviewers
were counterbalanced for nature condition.
Recruitment was conducted door to door in buildings spanning the range
of vegetation of RTH. Sampling was restricted to 18 buildings—buildings
adjacent to parks, police stations, and other relatively unique features were
excluded to minimize effects of extraneous factors on residents’ access to
nearby nature. Within buildings, sampling was restricted to apartments on
Floors 2 through 4, where residents had maximal physical and visual access
to the trees outside their building (there are no residences on the first floor).
Recruitment criteria included not only environmental factors but also resi-
dent characteristics. Women heads of household younger than the age of 65
were invited to participate in a University of Illinois study about life at RTH.
Recruitment focused on women because official adult residents in urban pub-
lic housing are overwhelmingly female—80% in RTH (Chicago Housing
Authority, 1995).
2
Participants were told that they could refuse to answer any
question and could stop the interview at any time and that they would receive
$10 on completion of the interview.
Of the 158 qualified residents invited to participate, 92% chose to partici
-
pate, yielding a final sample of 145 residents, 69 with relatively low levels of
nearby nature and 76 with relatively high levels of nearby nature. The com
-
posite participant profile is that of a 34-year-old African American single
woman with a high school or high school equivalency diploma raising three
children on an annual household income of less than $10,000.
Individual interviews were conducted during summer and fall months in
participants’ apartments. Residents’ attentional capacity, aggression, and a
number of control variables likely to be associated with aggression were
assessed as part of a 45-minute structured interview.
552 ENVIRONMENT AND BEHAVIOR / July 2001
MEASURES
Nearby nature. Levels of nearby nature were assessed using standardized
sets of photographs and multiple independent raters. For each of the 18 build-
ings to be sampled, a standardized set of photographs was taken from eye
level of the area immediately surrounding the building. As Figure 2 shows,
each standardized set comprises 16 photographs taken from specified van
-
tage points; most showed views looking out from the building, and the
remaining showed views looking across the building.
To obtain ratings of the nearby nature for each building, the photographs
were arranged at 18 stations (drawing tables in a design studio), with each
station showing all 16 photographs for a given building. Undergraduate and
graduate students in horticulture then independently rated levels of nearby
nature for each of the 18 buildings. First, raters visited each of the stations to
familiarize themselves with the range of vegetation in the 18 buildings. Sec
-
ond, they visited each station again in turn and provided a single greenness
rating for each building based on the 16 photographs. Raters were encour
-
aged to use the entire response scale from 0 to 4 (0 = not at all green ,1=a
Kuo, Sullivan / AGGRESSION AND VIOLENCE 553
Figure 2: Plan View of an Apartment Building at Robert Taylor Homes With
Nearby Trees
NOTE: The numbers within the building indicate apartments. The arrows indicate the position from
which photographs were taken (for each building) that were then rated by 22 independent raters.
Note that despite the presence of trees outside a building, residents in particular apartments may
have little or no visual access to trees.
little green,2=somewhat green,3=quite green, and 4 = very green). For
each building, greenness ratings from the 22 raters were averaged to produce
a summary greenness rating. These averaged greenness ratings ranged from
0.8 for the building with the least nearby nature to 3.6 for the greenest
building.
With these data, agreement between raters is analogous to the reliability of
items in a scale; the hope is that different raters will respond to a particular
building in a similar fashion. Thus, to assess interrater agreement, a
Cronbach’s alpha was calculated, with individual raters treated as individual
items in a scale and individual buildings treated as individual respondents.
This procedure yielded an alpha of .97, indicating a high level of agreement
between raters with regard to building greenness.
Greenness ratings were used as the basis for assignment to conditions.
Buildings whose ratings fell below the midpoint of the range were designated
barren; buildings whose ratings were at or above the midpoint were desig
-
nated green. Greenness ratings for the 7 buildings in the barren condition
ranged from 0.8 to 1.7, with a mean of 1.2. Greenness ratings for the 11 build-
ings in the green condition ranged from 2.0 to 3.6, with a mean of 2.6. In inter-
preting these ratings, it should be noted that because raters were encouraged
to use the entire response scale, even a high greenness rating of 3.6, or very
green, is relative to the range of vegetation at RTH; as Figure 1 shows, even
the greenest pockets at RTH are neither especially large nor especially lush in
vegetation.
There were no systematic differences between barren and green buildings
in environmental factors such as pedestrian or automobile traffic, nearness to
parking, or nearness to parks, schools, or other facilities. There was no sys
-
tematic pattern in the sequence of green and barren buildings along the 3-mile
corridor; green and barren buildings were not clustered but rather haphaz
-
ardly interspersed. Some barren buildings were oriented north-south, others
east-west; similarly for green buildings. For barren buildings, in the places
where trees or grass might have been, there was only bare dirt or asphalt, and
even the green buildings were surrounded by large areas of bare dirt or
asphalt.
To check for possible condition differences in participant characteristics
for barren versus green buildings, a series of t tests was conducted. As would
be expected given random assignment of residents to nature conditions, no
significant condition differences were found in demographic characteristics,
household characteristics, or other variables potentially related to aggres
-
sion. Specifically, green and barren participants did not differ in age, educa
-
tion, employment, income, size of household, marital status, number of
554 ENVIRONMENT AND BEHAVIOR / July 2001
children, years in apartment, years in public housing, health ratings, health
symptoms, alcohol use, prescription drug use, or other drug use.
Attentional functioning. The capacity for directed attention was assessed
with the Digit Span Backwards (DSB) test. Digit Span Backwards is a stan
-
dardized neurocognitive measure and is used in the measurement of
attentional fatigue (Cimprich, 1993; Schwartz, 1994; Tennessen &
Cimprich, 1995) and in the clinical measurement of attention (Lezak, 1983;
Mesulam, 1985). DSB is particularly useful for field settings because it is
easy to administer: The administrator reads aloud a series of digits (e.g., “2, 5,
1”), and participants are asked to repeat back the series in reverse order (e.g.,
“1, 5, 2”). Series are administered in increasing length; if a participant fails a
series of a given length, a second series of equal length is administered.
Scoring was based on the longest series performed correctly within two
attempts.
Aggression. The Conflict Tactics Scale (CTS) (Straus, 1979) is a widely
used self-report measure designed to assess levels of intrafamily aggression
and violence. It has been used in more than 100 studies (see bibliography in
Straus, 1995). The CTS has a test-retest reliability of .97 (parent-to-child
aggression) (DuRant, Pendergrast, & Cadenhead, 1994), an internal consis-
tency of .88 (wife-to-husband aggression) (Straus, Gelles, & Steinmetz,
1980), and good concurrent validity with other measures of parental
psychosocial distress (Wissow, Wilson, Roter, Larson, & Hope, 1992).
To elicit reports of aggressive behavior, participants are asked to think of
situations in which they had a disagreement or were angry with a specified
family member and to indicate how often they used each of 18 conflict tac
-
tics, beginning with socially acceptable tactics (e.g., reasoning) and ending
with violent tactics. Table 1 shows the 14 aggressive conflict tactics from the
CTS. The responses to these 14 items provide an index of overall aggression.
The first 6 items index psychological aggression: verbal and symbolic acts
intended to cause psychological pain or fear. The remaining 8 items index
violence: the use of physical force or violence. These 8 items comprise both
mild violence (3 behaviors unlikely to cause injury) and severe violence (5
behaviors likely to cause injury).
For each of the specific conflict tactics, participants are asked to indicate
how often they have used it in the past 12 months on a 7-point scale (0 = never
to6=more than 20 times, with X = don’t know). If participants reply never or
don’t know, they are then asked, “Did you ever...?(yes/no). These ques
-
tions are asked in reference to two specified family members—first the
Kuo, Sullivan / AGGRESSION AND VIOLENCE 555
respondent’s partner (or the adult with whom they are closest) and then their
child (or if they have more than one, the child with whom they have the most
conflicts).
This procedure yields estimates of both the frequency of specific aggres-
sive behaviors used in the past year and the range of aggressive behaviors
employed over the respondent’s lifetime. In general, more aggressive per-
sons employ a wider range of aggressive behaviors; for instance, Person A
might only use verbally aggressive tactics, whereas Person B might use not
only verbally aggressive tactics but also physically aggressive tactics. For
each of the different categories of aggression (overall aggression, psycholog
-
ical aggression, and so forth), the range of tactics a respondent has used in
that category is calculated by taking the proportion of the number of different
tactics employed out of the total number of different tactics. For instance, an
individual who has employed each of the 14 different overall aggression tac
-
tics would have an overall aggression range of 1.0; an individual who has
employed only 7 of those tactics (typically, the less serious ones) would have
an overall aggression range of 0.5. Similarly, the range of violent tactics
would refer to the proportion of the 8 violent tactics that a respondent had
employed. It should be noted that the term range is not used in the statistical
sense here; the different conflict tactics are not assumed to be on an interval
scale.
556 ENVIRONMENT AND BEHAVIOR / July 2001
TABLE 1
Overall Aggression Items From the Conflict Tactics Scale
Psychological aggression
Insulted or swore at the other
Sulked or refused to talk
Stomped out of the room or house
Did or said something to spite the other
Threatened to hit or throw something
Threw or smashed or hit or kicked something
Violence
Mild violence
Pushed, grabbed, or shoved the other one
Slapped the other one
Threw something at the other one
Severe violence
Kicked, bit, or hit with a fist
Hit or tried to hit with something
Beat up the other one
Threatened with a knife or gun
Used a knife or gun
Other factors likely to affect aggression. Three additional variables that
seemed likely to be related to nearby nature, attention, or aggression were
assessed through self-report using a 5-point scale (0 = not at all,1=a little,2=
a medium amount,3=quite a lot, and 4 = very much). Positive mood was
assessed with the Positive Mood subscale of the Profile of Mood States
(POMS). Participants rated themselves on six adjectives (lively, active, ener
-
getic, cheerful, full of pep, and vigorous). The POMS has been shown to be a
valid and reliable instrument for the measurement of mood (McNair, Lorr, &
Droppleman, 1981). Stress was assessed with the question “How stressful is
this period in your life?” And social integration was assessed with an 8-item
scale, alpha = .80, that included items such as “How well do you know the
people next door?”; “Are people here concerned with helping and supporting
one another?”; and “Is there a strong feeling of belonging here?” (see Kuo
et al., 1998, for details).
RESULTS
Results are presented in three subsections. First, descriptive statistics on
intrafamily aggression and participants’ attentional resources are presented.
Second, the central hypothesis is tested. And third, potential mechanisms
underlying the relationship between nearby nature and aggression are
explored.
AGGRESSION AND MENTAL
FATIGUE AT ROBERT TAYLOR HOMES
Consistent with previous research, levels of aggression in this population
were much higher than in national samples. A majority of participants in this
sample (61%) reported having engaged in a violent act against their partner at
least once in their lives, a rate approximately 4 times that reported in two
national probability samples of couples in the United States (Straus, 1979;
Straus & Gelles, 1988) but consistent with rates from a sample of formerly
married African American women (57%) (Neff, Holamon, & Schluter,
1995). Aggression against children showed much the same pattern. A major
-
ity of the participants in this sample reported hitting their child with some
-
thing at least once in their lives (56%), approximately 4 times the rate
reported in a national sample of two-caretaker households with at least one
child (Straus & Gelles, 1986).
Kuo, Sullivan / AGGRESSION AND VIOLENCE 557
Participants’ DSB scores provide an index of attentional resources in this
inner-city population. According to Lezak (1983), scores of 4 or 5 on this ver
-
sion of the DSB test are within normal limits, depending on the individual’s
educational level. In this sample, the mean DSB score was 4.8, with a stan
-
dard deviation of 1.1, indicating substantial variation in attentional
functioning.
TESTING THE CENTRAL HYPOTHESES
If the availability of nearby nature reduces the propensity for aggression,
then residents living in green conditions should report less aggression than
their counterparts living in barren conditions: less frequent aggression in the
past year and a narrower range of aggressive tactics used over the course of
their lifetime. A series of planned, one-tailed t tests were conducted to exam
-
ine condition differences in frequency and range of aggression, first against
the respondent’s partner and then against their child.
Aggression against partner. Tables 2 and 3 show the findings with respect
to the frequency of aggression against partner in the past year and the range of
aggressive tactics used against partner over the lifetime.
As the first row of Table 2 shows, there was a significant condition differ-
ence in the frequency of overall aggression against partner during the past
year. That is, residents living in green conditions reported significantly less
overall aggression against their partners than did their counterparts living in
barren conditions. The following rows in Table 2 show the findings for spe-
cific forms of aggression. The second row indicates that there was a signifi
-
cant condition difference in psychological aggression against partner;
residents living in green conditions were significantly less likely to have
engaged in psychological aggression against their partners than were resi
-
dents living in barren conditions. Does this effect extend to more violent
forms of aggression? Because the violence indices produce extremely
skewed distributions, Straus (1979) recommended dichotomizing these indi
-
ces into violent and nonviolent categories. If a participant had engaged in at
least one of the eight violent conflict tactics during the past year, they were
designated violent; otherwise, they were designated nonviolent. As rows 3
through 5 of Table 2 show, nearby nature is related to the use of violence
against partner during the past year. Violence scores were significantly lower
for residents living in green conditions than those living in barren conditions.
Furthermore, this pattern held for both the more mild forms of violence and
the more severe forms of violence. Both mild violence rates and severe
558 ENVIRONMENT AND BEHAVIOR / July 2001
violence rates were significantly lower in the green condition than in the bar
-
ren condition. Mean differences between the green and barren conditions for
the various aggression subscales ranged from one third to one half of a stan
-
dard deviation.
Table 3 shows the findings with respect to the range of aggressive conflict
tactics used against partner over the participant’s lifetime. As the first row
shows, there was a significant condition difference in the range of overall
aggression tactics used. That is, residents living in green conditions report
Kuo, Sullivan / AGGRESSION AND VIOLENCE 559
TABLE 2
Mean Rates of Aggression Against Partner
During Past Year in Green Versus Barren Condition
Barren Green
MSD MSD t p
Overall aggression 1.04 0.88 0.76 1.07 1.68 < .05
Psychological aggression 1.47 1.20 1.00 1.26 2.24 .01
Violence 0.73 0.45 0.49 0.50 2.99 < .01
Mild violence 0.73 0.45 0.49 0.50 3.06 .001
Severe violence 0.48 0.50 0.31 0.47 2.10 < .05
NOTE: The response scale for the original items in this table was from 0 (
never
)to6(
more than 20
times
). Because the violence, mild violence, and severe violence indices were skewed, we followed
Straus’s (1979, p. 80) recommendation that these scales be dichotomized into violent and nonvio
-
lent categories. Thus, for these three indices, 0 indicates having engaged in none of the specific tac
-
tics during the past year, and 1 indicates having engaged in at least one of the tactics during the past
year. Degrees of freedom ranged from 136 to 140.
TABLE 3
Range of Aggression Tactics Used Against Partner
in Lifetime in Green Versus Barren Conditions
Barren Green
MSD MSD t p
Overall aggression .44 .28 .32 .30 2.39 < .01
Psychological aggression .58 .36 .44 .35 2.46 < .01
Violence .32 .27 .24 .32 1.54 .06
Mild violence .52 .39 .35 .40 2.50 < .01
Severe violence .19 .24 .16 .29 0.80 .22
NOTE: In response to questions about having ever used specific aggressive conflict tactics, partici
-
pants responded never (0) or yes (1). Standard deviations are in parentheses; degrees of freedom
ranged from 136 to 140.
using a narrower set of aggressive conflict tactics against their partners over
their lifetime than did their counterparts living in barren conditions. The
following rows in Table 3 show the findings for specific forms of aggres
-
sion. The second row indicates that there was a significant condition differ
-
ence in psychological aggression against partner; residents living in green
conditions used a significantly narrower set of psychologically aggressive
conflict tactics than did residents living in barren conditions. The third row of
the table suggests that nearby nature may be related to the range of violent
conflict tactics used against partners. For residents living in green conditions,
the set of violent tactics used was 25% smaller than for those living in barren
conditions, a marginally significant difference (p = .06). Although there was
no difference in the range of severe forms of violence used against partners,
there was a significant condition difference in more mild forms: Residents
living in green conditions report using a smaller set of mildly violent conflict
tactics against their partners over their lifetime than did their counterparts liv
-
ing in barren conditions. Mean differences between the green and barren con-
ditions ranged from more than one quarter to one half of a standard deviation.
Aggression against a child. The conditions leading to aggression against
an adult family member may be quite different from those leading to aggres-
sion against one’s child. Conflicts with children are likely to be more fre-
quent than those with adult family members and often center around
disciplinary issues. At the same time, some forms of aggression may be less
socially acceptable against children than against adults. Does the relationship
between nearby nature and aggression found for women and their partners
exist for women and their children? Condition differences were examined for
aggressive conflict tactics used with children, specifically, the child with
whom the participant had the most conflicts. A t test showed that greenness
was related to the range of psychologically aggressive tactics used against
children: Lifetime scores for proportion of psychologically aggressive tactics
used were significantly lower for participants living in the green condition
than for their counterparts living in the barren condition (.54 vs. .62), t(140) =
1.83, p < .05. But the effect did not hold for the frequency of psychological
aggression during the past year or for the frequency or range of more violent
forms of aggression against children.
In sum, there were a number of indications that nearby nature has a miti
-
gating effect on aggression and violence: Nearby nature was systematically
related to lower scores on multiple indices of aggression against partners and
one index of aggression against children.
560 ENVIRONMENT AND BEHAVIOR / July 2001
TESTING FOR UNDERLYING MECHANISMS
What mechanism or mechanisms might underlie the association between
nearby nature and aggression? The following analyses tested for each of the
following: the proposed mechanism, the possibility that some unspecified
mechanism might be at work, and three specific alternative mechanisms.
If effects of nearby nature on aggression operate through attentional resto
-
ration, a number of predictions follow. First, residents living in green condi
-
tions should show higher levels of attentional functioning than their
counterparts living in barren conditions. A planned student t test showed that
indeed, mean DSB scores were significantly higher in the green condition (M =
5.0, SD = 1.0) than in the barren condition (M = 4.6, SD = 1.2), t(138) = 1.74,
p < .05, differing by more than one third of a standard deviation.
Second, if effects of nearby nature on aggression operate through
attentional restoration, then attentional functioning should be systematically
related to aggression. Using the lifetime measure of overall aggression
against partner as a summary index of aggression, an ordinary least squares
regression was conducted using DSB scores to predict levels of aggression.
As predicted, there was a significant negative relationship between DSB per-
formance and overall aggression (β = –.26, R
2
= .07, F = 9.9, p < .0025). By
this summary measure of aggression, the better a participant’s attentional
functioning, the less aggression she had engaged in.
And finally, if effects of nearby nature on aggression operate through
attentional restoration, the relationship between nature and aggression
should statistically depend on the relationship between attention and aggres-
sion. These interdependencies are important to examine when hypothesizing
mediation because significant associations among three variables are possi
-
ble without there being a mediation relationship between them. For example,
in this case, nearby nature might enhance attention and reduce aggression but
influence aggression through some other mechanism than attention. In that
case, the nature-aggression relationship would most likely be statistically
independent of the nature-attention relationship. If, on the other hand, con
-
tact with nearby nature reduces aggression via the restoration of attentional
resources, we would expect the nature-aggression relationship to diminish or
disappear when attention is statistically controlled.
Accordingly, a multiple regression was used to test for the joint relation
-
ships among nearby nature, attentional performance, and levels of aggres
-
sion. When DSB (the proposed mediator) was controlled in a regression
between greenness and overall aggression, greenness was no longer a signifi
-
cant predictor (β = –.13, p = .11, R
2
= .09, F = 6.5, p < .0025). Complete, or
Kuo, Sullivan / AGGRESSION AND VIOLENCE 561
“perfect,” mediation requires that the independent variable has no additional
predictive power when the mediator is controlled (Baron & Kenny, 1986);
thus, these findings indicate that attentional restoration could be the sole
mechanism underlying the nature-aggression relationship found here.
Could the links among nature, attention, and aggression be explained by
some unspecified confounding variable or some alternative mechanism?
Evans and Lepore (1997) suggested addressing what they referred to as “the
spuriousness problem” by conducting an analysis in which the relationship
between the hypothesized mediator and the outcome variable is examined
while the independent variable is controlled. By their reasoning, if there is
some unspecified confounding variable responsible for the relationships
among nature, attention, and aggression, then attention will not be signifi
-
cantly related to aggression when nature is controlled. In fact, the multiple
regression described earlier addresses this possibility: DSB was a significant
predictor of overall aggression (β = –.24, p < .01) when greenness was con
-
trolled. This finding indicates that some unspecified mechanism cannot
account for the relationships among DSB, greenness, and overall aggression.
These findings were echoed in follow-up analyses examining the follow-
ing three specific, theoretically plausible, alternative mechanisms: positive
mood, stress, and social integration. Planned student t tests showed that
greenness was unrelated to positive mood, t(142) = –.04, p = .48, and stress,
t(140) = .17, p = .43, but was related to social integration, t(140) = 2.7, p < .01.
Correlational analyses showed that overall aggression was related to neither
mood, r(141) = –.07, p = .48, nor stress, r(139) = .135, p = .11, nor social inte-
gration, r(142) = –.06, p = .48. Together, these results indicate that neither posi-
tive mood, nor stress, nor social integration mediate the nature-aggression
relationship found here. Moreover, these analyses reinforce the aforemen
-
tioned mediation and spuriousness findings, indicating that the effect of
nature on aggression found here may be wholly mediated through attentional
restoration.
DISCUSSION
In 145 adult women randomly assigned to a series of architecturally iden
-
tical apartment buildings, levels of aggression and violence were signifi
-
cantly lower among individuals who had some nearby nature outside their
apartments than among their counterparts who lived in barren conditions.
Furthermore, as would be predicted if this relationship were mediated by
mental (attentional) fatigue, (a) residents living in greener settings
562 ENVIRONMENT AND BEHAVIOR / July 2001
demonstrated reliably better performance on measures of attentional func
-
tioning, (b) attentional performance predicted scores on a summary index of
aggression, and (c) the relationship between nearby nature and aggression
scores became nonsignificant when attention was controlled. Finally,
follow-up analyses examining potential alternative mediators revealed no
significant relationships between aggression and mood, stress, or social inte
-
gration, and a test for unspecified mediators similarly ruled out alternative
mechanisms.
It should be noted that the predicted relationship between nearby nature
and aggression was not consistently found for more violent forms of aggres
-
sion or for aggression against children. Of the various forms of aggression
examined in this study, these may be the most susceptible to social desirabil
-
ity effects. Future research might use other strategies to examine the
nature-aggression relationship for forms of aggression that are most difficult
to assess through self-report.
To what extent can the nature-aggression relationship found here be inter-
preted as an effect of nearby nature on aggression? The following consider-
ations lend confidence in a causal interpretation of these data: the random
assignment of residents to nature condition; the consistently negative find-
ings across numerous checks for condition differences in participant, house-
hold, and interviewer characteristics; the consistency of architectural and
other environmental features over the two conditions; the use of multiple
buildings per condition; and the use of double-blind measures for both
nearby nature and aggression. Numerous tests were conducted to identify the
particular causal pathway between nature and aggression. Results from all of
these tests were of one accord: The mediation tests indicated a pathway
through attention, and the spuriousness test and direct tests of alternative
mediators all worked to rule out other possible pathways. Although other
possibilities cannot be ruled out entirely, the only interpretation consistent
with the complete set of findings here is that nearby nature reduces aggres
-
sion by supporting attentional functioning. At this juncture, attention restora
-
tion theory (S. Kaplan, 1995) provides the best explanation for the link
between nature and aggression.
Having addressed the question of internal validity, we turn now to external
validity. To what extent do the relationships found in this study generalize to
the real world? External validity depends in large part on how the constructs
in a study are operationalized. In this study, the constructs were
operationalized as directly as possible; to the extent we could, we avoided
using surrogates or proxies. For example, measuring the vegetation around
participants’ homes was a more direct way to assess the effects of residential
Kuo, Sullivan / AGGRESSION AND VIOLENCE 563
nature than, say, showing slides of nature in a classroom. Similarly, using a
performance measure of attention provided a more direct measure of
attentional functioning than asking participants to rate how attentive they
feel. And, asking participants to estimate the actual frequency of specific
aggressive behaviors in the past year provided a more direct measure of in
situ aggression than obtaining ratings of feelings of aggression in a labora
-
tory setting or eliciting hostile attributions in hypothetical contexts. Relying
on relatively direct measures of nature, attention, and aggression lends
greater confidence that the relationships found here are true outside of this
study. The large sample size employed (145 participants) further strengthens
the case for external validity.
At the same time, there is reason for caution in assuming that these effects
generalize to forms of aggression not studied here or to aggression in other
populations and settings. Although the mental fatigue hypothesis should
apply to many forms of aggression and it is quite clear that both men and
women are subject to mental fatigue, this work examined only intrafamily
aggression by women. Future research should examine effects of nature on
aggression by men and other forms of aggression (e.g., road rage and gang
violence).
These qualifications notwithstanding, domestic violence is an important
topic in and of itself, and findings with regard to domestic violence have
far-reaching implications. A substantial literature has established that com-
pared with children from nonviolent families, children of violent families are
more likely to grow up to be violent. This increased risk for violent behavior
includes not only children who were victims of abuse but also those who wit-
nessed abuse (Bandura, 1973, 1978; DuRant et al., 1994; Rice & Remy,
1998; Wissow et al., 1992; Wolfe, Jaffe, Wilson, & Zak, 1985). Thus, identi
-
fying possible avenues to reducing domestic violence may pay benefits for
generations to come. By reducing intrafamily aggression and thus children’s
socialization into aggressive and violent behaviors, green neighborhood
spaces may indirectly reduce aggression in future generations.
This work has implications for understanding and preventing aggression
and for our understanding of the psychological effects of natural
environments.
UNDERSTANDING AND PREVENTING AGGRESSION
One contribution of this work is to suggest a potential explanation for a
number of poorly understood phenomena in the environment-behavior litera
-
ture on human aggression. Mental fatigue might help account for the relation
-
ships found between crowding and aggression (Ani & Grantham-McGregor,
564 ENVIRONMENT AND BEHAVIOR / July 2001
1998; Nijman & Rector, 1999; Palmstierna, Huitfeldt, & Wistedt, 1991) and
noise and aggression (Donnerstein & Wilson, 1976; Gaur, 1988; Geen &
McCown, 1984; Sherrod, Moore, & Underwood, 1979), and for urban-rural
differences in aggression (Fingerhut, Ingram, & Feldman, 1998). Noise and
crowding both seem likely to place demands on attention (Cohen &
Spacapan, 1978), and urban environments tend not only to be noisier and
more crowded than rural environments but also less green than rural environ
-
ments. Thus, urban environments seem likely to be more attentionally fatigu
-
ing and less attentionally restorative in general than rural environments.
Future research might examine whether these phenomena are indeed fatigue
related.
This work may also offer insight into some phenomena in human aggres
-
sion that do not necessarily involve the physical environment. For example,
both the extremely high rates of aggression and violence in poor families
and the link between stressful life events and aggression (Guerra,
Huesmann, Tolan, Van Acker, & Eron, 1995; Hammond & Yung, 1991;
Patterson, Kupersmidt, & Vaden, 1990; Spencer, Dobbs, & Phillips, 1988;
Straus et al., 1980) might be explained at least in part by mental fatigue. As
described in the introduction, poverty is likely to place relatively high, un-
remitting demands on attention. And stressful life events such as moving to a
new home or having a family member become seriously ill can involve sub-
stantial amounts of problem solving, contingency planning, and other atten-
tionally demanding, mentally fatiguing forms of cognition. If the relatively
high rates of aggression associated with poverty and stressful life events are
indeed partially attributable to mental fatigue, future research should find
links between poverty and mental fatigue as well as links between stressful
life events and mental fatigue.
This work also suggests a number of possible interventions for addressing
aggression and violence in the inner city. Specifically, efforts to improve con
-
flict behavior might involve preventing, detecting, and treating attentional
fatigue. For example, conflict behavior might be improved by preventing
attentional fatigue through reducing the attentional demands of the environ
-
ment by means of soundproofing, reducing crowding, and increasing safety.
Similarly, providing insurance against the drastic life changes to which the
poor are most susceptible might also help prevent fatigue and fatigue-related
aggression. DSB and other tests of attentional functioning might help detect
fatigue and let individuals know when they are most at risk for aggressive or
violent behavior. Finally, strategies for treating attentional fatigue, including
taking green breaks and getting more sleep, might help prevent
fatigue-related aggression.
Kuo, Sullivan / AGGRESSION AND VIOLENCE 565
UNDERSTANDING THE EFFECTS OF NATURAL
ENVIRONMENTS ON HUMAN BEHAVIOR
This work contributes to our understanding of the psychological effects of
natural environments in a number of ways. First, the findings provide strong
evidence for a potential effect of nature that has been largely unexplored—
reducing aggression and violence. Previous research on the effects of nature
has focused on its effects on mood, recovery from stress, everyday function
-
ing, and attention (e.g., Cimprich, 1993; Hartig et al., 1991; Hull & Michael,
1995; Ulrich et al., 1991), and only two previous studies have hinted at a
potential effect of nature on aggression (Mooney & Nicell, 1992; Rice &
Remy, 1998). This study demonstrates a link between nature and reduced
aggression in an experimental design and provides clear support for the pro
-
posed mechanism of attentional restoration. In doing so, it extends attention
restoration theory and shows that the theory has implications for a concern as
important and socially relevant as levels of aggression and violence in
inner-city neighborhoods.
A second contribution is to raise an interesting question with regard to the
benefits of residential nature. In these data, the vegetation around apartment
buildings was significantly related to measures of attentional functioning but
not to measures of stress or positive mood. This is consistent with the previ-
ous literature: Other studies have found significant relationships between
residential vegetation and measures of attention (R. Kaplan, 2001 [this
issue]; Tennessen & Cimprich, 1995), and to date we are unaware of any stud-
ies demonstrating links between residential nature and either stress or posi-
tive mood. Are there in fact no relationships between residential nature and
stress or residential nature and mood? Perhaps these relationships exist and
the procedures in this study simply failed to uncover them. It also seems pos
-
sible that mood and stress are simply not affected by highly habituated forms
of nature. This seems a fascinating question for future research.
A third contribution of this work concerns the density and extent of nature
necessary to convey benefits. It might seem implausible that a few trees and
grass in relatively small areas outside public housing apartment buildings
could have any clear effects on residents’ levels of aggression. Yet this low
dose of vegetation has been shown to have far-reaching and positive effects
on a number of other important outcomes, including residents’ management
of major life issues (Kuo, 2001) and neighborhood social ties (Kuo et al.,
1998; Kweon et al., 1998). Future research might explore how the benefits of
contact with nature vary as a function of the density of vegetation.
A final contribution of this work is to suggest that the geographic distribu
-
tion of natural areas matters. Although large central or regional parks are
566 ENVIRONMENT AND BEHAVIOR / July 2001
clearly important components of urban design, the results of this study sug
-
gest that a few major parks are not enough. All residents of RTH live within 2
miles of one of the most extensive examples of urban nature in North Amer
-
ica—Lake Michigan and the parks along Lake Shore Drive in Chicago. Yet
the proximity to these tremendous natural resources is apparently insufficient
to keep all residents of RTH at similar levels of attentional functioning. Per
-
haps, as Rachel Kaplan (1985) suggested, cities should be designed with
nature at every doorstep.
NOTES
1. Given that residents do have some choice of apartment within Robert Taylor Homes
(RTH), it seemed possible (although not likely) that better functioning and therefore potentially
less aggressive residents might self-select into greener buildings. As a check on that possibility,
participants were asked what criteria were important to them in choosing a place to live: Of 118
responses, 93% were clearly unrelated to levels of vegetation (47% of respondents “just needed a
place;” 12% desired safety or cleanliness; 10% were concerned about access to work, school, or
family; 9% were concerned about cost; 8% were concerned about space or number of bedrooms;
6% wanted an apartment on a “low floor,” perhaps because of the frequency of elevator malfunc-
tions; and 1 participant mentioned sense of community). Seven percent of respondents expressed
concerns that might be interpreted as related to levels of vegetation (e.g., location, neighbor-
hood, area, and environment), and 1 participant of the 145 specifically reported that a “natural
setting” was important to her. However, analyses indicated that these participants lived in no
greener areas on average than the remainder of the participants in this study. Thus, the level of
nearby nature does not seem to be an important criterion in residents’ selection of apartments
within RTH; moreover, it appears that the level of choice residents have in selecting an apartment
is sufficiently low that even residents who might strongly value access to nature are no more
likely to be assigned to a green area.
2. Eligibility requirements for public housing and some other forms of public aid favor single
mothers. This creates a pressure for families not to list adult males as official residents (and for
these unofficial residents not to participate in studies about life at RTH).
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... Multiple studies show the positive outcomes resulting from social contact, including increased feelings of communal belonging, increased social cohesion, and reductions in local crime rates (Kuo and Sullivan, 2001;Francis et al., 2012). Further, most studies find a positive connection between increased social cohesion and improvements in several mental health issues, reduced morbidity, and reduced mortality rates (Hartig et al., 2014;Braubach et al., 2017). ...
... This finding is supported by Nguyen and colleagues (2021), who further emphasised the positive effects of natural soundscapes and forest-like features on stress reduction. Such effects might be most pronounced when taller trees are present but potentially non-existent in UGS with sparse vegetation (Kuo et al., 1998;Kuo and Sullivan, 2001). Emphasising these findings on the potential of natural surroundings, Hartig et al. (2014) find that visually displeasing structures, such as badly-maintained adjacent buildings or traffic infrastructures, may decrease relaxation. ...
... (Knobel, Dadvand, et al., 2021) Two of the four indicators included in the category of social spaces could be part of the categories of facilities and amenities; however, this category has been devised separately to allow for a distinct measurement of the salutogenic potentiality in the realm of social cohesion, which would have otherwise been underrepresented in the final analysis. As mentioned in section 2, multiple studies have shown the positive effects resulting from interactive spaces, including increased feelings of communal belonging, social cohesion (Kuo et al., 1998;Vries et al., 2013) and crime rate reduction (Kuo and Sullivan, 2001;Francis et al., 2012). The indicators used to assess social space were (1) the frequency of planned events and markets (Dizdaroglu, 2021), (2) the provision of dedicated social facilities like barbecue areas, fireplaces, chess or picnic tables (Knobel, Dadvand, et al., 2021), and (3) the provision of communal amenities like notice boards (ibid.). ...
Thesis
Urban green spaces (UGS) can produce health-improving (salutogenic) and equigenic effects that narrow the health gap between disadvantaged and affluent neighbourhoods. Yet, the magnitude of such effects relies on the quality of a UGS. Various studies have found UGS quality to be worse in low-income neighbourhoods. Thus, the equigenic potential is often negated. This thesis examines if these findings can be replicated within the city of Stockholm. For this, two quality domains were identified. (1) The accessibility to a UGS determines the exposure to health benefits, as barriers to entry afford usage only to some individuals. (2) The salutogenic potentiality, determined by various qualities, influences the UGS’s ability to produce health-improving effects. For the assessment of these domains, the UGS Quality Audit Tool (UQAT) was developed, which uses GIS analysis and in-situ audits to assess 64 indicators. The UQAT produces an accessibility score, salutogenic potentiality score, total score, and individual inclusivity scores. In this thesis, the tool was used in a comparative case study of twelve UGS in six Stockholm neighbourhoods. The UGS were sorted into three groups depending on their neighbourhood’s socioeconomic status (SES) and health resilience. The aim was to determine whether the quality of the UGS differed significantly between groups. The results replicate findings from other countries, showing a significantly lower salutogenic potentiality for the UGS in low-SES neighbourhoods. Similarly, UGS gender-inclusivity scores were also significantly lower in low-SES neighbourhoods. While similar tendencies were identified concerning salutogenic potentiality and health resilience, these findings were not conclusive. Lastly, no significant relations to neighbourhood health or SES were found for accessibility or the other inclusivity categories. The findings suggest that investments into the quality of UGS in low-SES neighbourhoods are needed to create a more equitable and inclusive Stockholm.
... In light of the pervasiveness and effects of depression, stress, and anxiety for over 30 years, experts have taken the connection with green space, a critical constituent of many environments. Plenty of studies have shown positive associations between green space and reductions in stress (Lafortezza et al., 2009;Nielsen & Hansen, 2007;Thompson et al., 2012;Van den Berg et al., 2010) and in the risk of psychosocial and psychological stress-related diseases (Adevi & Lieberg, 2012;Francis et al., 2012;Kuo & Sullivan, 2001). Studies indicate that green space is pertinent to reductions in depression (Berman et al., 2012;Beyer et al., 2014;Maas et al., 2009;McCaffrey, 2007), anxiety (Beyer et al., 2014;Maas et al., 2009;Mackay & Neill, 2010), and anger and aggression (Bodin & Hartig, 2003;Kuo & Sullivan, 2001;Ulrich, 1979). ...
... Plenty of studies have shown positive associations between green space and reductions in stress (Lafortezza et al., 2009;Nielsen & Hansen, 2007;Thompson et al., 2012;Van den Berg et al., 2010) and in the risk of psychosocial and psychological stress-related diseases (Adevi & Lieberg, 2012;Francis et al., 2012;Kuo & Sullivan, 2001). Studies indicate that green space is pertinent to reductions in depression (Berman et al., 2012;Beyer et al., 2014;Maas et al., 2009;McCaffrey, 2007), anxiety (Beyer et al., 2014;Maas et al., 2009;Mackay & Neill, 2010), and anger and aggression (Bodin & Hartig, 2003;Kuo & Sullivan, 2001;Ulrich, 1979). Additionally, green space is related to positive physiological health (Akpinar et al., 2016;Herzog & Strevey, 2008;Park et al., 2008;Zhang et al., 2015). ...
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A recently conducted study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention encouraged access to urban green space for the public over the prevalence of COVID-19 in that exposure to urban green space can positively affect the physical and mental health, including the reduction rate of heart disease, obesity, stress, stroke, and depression. COVID-19 has foregrounded the inadequacy of green space in populated cities. It has also highlighted the extant inequities so as to unequal access to urban green space both quantitatively and qualitatively. In this regard, it seems that one of the problems related to Malatya is the uncoordinated distribution of green space in different parts of the city. Therefore, knowing the quantity and quality of these spaces in each region can play an effective role in urban planning. The aim of the present study has been to evaluate urban green space per capita and to investigate its distribution based on the population of the districts of Battalgazi county in Malatya city through developing an integrated methodology (remote sensing and geographic information system). Accordingly, in Google Earth Engine by images of Sentinel-1 and PlanetScope satellites, it was calculated different indexes (NDVI, EVI, PSSR, GNDVI, and NDWI). The data set was prepared and then by combining different data, clas-sification was performed according to support vec-tor machine algorithm. From the landscaping maps obtained, the map was selected with the highest accu-racy (overall accuracy: 94.43; and kappa coefficient: 90.5). Finally, by the obtained last map, the distribu-tion of urban green space per capita and their func-tions in Battalgazi county and its districts were evalu-ated. The results of the study showed that the existing urban green spaces in the Battalgazi/Malatya were not distributed evenly on the basis of the districts. The per capita of urban green space is twenty-four regions which is more than 9m2 and in twenty-three ones is less than 9m2. The recommendation of this study was that Türkiye city planners and landscape designers should replan and redesign the quality and equal dis-tribution of urban green spaces, especially during and following COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, draw-ing on the Google Earth Engine cloud system, which has revolutionized GIS and remote sensing, is recom-mended to be used in land use land cover modeling. It is straightforward to access information and analyze them quickly in Google Earth Engine. The published codes in this study makes it possible to conduct fur-ther relevant studies.
... Moreover, greenness shows the strongest inhibitory effect on violent crime (Table 7). The potential violent offender is possibly usually emotional, but green space can reduce feelings of anger, frustration and aggression (Kuo & Sullivan, 2001), thereby reducing violent crime. However, greenness has a positive influence on crime in the overall trend in the uptown, where high greenness is due to the existence of Central Park, because regions with high greenness can provide hiding places for criminal activities (Nasar, Fisher, & Grannis, 1993) and even obstruct people's view (Donovan & Prestemon, 2012). ...
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Assessing the effect of street built environment on crime occurrence is a hot research subject in environmental criminology, which also plays an important role in crime prevention or even urban planning. Recent development in emerging geotagged big data (e.g., the street-view images) makes it possible to quantify the influence of street built environment on crime. However, previous studies have often neglected the multiscale problem in exploring the association between environmental features and crime occurrence. Therefore, in this study, a multiscale analysis method was proposed to quantitatively study the influence of street built environment on crime occurrence using street-view images. Firstly, inspired by the theory of crime prevention through environmental design, we established a multiscale descriptive framework for environmental features with simultaneous consideration of the physical features and scene perception of street built environment. Then, a multiscale geographically weighted regression model was used to explore the spatial scale of influence for different streetscape features on crime occurrence. Experimental results indicated that the proposed method could reflect the difference of the spatial scale of various environmental features on crime, thereby uncovering the association between environmental features and crime occurrence with better accuracy. This study may enrich the theory in environmental criminology, and it provides useful insights for crime prevention through urban streetscape design.
... Yapılan çalışma sonucuna göre doğa manzaralı evlerde yaşayanların, doğal manzaradan yoksun evlerde yaşayanlara göre, görevlerini daha disiplinli yaptıkları ve yüksek odaklanmaya sahip oldukları belirlenmiştir. Ayrıca, yeşil alanlara yakın apartmanlarda yaşayan bireylerde, yeşil alanlara yakın olmayan apartmanlarda yaşayan bireylere göre daha düşük düzeyde saldırganlık ve şiddet davranışı olduğunu ortaya koyan çalışmalar (Kuo, Sullivan, 2001) da vardır. Dolayısıyla, doğanın onarıcı özelliklerinden yoksun bireylerin aşırı derecede agresif oldukları ve olacakları belirtilmektedir. ...
Chapter
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Doğal ortamın insan psikolojisi üzerindeki etkileri, sosyal bilimlerin genelinde ama özellikle çevre psikolojisi odaklı çalışmalarda öne çıkmaktadır. Çevrenin insan psikolojisini hem pozitif hem de negatif yönde etkilediğine ilişkin birçok olgusal bağıntılar örnek verilebilir. Afet bölgelerindeki afetzedelerin çaresizliğini ya da sahil kasabasının müdavimi sayılan martıları seyrederken aldığı ilhamla güfteler sıralayan bir edebiyatçının hissettiği duygular da çevrenin psikolojik yansımalarına örnektir. Bu bağlamda insanların ruhen olumsuz etkilendikleri yerlerin yanı sıra, olumlu etkilendikleri yerlerde ise huzur ve rahatlama hissiyle büyülendikleri yerler de gündelik yaşamın olağan örneklerindendir. Nitekim çevrenin etkileriyle ilgili olarak, tarih boyunca insan psikolojisi ve fiziksel sağlığı üzerinde olumlu etkileri olduğu değişik kaynaklarda ifade edilmektedir.
... International Journal of Health Geographics (2022) 21:6 of depressive symptoms [35,36] and aggressivity [37] in adolescents, both of which have been identified as potential risk factors of DV perpetration [7] as well as victimization [8]. A study on intimate partner violence also found that rates of aggression were lower in neighborhoods characterized by a high level of greenness [38]. Access to green spaces, such as public parks, could promote participation in physical and recreational activities and encourage social interactions [39]. ...
Article
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Background Dating violence (DV) is a public health problem that could have serious repercussions for the health and well-being of a large number of adolescents. Several neighborhood characteristics could influence these behaviors, but knowledge on such influences is still limited. This study aims at (1) evaluating the associations between neighborhood characteristics and DV, and (2) assessing how spatial scale influences the estimations of the latter associations. Methods The Québec Health Survey of High School Students (2016–2017) was used to describe DV. Neighborhoods were operationalized with polygon-based network buffers of varying sizes (ranging from 250 to 1000 m). Multiple data sources were used to describe neighborhood characteristics: crime rate, alcohol outlet density (on-premises and off-premises), walkability, greenness, green spaces density, and youth organizations density. Gendered-stratified logistic regressions were used for assessing the association between neighborhood characteristics and DV. Results For boys, off-premises alcohol outlet density (500 m) is associated with an increase in perpetrating psychological DV. Crime rate (500 m) is positively associated with physical or sexual DV perpetration, and crime rate (250 m) is positively associated with physical or sexual DV victimization. Greenness (1000 m) has a protective effect on psychological DV victimization. For girls, walkability (500 m to 1000 m) is associated with a decrease in perpetrating and experiencing psychological DV, and walkability (250 m) is negatively associated with physical or sexual DV victimization. Conclusions Several neighborhood characteristics are likely to influence DV, and their effects depend on the form of DV, gender, and spatial scale. Public policies should develop neighborhood-level interventions by improving neighborhood living conditions.
... In the urban landscape, gardens, as well as other close-to-nature vegetation, can create a retreat from the noise and restlessness of city life (Brown et al., 2000). In accordance to this, numerous studies document that city dwellers can reduce stress, fear and anger as well as blood pressure and muscle tensions by "simply looking at a plant" (Brown et al. 2000, p. 28;Kaplan, 2001;Kuo et al., 2001b;Moore et al., 2007;Catanzaro et al., 2004). Thus, views on nature can have a restorative effect because they evoke a feeling of release or escape from daily life (Kaplan, 1992;Hynes et al., 2004). ...
Thesis
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Worldwide, the percentage of people living in urban areas will increase from 50% in 2010 to nearly 70% by 2050. While in many parts of the world, human development is expanding rapidly on the urban fringe and at the expense of rural hinterlands, some cities decided to focus on densifying the built environment. Since densification leads to a quantitative reduction of open spaces, the pressure on the remaining ones is significantly increasing. On the one hand, open spaces should meet the requirements of its users, on the other hand, they have to fulfil expectations regarding climate adaptation and operating efficiency. Thus, to satisfy these claims, urban open spaces have to be endowed with multi-functionality. Urban agriculture, in turn, offers indispensable opportunities to solve - or at least deal with - urban challenges regarding sustainability, health, economy, society, urban design and local food supply. Due to its cross-cutting and multi-dimensional nature, it has the potential to meet a good many of requirements on open spaces. Nonetheless, it still inherits a rather low visibility on the agenda of urban planners. This situation could stem from various reasons, whereby a gap in the understanding of urban agriculture’s capability seems to be a major cause. To this day, there exists no comprehensive literature on the subject - neither a holistic view on urban agriculture’s multifaceted benefits nor its impacts on urban open spaces. Thus, the purpose of this study is to tap urban agriculture’s potential and to emphasise its raison d’être in sustainable urban planning.
... While these restoration efforts are believed to improve the aesthetics and physical attributes of low-income neighborhoods, recent studies have shown that restoring vacant lots may also improve the health of nearby residents Kondo et al., 2016;Kuo and Sullivan, 2001;South et al., 2018). In Philadelphia, a randomized control study showed that removing trash and debris, planting new grass and trees, and installing fences to create a park-like setting were associated with a 29% reduction in gun violence and over a 40% reduction in depressive symptoms among adult residents who lived near the restored lots South et al., 2018). ...
Article
Urban green spaces have previously been linked to reduction in crime and improvements in neighborhood environments. This study considered if the Care-A-Lot (CAL) program in Baltimore City, which incentivizes local community groups to maintain and green vacant lots, reduces violent and property crime. Compared to a 2016-2017 baseline, city block groups with CAL programs saw a significantly larger decrease in crime compared to matched block groups with no CAL programs both in 2018 and 2019. These results were found to be robust through a series of sensitivity analyses and add to the literature stressing the positive social impact of green spaces.
Chapter
Evidence suggests that children spend much less time playing outdoors engaging in self-directed play than their parents did (Moss in Natural childhood. Park Lane Press, 2012; Tandon et al. in Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine 166:707–712, 2012), perhaps as much as 71% less (Brown in Scholarpedia 9:30,449, 2014). School recess time has also decreased, with childen of color and children living in poverty having even less access to recess (London in Kappan 101:48–52, 2019). However, time spent in natural settings leads to improved mental well-being, cognitive function, and emotional regulation (Burdette & Whitaker in Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine 159:46–50, 2005; Whitebread in Child and Adolescent Health 1:167–169, 2017). By teachers incorportating play-based outdoor learning experiences into their science instruction, children can have playful experiences in nature, reaping the benefits of being outdoors while gaining content knowledge and developing scientific thinking skills. This chapter focuses on the relationship between different types of play and specific science learning behaviors as children engaged in outdoor play during nine family play events in the Greater Toledo, Ohio Metropolitan Area in the U.S.
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Research suggests that the formation of neighborhood social ties (NSTs) may substantially depend on the informal social contact which occurs in neighborhood common spaces, and that in inner‐city neighborhoods where common spaces are often barren no‐man's lands, the presence of trees and grass supports common space use and informal social contact among neighbors. We found that for 145 urban public housing residents randomly assigned to 18 architecturally identical buildings, levels of vegetation in common spaces predict both use of common spaces and NSTs; further, use of common spaces mediated the relationship between vegetation and NSTS. In addition, vegetation and NSTs were significantly related to residents' senses of safety and adjustment. These findings suggest that the use and characteristics of common spaces may play a vital role in the natural growth of community, and that improving common spaces may be an especially productive focus for community organizing efforts in inner‐city neighborhoods.
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In this article, we attempt to distinguish between the properties of moderator and mediator variables at a number of levels. First, we seek to make theorists and researchers aware of the importance of not using the terms moderator and mediator interchangeably by carefully elaborating, both conceptually and strategically, the many ways in which moderators and mediators differ. We then go beyond this largely pedagogical function and delineate the conceptual and strategic implications of making use of such distinctions with regard to a wide range of phenomena, including control and stress, attitudes, and personality traits. We also provide a specific compendium of analytic procedures appropriate for making the most effective use of the moderator and mediator distinction, both separately and in terms of a broader causal system that includes both moderators and mediators. (46 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Thesis
Burnout, although a popular theme in the caregiving literature, is not a well conceptualized construct. The present study recasts the challenges posed by caregiving in attentional terms, interpreting many of the symptoms associated traditionally with the burning out process as unnecessary but predictable outcomes of an uninterrupted cycle of mental fatigue. The study occupies an area at the convergence of coping research and clinical intervention. In addition to distinguishing some of the component parts of the fatigue experience, the study explores the potential for intervention within the context of leisure time and recreational activity. Findings identify different patterns of activities and approaches to recreational time that act to amplify or to mediate processes of fatigue. A number of modest--but powerful--possibilities for restoration are identified. The consequences of different approaches to use of recreational time are described. Escapist leisure engagements--those that involve high levels of distraction and allow little capacity for reflection--appear to be ineffective solutions to difficult life situations and actually appear to incur negative psychological effects. By contrast, restorative activities--that appear to be those that engage attention, but yet still provide room for reflection--influence functioning in a positive way and provide participants with a predictable resource for restoration and renewal. Leisure dysfunction, is identified as a critically important condition that acts to preclude restorative opportunities. Failure to acknowledge its presence has significant implications. It both hampers efforts to engage individuals in anticipating the costs of psychologically draining or challenging activities and impedes the development of plans to manage these costs. The restorative context is contrasted with more traditional psychotherapeutic approaches and suggestions are made regarding the inclusion of restorative experiences into explicitly therapeutic contexts. Directions for accessible interventions both at the individual and agency level are addressed and areas for further investigation outlined.
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Chapter
Many environment—behavior (EB) researchers are interested in the effects of the physical environment on human behavior. However, many researchers appreciate the theoretical and methodological importance of scrutinizing other variables that can intercede in the EB relation (Evans & Cohen, 1987; Moore, 1988; Wachs, 1986; Wohlwill, 1983). Typically, one speaks of other variables that can moderate or mediate EB relations. Moderator variables are “third” variables that alter or qualify EB relations. In contrast, mediator variables interpret, or explain, EB relations.
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