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The psychology of place attachment

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272 | CHAPTER 1: e Psychology of Place Attachment
What is Place Attachment?
Defining Place Attachment: Person Place
Process Framework
Related Constructs: Place Identity and Place
Dependence
Place Attachment Measures and
Methods
Self-reported Place Attachment
Qualitative Approaches to Place Attachment
Other Measures and Methods
Influences on Place Attachment
Personal Factors
e Social Context
e Physical Context
Culture and Ethnic Factors
Psychological Outcomes of Place
Attachment
Place Perception
Place Preservation and Pro-environmental
Behavior
Place Loss
Well-Being
eories of Place Attachment
Developmental eories of Place Attachment
Place Attachment: Parallel with Interpersonal
Attachment?
Place Processes
e Meaning-Mediated Model
Stages of Place Attachment Disruption
Place Attachment and
Environmental Design
Coee Shop Design for Place Attachment
Place Attachment in Retirement
Communities
 :
e Psychology of
Place Attachment
    
CHAPTER 1: e Psychology of Place Attachment | 273
“Home is not simply a mark upon a map any more than a river’s
just water. It is the place at the centre of the compass from
which every arrow radiates and where the heart is fixed. It is a
force that forever draws us back or lures us on. For where the
home is, there lies hope. And a future waits. And everything is
possible.
HEIDI THOMAS, Call the Midwife
BBC Television Series, Season 2, Episode 7
           , . “Work
wouldn’t be the same without you. Any thoughts on the move now that you’ve gotten to know the town
a bit better?”
Amber frowned. “It was good that we were able to help set things up in person. But to be honest, I’m
still undecided. ey want a response by Monday.
e seatbelt sign lit up. “Good afternoon ladies and gentleman. We are nearing our destination.
ank you for ying with us today. Prepare the cabin for landing.
Jane pressed her forehead to the window and looked down. e city appeared miniature.
Amber leaned over to take a look. “I sometimes forget how much I love this place until I’m away
from it.
“How long have you lived here?” asked Jane.
About 15 years now. When I moved here with my parents, it felt familiar like we instantly t
in to our neighbourhood. It’s still so strange that they sold their house and moved downtown. I wish I
could see the inside again. Our place was west of City Hall. It’s right next to that big pond. See it?”
Jane nodded. “I love that part of town. So much character.
“Growing up, it seemed to be the most perfect neighbourhood in the world. We’d often play down in
the ravine when we were kids. ese days, I bring the dog there for walks sometimes, and it feels like
stepping into the past.
“I know what you mean,” said Jane. “ere’s where I play soccer. Oh—and there’s the inner harbor.
Tom and I went kayaking on our rst date. And then there’s Tom’s grandfather’s house, which he just
inherited. If you look north west, you can see a chain of islands. at’s where we go camping sometimes.
It’s like this city helps you to map out your life.
is is a great city,” said Amber. “Leaving for a new job would be really tough.
“I know,” said Jane. “I’m pretty sure that I’ll never move, if I can help it.
274 | CHAPTER 9: e Psychology of Place Attachment
 

    

—a place that you really feel con-
nected to. is could be any type of place, from any time,
for any reason. Perhaps it is a childhood home, a favorite
camping spot, a city you long to return to, or the country
where you were born. Maybe it is your bedroom, a particu-
lar park bench, a place of spiritual signicance, or the place
where you rst met your signicant other. Most people can
readily conjure up at least one place that is important to
them. is cognitive-emotional bond that individuals de-
velop towards places is known as place attachment.
After we have long or intense experiences with them,
places can acquire great personal meaning. In contrast,
most of the appraisals already discussed may be made
after brief exposure to a place, although our appraisals of
its quality or beauty might change after we have had the
benet of longer experience with it. Place attachment has
some serious implications; it can even kill. In a later chap-
ter we shall see that a major reason people often do not
abandon locations that are prone to deadly natural haz-
ards such as oods, earthquakes, and hurricanes is their
deeply felt connection to a place.
Place is the setting for life’s actions. It is where we con-
duct our day-to-day activities, where we journey to, and
where we and our ancestors have traversed. Because of
this, place attachment nds a home across disciplines, al-
beit sometimes by dierent names or related constructs.
Humanistic geographers, for example, have described
topophilia, meaning love of place, and “sense of place,
which is often dened similarly to place attachment.1,2
Sociologists and community psychologists discuss “com-
munity ties” and “sense of community.3 Indeed, these dis-
ciplines generated the bases of research on aective ties to
place.
Environmental psychologists were drawn to the topic
in the 1980s and 1990s, as part of the overarching inquiry
into the interactions between the physical environment
and the individual. Earlier work focused more on territori-
ality and residential satisfaction, but since then, psycholog-
ical research on place attachment has expanded. For exam-
ple, a literature search on PsycInfo using the terms “place
attachment” and “sense of place” published in psychology
journals revealed that place attachment research has nearly
quadrupled in the past 20 years. Many of these studies
have aimed to dene exactly what the nature of person-
place bonds seems to be. is has resulted in many types
and subtypes of place attachment which, once taken to-
gether, give a sense of the variety of attachments that can
be developed towards meaningful places.
Defining Place Attachment: Person,
Process, Place Framework
       of the many de-
nitions of place attachment, we organized them into a tri-
partite framework, consisting of person, place, and process
dimensions (Figure 9-1).4 us, given any place attach-
ment, the framework leads us to consider who is attached,
what they are attached to, and how (psychologically) they
are expressing their attachment.
Who is Attached? e person dimension describes the
people who are attached, and whether their attachment
rests in individually based meanings (e.g., personal experi-
ence), collectively based meanings (e.g., cultural or religious
signicance) or a combination of both. Specically, the at-
tachment may be at the individual level when the place is
meaningful for personal reasons, such as the memorable
events that occurred there. For example, someone might be
attached to Montreal because that is where she lived when
she rst moved away from her family home to go to uni-
versity, and thus where she experienced the milestones of
young adulthood. e attachment may be at the collective
level when the place is meaningful as determined by group
members; for example, many Jews are attached to Israel
because the religion has designated this place as sacred.5,6
How Are ey Attached? e second dimension is the
psychological process dimension, which refers to how
we express and experience our attachments through aect,
cognition, and behavior. Bonds toward a place include an
aective, or emotional component, and many place attach-
ment researchers dene place attachment as having some
sort of emotional bond. Most of these emotions toward
the important place are positive, such as feeling love, happi-
ness, joy, pride, and contentment when going to (or think-
ing about) one’s place.7-11 However, individuals can some-
times hold negative or ambivalent feelings toward their
important places when they represent painful memories or
when the place has disappeared or changed.12
CHAPTER 9: e Psychology of Place Attachment | 275
Our ties to place are also cognitive, because they include
the knowledge, memories, and beliefs that make a place
meaningful. Cognitively, as one becomes attached to a
place, they develop a mental representation of that place,
containing a mental map and route knowledge of the
place’s arrangement,13 as well as other information such as
knowledge about the history of the place, and particular
place aordances. Other than mental representations of
structural and symbolic aspects of the place, cognitive con-
nections to place involve memories of the place, its people,
and the events that have occurred there. 14,15
Place attachment is also expressed through particular
behaviors. When attached to places where they do not
live, people often voluntarily visit that place, sometimes at
much cost. Some people return to the same vacation spot
year after year. Others make religious pilgrimages to sacred
places.16 For example, most Muslims try to make a pilgrim-
age to Mecca at least once in their lives if they are physi-
cally and nancially able.
Interestingly, attachment behaviors can emerge as part
of design and construction eorts. New places are some-
times built to resemble residents’ former homes or com-
munities. In one study of American Mormons living in
Mexico, settlements featured wide streets, elds in town,
and manicured lawns, rather than traditional Mexican fea-
tures.17 Place attachment also plays a role in the decision to
restore places to their original states rather than building
anew. After facing destruction from a tornado, the com-
munity of Xenia, Ohio was rebuilt close to its former state,
reecting the residents’ desire to revive Xenia as they knew
it, instead of reinventing it anew.18
To What Are ey Attached? e third dimension of
place attachment is the place dimension: what is it about
the place that we are attached to? Attachments can center
on a variety of place types of dierent scales, but research-
ers tend to emphasize the social and physical qualities of
the important place, given that place attachments can be
rooted in social ties or can stem from aesthetic or land-
scape features. ese social and physical qualities will be
elaborated upon later.
Related Constructs: Place Identity
and Place Dependence
  
  . Each taps a slightly dierent aspect of how we
relate to the important places in our lives. Besides place
attachment, two others deserve mention.
Place Identity. Although place identity is related to place
attachment,19,20 it is distinct: place identity is about one’s
incorporation of a place into the larger concept of self.21,22
It endows a person with a sense of continuity, self-esteem,
self-ecacy (a sense of being able to get things done), and a
sense of distinctiveness (from people who live elsewhere).23
us, who we are can also include where we are. We give
ourselves names that reect our place attachments: Britain
has its Fenmen, the United States its New Yorkers, and
Canada its Maritimers. University students identify with
their schools, and residents of counties, states, districts,
provinces, and territories identify with these jurisdictions.
At smaller scales, many people identify with their neigh-
borhoods, boroughs, farms, or even houses.
Place Dependence. Sometimes called “functional attach-
ment,” place dependence refers to the ability of a place to
satisfy needs and goals, or the extent to which the physi-
cal characteristics of the place provide the appropriate re-
sources for one’s preferred activities.24, 25 at is, we become
dependent on places when their features are congruent
with our goals. Generic place dependence is attachment to
a certain category of place, based on its function. For ex-
ample, mountain bikers might be attached to communities
that are close to good mountain bike trails (Figure 9-2).
Geographic place dependence is attachment to a particular
place, based on its function. For example, some mountain
bikers might be attached to the Great Divide Mountain
Bike Route, a trail of more than 4,000 km that runs from
Ban, Canada to New Mexico, USA, because it provides
them with optimally challenging terrain.
 - e person-process-place framework
of place attachment (Scannell & Giord, 2010a)..
276 | CHAPTER 9: e Psychology of Place Attachment
  e various definitions of place attach-
ment have been organized into a tripartite
framework, including, person, place, and
psychological process dimensions. A variety
of related concepts, such as topophilia, sense
of place, sense of community, place iden-
tity, and place dependence have also been
proposed.
 
 

      have gen-
erally taken one of two approaches: (1) a quantitative ap-
proach, where the strength and type of the attachment is
translated into numeric terms appropriate for further statis-
tical analyses (e.g., such as investigating correlations among
place attachment and other constructs), or (2) a qualitative
approach, where the varied meanings and personal experi-
ences of the attachment are articulated by individuals, and
then summarized into prominent themes by researchers.
Because each method has its limits, a greater diversity of
approaches to research methods and measurement will be
important for future studies on place attachment.
Self-reported Place Attachment
One method of ascertaining individuals’ feelings, thoughts,
and motivations is simply to ask them. Not all psychologi-
cal constructs can be observed, and survey research oers
a feasible way to gather information about one’s inner
processes. is is especially relevant to place attachment
because its cognitive-emotional elements are not easily ob-
servable.
e majority of place attachment research in environ-
mental psychology measures the strength of the bond
between persons and places with self-reports.26-32 Items
on the Sense of Place Scale assess the degree of various
aspects of attachment to lakeshore property, including af-
fect (e.g., I really miss my lake property when I’m away from
it for too long,”) cognition, conceptualized in their scale as
place identity (“My lake property reects the type of person
I am”), and behavior, conceptualized as place dependence
(“My lake property is the best place for doing the things that
I enjoy most”). 33
e variety of questions and types of attachments as-
sessed in such self-reports reects the plethora of place
attachment denitions that have been proposed.34 After
measuring place attachment this way, researchers could
investigate whether place attachment strength correlates
with other variables, such as particular behaviors, or they
could explore how the various dimensions of place attach-
ment interrelate.
Unfortunately, some self-report based place attachment
studies are weakened by limited measures. Some lack sur-
vey development, standardization, or construct validity.
One study assessed place attachment with a single, ve-
point Likert item: Do you think the area in which you live
is a good place to live?35 is problematic item may bet-
ter cluster with constructs such as neighborhood satisfac-
tion or quality perception rather than place attachment.
Using multi-item, reliable measures with established reli-
ability and validity is essential for better place attachment
research.
Qualitative Approaches to Place Attachment
   that place attachments in-
volve rich subjective meanings that cannot be captured by
self-reports; for this reason, a qualitative approach may be
suitable.36 Similarly, some suggest that qualitative research
is the best type of methodology to investigate place mean-
 - Places of attachment can support
our preferred activities and hobbies.
CHAPTER 9: e Psychology of Place Attachment | 277
ing because it can better represent the depth and complexity
of the bond.37 Whereas quantitative research identies and
predicts phenomena within a sample that will generalize
to a larger population, qualitative research generates a deep
understanding of phenomena, such as through case stud-
ies or ethnographies. Instead of generalizability, concepts
explored through qualitative analyses have transferability;
that is, themes that emerge from data can be thought of as
abstract concepts with potential relevance to other cases.
Person-place concepts have been explored through
semi-structured interviews and other qualitative meth-
odologies. In one study, individuals’ descriptions of place
memories and meanings were coded into themes and used
to develop theories about how place attachment grows.38
In another, the relation between place attachment and mo-
bility was explored through qualitative interviews with 14
respondents.39 Qualitative approaches sometimes combine
interviews with visual methods such as having participants
take photographs, draw, or use maps as points of discus-
sion about their important places.40-42 Although qualita-
tive methodologies have been of great value in the study
of place attachment,43-45 they are limited in their generaliz-
ability to broader populations, and in their ability to expli-
cate the causal aspects of place attachment processes.
Combining qualitative and quantitative approaches
does not solve the problem, but it can be used to balance
some of their strengths and weaknesses. In a study that
used mixed-methods, participants marked places on a map
with tokens of dierent psychological importance weights
(e.g., 5-50) and place values (e.g., aesthetic value, recreation
value, cultural value), and then explained why those places
were meaningful to them.46,47 Such an approach provides
numeric data enriched with a description of place meaning.
Other Measures and Methods
Experiments. Because self-reports and qualitative meth-
ods pose particular limitations, place attachment research-
ers will need to expand their measures and methods. We
have endeavored to begin this expansion in two experi-
ments.48 In the rst, we manipulated place attachment by
having participants either visualize a place to which they
were attached or, for the control group, a place with which
they were familiar but not attached. ose who visualized
a place of attachment reported feeling stronger current lev-
els of self-esteem, meaning, and belonging. Manipulating
place attachment (rather than simply measuring it) allows
researchers to move beyond correlational and qualitative
ndings, into the realm of experiments where causal con-
clusions are more likely to be valid.
In the second study, we adapted a method that had
been used in interpersonal attachment research49 to inves-
tigate whether places of attachment are sought out” fol-
lowing a stressful situation. Each participant provided a
list of names of places to which they were attached, as well
as names of places to which they were not attached. Using
a reaction time based task on the computer, we then mea-
sured seeking out” a place of attachment according to how
quickly participants could identify place attachment words
that appeared on their computer screens.
Not surprisingly, participants responded more quickly
to names of places to which they were attached compared
to names of familiar places, unfamiliar places, or nonsense
words. Making a mistake during the word recognition task
more stressful; this threat slowed their subsequent perfor-
mance for every type of word, but interestingly, it improved
their performance for place attachment words. Making a
mistake is a type of threat that led people to seek comfort
from their place of attachment. is supports the idea that
we cognitively seek out places to which we are attached
when presented with a stressor or threat. Perhaps more
importantly, the task is a measure of place attachment that
taps into automatic processing and therefore oers an al-
ternative to measuring place attachment using self-reports.
Observation. Another way of avoiding some of the biases
associated with self-reports and interviews is to observe
behaviors that likely represent place attachment. One way
to measure behavioral indicators of place attachment is
to count proximity-seeking eorts, such as the frequency
of homesick students calling home.50 In general, however,
observations of place attachment behaviors are lacking.
Field experiments in which place attachment behaviors
are observed in varying conditions would add much to the
construct and internal validity of place attachment and
its processes. A list of observable behaviors that indicate
place attachment has not yet been generated, but would be
a valuable addition to the literature. Which behaviors do
you think would be good indicators of place attachment?
Place attachment research would benet from measur-
ing it in new ways, and using experiments, observations of
people, and other approaches. As a whole, environmental
psychology, like some other areas of psychology, relies too
much on self-reports; this can introduce mono-method
278 | CHAPTER 9: e Psychology of Place Attachment
bias, in which the apparent overlap or agreement between
two measures may be shared because both use the same
methodology.51 To reduce this mono-method bias and
methodological stagnation, it is crucial that place attach-
ment researchers adopt new operationalizations and re-
search designs.
  Place attachment is usually investi-
gated through quantitative self-reports, or
qualitative approaches, such as in-depth in-
terviews. Both methods have their strengths
and weaknesses, but one notable weakness
shared by both is their limited ability to make
causal inferences. Experimental method-
ologies where participants are randomly
assigned to various conditions, and place at-
tachment is manipulated or measured in new
ways, would therefore add much to the valid-
ity of place attachment research findings, and
would help environmental psychology in gen-
eral escape the trap of the mono-method bias.

 
Personal Factors
     
   , ,  
; however,
the type and degree of place attachment can dier depend-
ing on various factors, some of which relate to the individ-
ual. Time, congruence, mobility, ownership, social status,
gender, stage of development, sexuality, and personality
dierences are some of these personal factors known to
inuence place attachment.
Time. e most consistent predictor of place attachment
is the amount of time that an individual has spent in the
place.52,53 Place attachments do not usually form instanta-
neously (although this is possible), but tend to strengthen
with accumulated positive interactions, and memories that
accrue after months and years. Over time, the place be-
comes a referent for the past, providing an individual with
a sense of continuity; this phenomenon is known as place-
referent continuity.54
e degree of the individual’s history with the place
shapes the nature of the attachment.55 People with little or
no attachment, such as tourists, have a supercial sense
of place, in which positive feelings rest on aesthetic or en-
tertaining features of the place. Others, such as young chil-
dren or seasonal visitors, have a developing, yet still weak
bond called a partial sense of place that includes positive
feelings without a commitment to stay. Longer-term resi-
dents develop a more stable bond called a personal sense
of place. ese residents typically possess more local
knowledge, larger social networks, and greater community
involvement. Stronger still is an ancestral sense of place,
the bond that develops among residents who were raised
in the place, and that persists even if the person should
have to leave it. Finally, the most intense bond is a cultural
sense of place, whereby the place is historically connected
to one’s tribe or cultural group. For example, Maoris in
New Zealand may have a cultural sense of place that is
deeper than that experienced by non-Maoris. Residential
status also has implications for place identity; natives tend
to have similar degrees of place attachment and identity,
whereas non-natives tend to have lower levels of place
identity than attachment.56
Congruence. Although time certainly plays a role in place
attachment, it is not always required; sometimes place at-
tachments form more quickly, almost like love at rst sight.
is is more likely to occur when individuals experience
congruence; the term place-congruent continuity de-
scribes the sense that a particular place ts with aspects of
the self.57 A newcomer to a rural lake town in British Co-
lumbia once told me about his sense of instant connection
to the place: “I drove my car around the bend and saw the
lake, and at that moment, I knew I was home and would
never move away.” Faster-forming place attachments can
also occur when a person feels that the place has qualities
reminiscent of a previous place of attachment, such as sim-
ilar climate, or other features.58 is is called settlement
identity.59 For example, a prospective homebuyer may seek
out a single family dwelling on a cul de sac because her
childhood home was in a similar type of neighborhood
(Figure 9-3). You might take a moment consider the types
of place attachment that you have.
CHAPTER 9: e Psychology of Place Attachment | 279
Mobility. If place attachment generally grows with the
amount of time spent in a place, then does it decline with
increases in mobility? Indeed, some evidence does suggest
that individuals who are more mobile tend to have weaker
place attachment60 and, conversely, that people who are
more attached to a place are less willing to move away.61,62
However, mobility certainly does not always undermine
the experience of place attachment.63,64 One obvious reason
for this is that even when we move, we can maintain con-
nections to place in a variety of ways, such as place elas-
ticity, in which a place is “stretched” closer to the distant
person through communications and media (e.g., Internet,
phone, television), and knowing that (usually) we can re-
turn to the place when we feel the need to.65
In this increasingly mobile world, many of us become
attached to more than one place, forming multiple place
bonds.66 In Sweden, frequent travelers (compared to less
frequent travelers) had stronger attachment to places of
larger scales, such as countries, yet their attachment to
the local communities was as strong as that of the less-
frequent travelers.67 Interestingly, the frequent travelers
actually were more involved in community and local issues
than less-frequent travelers, indicating that their mobility
did not detract from their local place attachment. Others
have also argued that that “roots” (i.e., place attachment)
and “routes” (mobility) are not always at odds.68 For some
people, being away can strengthen ties to home through
homesickness,69 or through appreciating the qualities of
one’s place that may have previously been taken for grant-
ed.70 us, mobility is relevant for place attachment, but it
does not always dilute place bonds (Figure 9-4).
Ownership. Owning predicts place attachment.71-73 ose
who own their place tend to be more attached, although
the direction of this relation is unclear. Does ownership
itself increase the strength of the attachment through com-
mitment, time, identity, and other factors, or does feeling
an anity for a place lead people to purchase it? Although
ownership is important, it is not essential: people who do
not own or control a place can still be attached to it, as
is seen, for example, among low-income Americans living
in social housing74 or children who play in green spaces
owned by municipalities or landlords.75 Although a lack of
ownership can be disempowering for those in place, it does
not obviate the existence of the bond.
Social Status. rough indicators such as income, occupa-
tion, and level of education, one’s social status is related to
place attachment. For a long time, place attachment was
assumed to be at odds with social status; for example, se-
curing a good job can necessitate moving away from a place
to which one is attached. e career path in academia often
requires moving to distant universities before attaining a
long-term position as a professor. Perhaps because of this,
place attachment remains weaker among the highly edu-
cated.76
More recently, however, this view has been challenged,
after considering that the type of place attachment makes a
dierence.77 People stronger in what has been called every-
day rootedness,” in which attachment to place is taken for
granted tend to have lower levels of education.78 However,
people with stronger “ideological rootedness,” in which
 - We can be attached to certain types of places,
such houses on culs-de-sac, rather than to specific places.
 - Mobility and place attachment are not always at odds.
280 | CHAPTER 9: e Psychology of Place Attachment
individuals select their place of attachment and are more
involved in the community, tend to be more highly edu-
cated. erefore, although social status can be linked to
higher rates of mobility and weaker local ties, those with
high socioeconomic status also tend to be homeowners
who are able to select where they live.79
Gender. is is another personal factor that can inuence
the meaning and strength of place attachment, although
sometimes it does not matter.80 Within traditional (patri-
archal) gender roles, home may be a haven for men, but
a workplace for women.81 Despite this possible ambivalent
experience of home for women, their degree of attachment
is not always weaker. In Spain, if not elsewhere, women
report stronger place attachment than do men at three spa-
tial levels (i.e., home, neighborhood, and city).82 e place
attachment of women is more often social, whereas men’s
attachment is more often based on activities.83 erefore,
the relation between gender and place attachment is com-
plex, and requires further work to disentangle these dis-
crepant ndings.
Development. Place attachment is relevant to a person’s de-
velopmental needs. Certainly it is important for children’s
development;84 a child’s favorite places can support play,
mastery, and exploration85 (Figure 9-5), as well as problem-
solving and emotion-regulation.86 In addition, the favorite
places selected by children are inuenced by their range of
exploration, their rural or urban residency, their familiar-
ity with and previous exposure to, various environments,
and the environmental preferences of their peers.87,88 is
varies with temperament: among boys attending a sum-
mer camp, those with more negative emotions were likely
to select solitary or novel places, whereas those with more
positive emotions were likely to select social places.89 Ado-
lescents with higher academic achievement, fewer social
ties, and fewer opportunities for local employment showed
declining place attachment over a two-year period, but it
remained stable among adolescents who had lower aca-
demic achievement, stronger identication with their par-
ents, and stronger religiosity. 90
Place attachments are relevant to developmental pro-
cesses in young adulthood too, such as providing a suitable
location for raising a family and nding work.91 Deciding
to stay in a place after university is more likely among
those who prioritize wanting a family, and other goals in-
volving aliation with others. In contrast, those for whom
career goals are more central are more likely to decide to
leave. Place preferences therefore interact with one’s moti-
vations and life goals.92 Place attachment (and in particular,
a sense of being connected to place through social bond-
ing) is greater among residents with children.93 Later in life,
place ties also assist with social support,94 as well as with
self-reection and connecting to the past.95
Sexuality. e experience of place attachment can also
dier depending on one’s sexual orientation. For example,
lesbian mothers seem more likely to be attached to their
residential community when the neighborhood has at
least one lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender (LGBT) or-
ganization.96 Not surprisingly, place attachments develop
for places where LGBT individuals feel safe and free from
discrimination.97 In some cases, LGBT individuals have
used place to dene their community values and ultimately
represent their identities beyond that of sexuality; in West
Hollywood, for example, residents have created a commu-
nity that represents not only their sexualities and genders,
but also the creative and progressive political aspects of
their identities.98
Personality dierences. Our dispositions probably also
play a role in place attachment, although this is an under-
studied topic. In Italy, residents with insecure interpersonal
attachment styles (such as being anxious and preoccupied
with, or avoidant towards, close relationships) reported
weaker attachment to their community, fewer neighbor-
hood social bonds, and lower levels of satisfaction.99 In-
terpersonal attachment styles therefore seem to aect the
nature of the bonds with one’s current place, and they also
appear to inuence ties to a former place. Children with
an anxious attachment style are much more likely to expe-
rience homesickness than their secure counterparts, who
 - Children’s favorite places can support their development.
CHAPTER 9: e Psychology of Place Attachment | 281
are more independent and willing to explore while they are
away from home.100
The Social Context
     species that place
attachments vary in their degree of emphasis on the social
features of a place. Places often include people, who inu-
ence the meaning, experiences, and activities inherent in a
place. For example, you might be attached to a place where
you often hang out with close friends, or to a place where
family members live, or a place where you feel you t in
and belong. As a classic study in Boston showed, attach-
ment is not necessarily reduced by the physical decay of a
community,101-103 perhaps because attachment is related to
perceived neighborhood quality, and that certainly includes
the quality of social relations.104
Social Interactions. e prevalence and kind of social in-
teractions that occur in a given place are associated with
place attachment.105,106 For example, as you would expect,
neighborhood attachment is stronger when one lives near
acquaintances, friends,107, 108 and family109, 110(see Figure 9-6).
Frequent social interactions are important, even includ-
ing brief amicable verbal and nonverbal interactions with
neighbors (e.g., smiling, saying hello), but of course more
involved forms of social support, too.111
Social Capital. Sociologists and community psychologists
have similarly emphasized community ties.112-114 Being con-
nected with others in the community can provide indi-
viduals with a variety of advantages, ranging from practical
support (e.g., sharing childcare, tools and equipment, and
carpooling), informational support (e.g., how to perform
certain tasks; where to go to access resources), safety (e.g.,
extra pairs of eyes to mind one’s home when they are away),
and emotional support (e.g., empathy and caring during
times of stress). e advantages that stem from social net-
works are known as social capital. Collectively, a commu-
nity can come together to secure needed resources,115 create
and maintain good environmental quality,116 and respond
during emergencies.117 On the ip side, social disorder is de-
structive to place attachment: Among four types of stress-
ors (physical disorder, social disorder, victimization, and
perception of crime), social disorder had the most negative
impact on neighborhood attachment.118
Homogeneity. How similar or dierent are you from your
neighbors? In general, neighborhood attachment tends to
be stronger when individuals perceive that others are so-
cially homogeneous, or similar to them.119 Living near oth-
ers of similar socioeconomic status, religion, and ethnic or
racial background for example, although not necessary for
place attachment to develop, certainly contribute to one’s
sense of belonging. Social homogeneity also builds social
capital, given that group advantages emerge from proxim-
ity to one’s in-group.
On the other hand, diversity can be an attractive feature
of places, such as when family residents want their chil-
dren to be exposed to dierent ways of life,120 or when im-
migrants are beginning to adjust to living in a new coun-
try.121 Indeed, diversity can be a valued and appreciated
aspect of place.122 Taken together, this research suggests
that commonality and dierence both play a role in the
development and experience of place attachment.
The Physical Context
      
 Some researchers nd little connection with
the local physical environment,123 but others do nd strong
connections. For example, evidence shows that one key fac-
tor is interaction with nature, either through the creation
and maintenance of a garden124 (Figure 9-7) or access to
a natural area.125 Although place attachment may explain
why many residents of contaminated communities do not
move away any more often than residents of un-contami-
nated communities do,126 polluted communities, not sur-
prisingly, attract fewer new residents. Which other physical
features inuence place attachment?
 - Attachment to place can include connections to family.
282 | CHAPTER 9: e Psychology of Place Attachment
Dwelling. People who live in single-family dwellings are
more likely to be “rooted,” longer-term residents with plans
to stay, than people who live in multi-unit residences.127
Better housing quality is obviously important,128 as is
smaller building size,129 possibly because smaller places re-
quire less upkeep and can be more easily personalized. Of
course, dwellings contain many other physical characteris-
tics, but their impact on place attachment has not yet been
thoroughly examined.
Streets and Neighborhoods. At the street level, residents of
culs-de-sac develop more attachment to the neighborhood
than residents of through
streets.130 e noise level
and busyness of the street
is also important. Women
who live on quieter streets
are more likely to have a
sense of belonging to the
neighborhood.131 Busy
streets discourage belong-
ingness by restricting space
appropriation, the feeling
that outdoor areas exist for
the use of residents (as op-
posed to being the domain
of strangers who are merely
passing through).
e presence in neigh-
borhoods of distinctive
features such as unique physical terrains or urban de-
signs is related to greater identication with the place.132
Neighborhoods with main streets that serve as central
corridors with access to amenities tend to have a greater
sense of community than suburban-style neighborhoods
or high-density neighborhoods without prominent main
streets.133 e design of a neighborhood also appears to
foster place attachment. New urbanist communities are
designed with narrow streets, prominent porches, and
small lots, with the idea of discouraging the use of cars
and encouraging walking. Compared with a nearby tradi-
tional suburban community, a new urbanist community
had greater place attachment and sense of community,
perhaps because residents walked more and therefore met
their neighbors more, and because the higher density of
residences allowed for more natural areas to be left in the
community.134
Community Size. Some researchers have wondered wheth-
er the population of a community can inuence place at-
tachment: do small town residents feel more attached than
big city dwellers? e answer to this question is unclear.
Sometimes attachment is found to increase as communi-
ties are smaller,135,136 and other times attachment is found
to increase as communities are larger.137 Perhaps commu-
nity size itself is far less important than other factors, such
as the nature of social ties.138
Scale. Places of attachment vary in their spatial scale, rang-
ing from very small (e.g., a hammock on the deck or a room
in a house; Figure 9-8) to medium (e.g., a house or a park
or a neighborhood) to large (e.g., a country or a continent).
Despite this variation in place types, place attachment has
most commonly been examined at the neighborhood level,
in part because the phenomenon was investigated exten-
sively by community psychologists.139 Unlike community
size, spatial level does seem matter for place attachment,
in a U-shaped pattern: place attachment is usually, but
not always, stronger for home and city than for neighbor-
hood.140-143
Similarity of Physical Features across Places. Physical
features can link together place attachments, or create cat-
egories of places to which people become attached.144 For
example, some of us are city-people; others are suburban-
ites, and yet others are country folk. As noted earlier, settle-
ment identity is attachment to a specic category of place
rather than to a particular place. A person who moves from
 - Studies have found links between
gardening and place attachment.
 - Place attachment
can be to large-scale places,
such as a country, or small scale
places, such as a bedroom.
CHAPTER 9: e Psychology of Place Attachment | 283
one city to another, for example, may experience a smaller
disruption or loss of place attachment than a person who
moves from one settlement type to another, such as from
suburbia to downtown. is allows for a continuity of
place attachment even if one must move. Sometimes the
transfer centers on a certain physical feature, rather than
an entire place category. For example, when a place con-
tains physical features that resemble childhood places,145 or
places from one’s country of origin,146 or a similar climate,
attachment can emerge.
Culture and Ethnic Factors
  
,  ,  . However, its type,
degree, and expression does vary cross-culturally. Setha
Low reviewed the world literature on place attachment and
determined that it has six cultural means of transmission:
genealogy, loss and destruction, ownership, cosmology, pil-
grimage, and narrative.147,148
. Genealogy links persons with places through the
historical identication of a place with a fam-
ily. For example, one might feel connected to a
church where their grandparents were married
and eventually buried (Figure 9-9). In some places
such as Spain and Japan, people’s names and com-
munity names are the same, or houses occupied
by generations have the same name as the family.
. Loss and destruction sometimes builds or
strengthens place attachment. ose who yearned
for Israel before it was established, mourn the
loss of redeveloped urban districts, or grieve
for towns lost in earthquakes develop erce
attachments to places that might exist, and
even to places that never again will exist.
. Ownership is a more familiar mechanism through
which place attachment can be created. When we
own a place for a long time, it becomes a part of
us, and we of it. In one culture, people and their
places are said to share blood. Ownership need
not be in the legal sense; it can be through sym-
bolic or psychological ownership, as when Detroit
residents joined together to plant trees in formerly
ugly vacant lots, which both improved the land-
scape and increased their place attachment.149
. Cosmological place attachment refers to a cul-
ture’s religious and mythological views on person-
place attachment. Many places are experienced by
their natives as the center of the universe. From
a cosmopolitan, objective perspective this may
seem absurd (how many places can be the cen-
ter?), but deep within the cultural meanings of
each such place, the center of the town or village
or shrine truly is the spiritual center of the world.
. People can be attached to places they merely visit;
when a place is sacred to them and they make a
pilgrimage there, they experience another kind of
place attachment. is sort of attachment usually
is religious (Mecca, Jerusalem, Banares, Amritsar),
but it can be secular. Serious baseball fans feel an
attachment to Cooperstown, New York, where
the Hall of Fame stores relics of their heroes; they
literally make pilgrimages to the small town.
. e term narrative refers to stories; place at-
tachment can develop through stories that ex-
plain the important issues and questions of life
in terms of people-place interactions. Stories
tell residents how to interact with or respect
their land and often include accounts of how the
land strikes back if it is not treated properly.
Culturally determined meanings can therefore inuence
which types of places are deemed worthy of attachment,
as well as how the attachment forms and is expressed. De-
spite these dierences, place attachment is prevalent in
 - Genealogical links to place
include churches and cemetaries.
284 | CHAPTER 9: e Psychology of Place Attachment
many cultures. An analysis of the relation between religion
and place attachment shows that connections to place are
found in many religious groups and historical periods.150
Descriptions of places of worship, sacred structures, burial
sites, places in nature, and mythical sites abound in ancient
and contemporary texts. Other scholars have detailed the
importance of place evident in medieval and contemporary
literary works.151 From such works, place attachment ap-
pears important across cultures and historical periods.
Scientic interest in place attachment has grown con-
siderably in the last 10 years. Perhaps this has occurred
in response to threats to place attachment, including in-
creased human mobility, placelessness, climate change, or
other global forces.152 Although it takes dierent forms in
dierent places, environmental psychologists tentatively
concluded that it is virtually a universal human experience.
  Several personal factors, including the
length of time spent in a place, the degree of
congruence between a place and one’s iden-
tity, one’s mobility and social status, place
ownership, gender and sexuality, develop-
mental goals, and personality attributes, have
been identified as relevant to place attach-
ment. Social ties can also contribute to, or
stem from, one’s place attachment. Place can
become meaningful through interactions with
others, and the resources, or social capital, we
derive from such interactions. Homogeneity
and diversity are two other social factors
important to place attachment. Some physical
and design features have been found to pre-
dict place attachment. Cultural factors also
influence which places one becomes attached
to, how this attachment develops, and how it
is expressed. Despite variations in it, place at-
tachment is common or even universal across
cultures, past and present.

  

     -
     . As Edward Relph
declared, “to be human is to live in a world that is lled with
signicant places: to be human is to have and to know your
place.153 erefore, environmental psychologists recog-
nize that person-environment interactions are sometimes
founded on deep emotional ties to places. Place attachment
can also help us understand and predict a variety of other
outcomes. It has implications for perceptions, behaviors,
and emotional outcomes.
Place Perception
      perceive it dier-
ently from those who are not attached. You may come to
know every path and corner and hidden staircase of a place
to which you are attached; the casual visitor does not. Be-
yond these detailed mental maps, places of attachment are
imbued with personal meanings and layers from the past.
Further, because an important place often merges with
aspects of one’s self-identity,154,155 place perception can be
unconsciously motivated by self-serving biases: the general
nding is that place attachment has a positive inuence on
place perceptions (Figure 9-10). In other words, being at-
tached to a place is like wearing rose-colored glasses, and
its aws and dangers become less apparent. For example,
Israelis living in the Gaza strip (i.e., prior to the 2005 dis-
engagement) who were more attached to the area perceived
Gaza as less dangerous.156
is perceptual bias appears common for many types of
places of attachment. Residents who identify with down-
town have more positive views of downtown (despite the
 - Studies predict that people who are more
attached to a place will perceive it to be less polluted.
CHAPTER 9: e Psychology of Place Attachment | 285
fact that downtown neighborhoods contain more mixed
land uses, trac and parking problems, noise, crowding,
stress, danger, and pavement), and those who identify
with suburbia have more positive views of suburbia.157,158
Residents who are more attached to their neighborhoods
perceive fewer problems on their block, such as suspected
drug dealings, grati, trac, and noise.159
Perceptions of natural environments can similarly be
distorted among the attached. Lakeside property own-
ers are more attached and more satised with certain at-
tributes of a lake, such as its scenery, water quality, and
number of users.160 Attachment to an area tends to result
in higher attractiveness ratings of landscapes in that area.161
Consistent with these ndings, individuals with a strong
sense of local and national identity perceived fewer pol-
lutants on local and national public beaches (respectively)
than those who identied less strongly with them.162
Social identity theory163 can help explain this tendency
of strongly attached and identied residents to inate the
positive qualities of their neighborhoods.164 Identity gains
denition through one’s social groups as well as the places
to which one belongs,165,166 and so the attributes of these
groups and places have implications for self-esteem. When
characteristics of one’s group or place are unfavorable, in-
dividuals will downplay, ignore, or positively reinterpret
them so that self-esteem can be maintained.
So, place attachment seems to alter environmental per-
ceptions, but environments can also inuence place attach-
ment. Pleasing physical and social features encourage place
attachment by attracting people to an area, and involving
them in it.167 Place attachment tends to vary for neigh-
borhoods of objectively dierent environmental quality.
Although, as noted earlier, people tend to view their neigh-
borhood positively, residents of lower-quality neighbor-
hoods identify less strongly with them than residents of
higher quality neighborhoods, even when the neighbor-
hoods are similar in size and in the sociodemographic
characteristics of residents. 168
In sum, place attachment can alter one’s judgments
of a place’s quality (perhaps as a way to bolster one’s
self-esteem), and attachments occur more frequently for
higher-quality places. Both processes probably operate
simultaneously.
Place Preservation and
Pro-environmental Behavior
        -
  
; it also has implications for behavior.
One of its key behavioral outcomes is stewardship; people
want to protect their place, provide the necessary upkeep
and maintenance, and preserve its special meanings. For
example, those who are more attached to their residence
are more likely to make repairs,169 mow the lawn,170 and re-
move nearby litter171 (Figure 9-11). In general, people will
act to defend their place from hypothetical and real threats,
such as increases in lake pollution from motorboats,172 a
proposed freeway,173 or other large-scale development proj-
ects.174
e stewardship behaviors that have attracted the most
interest are pro-environmental. People with stronger place
attachments tend to perform more pro-environmental be-
haviors, either as a direct attempt to preserve the place and
protect it from damage, or as an indirect result of inter-
nalizing the community’s values of environmental protec-
tion. As one example, youth who had worked on a natural
resource project who were more emotionally connected to
the place reported engaging in more environmentally re-
sponsible behaviors in their day-to-day lives.175 Sometimes
people with stronger place attachment perform fewer pro-
environmental behaviors,176 probably because their place
was already ne, and so they did not need to take action.
One way of resolving this discrepancy is to consider the
place dimension of place attachment.177 When individuals
are more attached to the community aspects of the place,
pro-environmental behavior is likely only if that com-
munity espouses pro-environmental values. For example,
students who attend a university that is renowned for its
 - Place attachment can lead us to maintain our place. .
286 | CHAPTER 9: e Psychology of Place Attachment
 - irteen functions of place attachment (Leila Scannell).
sustainability eorts would more likely adopt pro-environ-
mental attitudes and behaviors than students when attend
a university with few sustainability eorts. Some commu-
nities simply do not prioritize environmental issues, and
so pro-environmental behavior will not be inuenced by
a community-based attachment. Place attachment that is
based in the natural aspects of a place, however, is a stron-
ger predictor of pro-environmental behavior. Similarly,
people who have a strong environmental identity178 and
dene themselves as part of nature, are also more likely to
report engaging in pro-environmental behavior.
However, being attached to a place does not always lead
to pro-environmental actions. Some inict environmental
harm, such as using pesticides to produce a weed-free lawn,
burning wood to create a cozy living room atmosphere, or
traveling long distances to faraway places to which one is
attached.179-182 Furthermore, people generally want to pro-
tect the meaning of the place to which they are attached,
but meanings can vary among place users. For example, a
proposed hydropower plant development was opposed
by residents who were attached to specic parts of a mu-
nicipality, but it was supported by residents who were
attached to the municipality as a whole.183 Recreationists
who reported a strong sense of place identity with the
Appalachian Trail were more concerned about problems
such as crowding, litter, and noise. However, recreationists
who reported a strong sense of place dependence viewed
the trail as more important for supporting their recre-
ational activities.184
Place Loss
 ,   , divorce, conviction
of a crime, mental disability, natural or technological disas-
ter, forced re-location, or pure exhaustion in old age, many
of us lose our cherished places. Sometimes, the value of a
place is revealed most clearly to us when the settings we
hold most dear are threatened or lost. One poignant form
of community attachment occurs in dying towns that have
lost most of their population. In the U. S. Midwest, lit-
erally thousands of communities died in the 20th century,
and many are barely surviving today.185 Yet attachment to
such towns is often intense, perhaps because every factor
mentioned above that promotes place attachment is pres-
ent. at many older residents cling to their dying towns is
evidence that economic factors are not the most important
aspect of community attachment.186
Environmental psychologists are keenly interested in
how people experience and adjust to place loss. Marc Fried
and his colleagues were among the rst to recognize and
document the eects of displacement, in their classic in-
vestigation of a redevelopment project in the West End
of Boston.187 Although the physical quality of the neigh-
borhood was quite dilapidated, the residents (composed
mainly of white ethnic immigrants) expressed strong feel-
ings of attachment to their community. e structural im-
provements planned for the neighborhood meant that the
residents would lose their familiar structures and social
settings, and that most of the residents would be forced
to move. After the reconstruction, residents expressed
mourning and displayed symptoms of grief that Fried
argued are comparable to the eects of separation from a
loved one.
Place Loss Among Aboriginal Peoples. Place loss among
aboriginal peoples supports the idea that displacement can
have serious psychological consequences.188 Place meanings
often are more conscious and central among First Nations
people than among other North Americans. ey include,
for example, sacred meanings, connections to ancestors,
spirits, nature, food, medicines, customs, and ways of life.189
ese strong connections to place make place loss particu-
larly devastating. Aboriginal peoples worldwide have faced
Place
attachment
Entertainment
19% Aesthetics
7%
Practical
9%
Activities
33%
Privacy
7%
Freedom
19%
Relaxation
49%
Self-growth
22%
Positive
emotions
38%
Comfort
31%
Memories
69%
Belonging
54%
Connection
to nature
11%
CHAPTER 9: e Psychology of Place Attachment | 287
disproportionate dislocation, such as from colonialism,
and other actions of those in power. One example is the
place loss of the Cheslatta T’En people, whose traditional
lands were ooded to create a hydroelectric dam in British
Columbia.190 e dislocation of the residents was forcible
and sudden, and farms, communities, and cemeteries were
destroyed. Following this, the Cheslatta T’En faced many
social and spiritual losses; rates of alcoholism, suicide,
health problems, and unemployment increased as a direct
result of the loss of their place. Although their well-being
has improved in recent years, some scholars have pointed
out that few indigenous people fully recover from place
disruption.191
Place Loss from Migration. e eects of displacement
can also arise from voluntary or temporary migration. If
you have ever studied away from your childhood home or
traveled for an extended period of time, you may have ex-
perienced feelings of homesickness. ose who experience
place attachment most strongly may have the most person-
al diculty with changing or losing places.192 For example,
Chinese students living in Australia who were not well-
adjusted had more health problems and lower grades than
those who had become somewhat attached to the new en-
vironment.193 e psychological outcomes of moving away
from home to a new school or university can sometimes
include the loss of sense of belonging, continuity, and self-
identity.194
What can people do to avoid homesickness and dis-
placement? One eective process is interchangeability,
which involves seeking out similarities between new and
old environments.195 If a Canadian were living in Taiwan,
for example, she might occasionally seek out Western food
and other Canadians with whom she can relate. Seeking
out areas in the new environment that have home-like
qualities is another example of interchangeability. One
might feel attached to the beach because her hometown
was located near the ocean. Others might bring familiar
objects from their homes and be better adjusted. In a psy-
chological sense, a person is not truly displaced when sur-
rounded by referents of home. In general, making links to,
and symbolic representations of one’s attached place ap-
pears to minimize the eects of displacement.
Place attachment also aects how people prepare for
anticipated place loss, such as from natural disasters. In
India, residents who live in areas susceptible to ooding
have dierent degrees of ood preparedness depending
on their type of place attachment: those with genealogical
(e.g., family ties) and economic (e.g., investment or owner-
ship) place attachment are more prepared than were those
with religious place attachment. 196
Place Attachment and Well-Being
    
 -. is notion is supported by studies
that document the negative psychological consequences of
displacement as well as studies that demonstrate the posi-
tive eects of place attachment on well-being. By deni-
tion, place attachment is an emotional bond to a place.197-202
us, the experience of place attachment is often character-
ized by feelings of happiness and comfort.203 Even in war-
torn areas, place attachment is positively associated with
life satisfaction.204
e Benets of Place Attachment. What is it about place
attachment that benets us psychologically? A content
analysis of Canadians’ written descriptions of their places
of attachment that I (LS) conducted uncovered 13 ben-
ets: memories, belonging, relaxation, positive emotions,
activity support, comfort, self-growth, control, entertain-
ment, connection to nature, practical benets, privacy, and
aesthetics (see Figure 9-12).
e most common benet was memories, mentioned
by approximately two-thirds of the sample. Important
places can memorialize past events and people, provide a
sense of continuity over time205,206 and serve as a symbolic
time-machine into the past (Figure 9-13). e place can
also serve as the site of ongoing traditions, such as annual
 - We can be attached to places that connect us to the past.
288 | CHAPTER 9: e Psychology of Place Attachment
holiday gatherings or cultural events.207 us, place attach-
ment preserves important memories, and provides the
framework for forming new ones.
Belonging was the second-most commonly men-
tioned benet of place attachment. It includes feelings of
having roots in a place, tting in, or connecting with oth-
ers. Indeed, the need to belong appears to be one of the
fundamental psychological needs,208, 209 and ties to a place
can help us satisfy it. Places provide belonging when they
symbolize one’s social group, or oer a venue conducive to
meeting up with others.
Places of attachment also frequently oer relaxation.
For some, this is the immediate stress relief of coming
home after a long day of work, or it is leaving for a mean-
ingful vacation place that allows an escape from the every-
day routine. Children also seek out their favorite places for
relaxation or coping with negative emotions.210 As you will
read in a later chapter, certain places possess restorative
properties that include coherence, compatibility, being
away, and fascination; places of attachment are especially
likely to contain these four properties.211
Positive emotions, such as happiness, joy, and love, are
also part of place attachment, as is inherent in many de-
nitions and measures of the construct.
212-217 As one person
said, When I’m in [my hometown] I feel at ease, at peace,
and happy. e world seems OK again when I’m there.
Activity support was the fth most-common benet of
place attachment. Places can facilitate one’s desired activi-
ties and goals. As mentioned earlier, this particular mode
of attachment has been termed place dependence,218,219 in
which one becomes dependent on the unique features of a
place for enabling a preferred activity. For example, a surfer
may be attached to a particular beach or region with reli-
ably big surf (Figure 9-14).
Places of attachment can benet us by providing physi-
cal and psychological comfort. Architects, engineers and
interior designers calculate physical comfort as it relates
to temperature, noise, lighting, air quality, and design.220,221
People who are attached to larger spaces, such as cities or
regions often cite weather as a source of place-attachment
related comfort; some have greater attachment to places
with climates that resemble those of their childhood plac-
es.222 Comfort is also an important psychological benet,
particularly when a place provides a sense of safety and
security.
Places of attachment can also play a role in self-growth
processes, such as introspection, problem-solving, goal-
setting, and making personal changes. is could occur
either directly, when the place holds opportunities and re-
sources for self-change, such as new people, activities, or
environments, or it could occur indirectly, such as when
the environment is conducive to problem-solving and
contemplation.
A sense of control, autonomy, and freedom can also be
helped or hindered by place. People benet when places
of attachment can be altered to suit their needs, oer the
freedom to make their own choices, and allow for self-ex-
pression. e importance of control over various environ-
mental elements is one theme that recurs in this book, and
it certainly is also an important function of place attach-
ment functioning.
Some places of attachment are that because they pro-
vide us with entertainment. e level of stimulation in
these places is experienced as interesting, novel, exciting,
fun, or exhilarating. For example, attachment to a particu-
lar city, commercial venue, busy park, or vacation destina-
tion might provide this benet. As you may recall from
Chapter 2, slight deviations in environmental stimulation
(i.e., from the usual) can be enjoyable.223 erefore, en-
tertainment and relaxation are both benets of place at-
tachment where the level of environmental stimulation is
relevant.
Connecting to nature is a need that likely evolved from
our early ancestral environments224 and so many people
appreciate places of attachment that enable communion
with nature (Figure 9-15). is instinctive connection
has the ability to restore positive aect, improve cognitive
processes225 and reduce the symptoms of attention decit
disorder.226
Place attachment may also support well-being when
the place provides practical benets such as access to
 - Activity support is a common benefit of place
attachment.
CHAPTER 9: e Psychology of Place Attachment | 289
services and amenities. Life can be easier with proximity to
grocery stores, community centers, and medical facilities,
or access to particular types of resource centers (e.g., for
single-parents), or support groups (e.g., such as Alcoholics
Anonymous). Such features have been linked to neighbor-
hood satisfaction and overall quality of life.227,228
Privacy is another benet of place attachment. For
example, one person was attached to the Pilbara desert
in Australia because it allowed him a chance for solitude.
Attachment to an apartment is stronger when the apart-
ment facilitates privacy.229
Place attachments are sometimes formed and contin-
ued because of their aesthetic value. Beneting from the
aesthetic features of environments also has evolution-
ary roots; we prefer aesthetically pleasing environments
because those were the ones likely to contain resources
or other features conducive to survival.230 Among park
visitors, aesthetic features are even more important than
natural features,231 supporting the role of beauty in place
preferences.
In sum, place attachment contributes to well-being in at
least 13 psychologically relevant ways. ese benets even
seem to accrue from place attachment at a distance.
e “Shadow Side” of Place Attachment. Although place
attachment clearly is good for our well-being, person-place
bonds can be associated with ambivalent emotions and ex-
periences.232 For example, memories of home can be both
joyful and painful. e negative components of place at-
tachment, have been called its “shadow side.233 If you live in
social housing as a result of poverty, your attachment may
well involve negative aspects caused by the stigma attached
to living in social housing. 234 However, despite the stigma,
many residents report a strong sense of community and
general residential satisfaction.
Place attachment can also interfere with well-being
when one is attached to a place, but lacks control, such as
when powerful others impose discordant meanings and
policies on it, or in extreme cases, destroy it.235 Another
negative outcome of place attachment is “place bondage,”
when individuals continue to cling to places that inict
harm or fail to meet a variety of other needs.236 An extreme
example would be when residents refuse to leave their
homes in the event of a disaster, such as those who refuse
to evacuate despite warnings of an impending ood.237
Non-attachment. Some people say that they do not have
a place of attachment, challenging the assumption that
attachment is a good or necessary phenomenon. Indeed,
some Buddhist philosophers depict any type of attachment
as a negative force in which an individual grasps at or clings
to the bond.238 A state ofnon-attachment,” in contrast, is
said to oer a preferable state of exibility, a lack of xation
on attachment objects, and tolerance to the impermanence
of bonds. In this view, developing attachment bonds is not
optimal; rather, learning that such bonds are constructed,
mutable representations may be more adaptive.
  Being attached to a place has a number
of psychological outcomes. One is that those
who are more attached tend to perceive their
place in a more positive light than do those
who are less attached. Another implication is
that people who are more attached are more
likely to take action to protect their place from
changes they perceive to be threatening. e
negative eects of displacement support the
notion that individuals are motivated to main-
tain attachment to places, and that failure to
do so may result in negative psychological
outcomes. Aboriginal peoples have historical-
ly experienced much place loss, which harm
individuals and their entire community. Some
processes that appear to aid the transition
between old and new environments have been
identified. Place attachment usually benefits
well-being through at least 13 psychological
benefits such as memory support, belonging-
ness, relaxation, positive emotions, activity
support, physical and psychological comfort,
 - Connection to nature is a benefit of place attachment.
290 | CHAPTER 9: e Psychology of Place Attachment
as well as several others. e shadow side of
place attachment means that it can have cer-
tain negative impacts, too. Advocates of non-
attachment challenge the assumption that
attachment of any sort is good for us.
  

Developmental Theories of Place Attachment
  of place attachment postulate how the
bonds initially develop. In childhood, the development of
place attachment may intermingle with the processes of in-
terpersonal attachment that occur between children and
their primary caregivers, such as parents. One proposal
is that children begin to associate the close ties they hold
toward their parents with surrounding places.239,240 at
is, home comes to represent Mom and Dad (or another
primary caregiver), and so emotional bonds to parents gen-
eralize to the child’s residence. Over time, the scale of the
bond expands from the home to the neighborhood to the
broader community, all of which are assumed to provide
refuge and a sense of security.
According to a dierent perspective, when caregivers
provide a safe haven, this sense of security enables children
to venture out and explore nearby places.241 Emotional
ties to place therefore, are rooted in the mastery, freedom,
and adventure that children experience through such ex-
ploratory ventures. If threats appear, children may return
to the safe haven of their guardians once again. erefore,
place attachment in childhood may stem from secure in-
terpersonal attachments to caregivers. However, not all
children are aorded secure interpersonal relationships,
which raises questions about whether their relationships
with place dier, and which processes are involved in their
development of place attachment.
In adulthood, the bonds can develop in at least two
ways: place-congruent continuity, in which attachments
form to places that seem to represent or t with self-attri-
butes, and place-referent continuity, in which attachments
form to places where links to the past and memories have
accumulated.242
e developmental theories of place attachment have
begun to paint a picture of how attachment can arise in
childhood and adulthood. However, these ideas so far are
purely theoretical (without empirical validation), or ob-
tained by having adults think retrospectively about their
childhood attachments. Observations of infants and chil-
dren would add much to the understanding of how place
attachment forms and changes over time.
Place Attachment: Parallel with
Interpersonal Attachment?
    how place attachment, a rela-
tively new topic of study, operates psychologically is to
compare it with theories about topics that seem to bear
a strong resemblance. One obvious possibility is that af-
fective bonding to places may share some principles with
aective bonding to other people. John Bowlby and Mary
Salter Ainsworth pioneered the study of interpersonal at-
tachment in the middle 1960s. 243-245 According to Bowlby,
interpersonal attachment is an evolved behavior that in-
creases children’s chances of survival; those who can re-
main close to their caregivers are able to receive the care
they need and avoid predators and other threats. Speci-
cally, internal or external cues such as threats activate the
attachment system, which prompts a host of behaviors (e.g.,
crying, or seeking out the caregiver) that ultimately allow
the child to regain proximity to their caregiver. Once prox-
imity is attained, individuals experience a sense of security.
is secure base also enables exploration of the broader
environment. Over time, repeated interactions with one’s
caregiver generate mental models about what to expect in
relationship with others.
Many of the processes of interpersonal attachment
do appear relevant for place attachment.246,247 Proximity-
seeking is not limited to caregivers; people tend to seek
closeness to their important places, sometimes in person,
and sometimes cognitively. Making a trip to one’s home-
town during the holidays, daydreaming about a favorite
place, or purchasing a home in a certain city or region249
are all ways of attaining proximity to place. e desire to
remain connected to place is also reected in the naming
and building of new settlements.
Like interpersonal attachment, place attachment also
seems to oer a sense of security. For some, home is a “ha-
ven” where one can obtain refuge from threats
249-253 and
it is the secure base from which the broader world can be
CHAPTER 9: e Psychology of Place Attachment | 291
explored.254-256 Finally, as mentioned earlier, separation
distress can occur following unwanted place loss, just as
distress follows separation from a signicant other.257-259
Other principles of attachment theory may similarly
apply to place attachment. For example, a large propor-
tion of interpersonal attachment research has documented
the stable individual dierences in relating to other people,
called “attachment styles.260-264 eorists have considered
the existence of comparable styles of relating to place.265
For example, some people are chronically anxious about
losing their place. Others may chronically resist remaining
in any one place for long, wanting to move often, and avoid
growing roots that are too deep. Others may be “secure” in
that they receive comfort from their place of attachment,
but are able to leave it, striking a balance between security
and exploration. Despite the plausibility of these parallel
styles of place attachment, the idea lacks much evidence
so far.
Place Processes
   , who studies the rich-
ness of individual experiences and the nature of existence,
asserts that understanding the key processes of place is
an important rst step to understanding place attach-
ment. He describes six processes that generate (or erode)
place.266 Place interaction refers to the usual actions, rou-
tines, and activities that occur in a place. Many routines
come together to give the place meaning. For example, in
a cafeteria, cooks are preparing and serving meals, some
patrons are lining up and purchasing their food, and oth-
ers are eating. Places of attachment can support particular
routines and habits that contribute to the connection over
time. Place identity, already described, refers to the merg-
ing of self and the physical environment, and it can arise
from frequent place interaction; with time, and habitual
interaction, place can become part of who we are. Place
release is the experience of unexpected, serendipitous hap-
penings in a place. Witnessing a pod of whales in the ocean,
running into an old friend in a coee shop, or happening
upon a ash mob downtown are all examples of place re-
lease. ese pleasurable occurrences punctuate a place as
memorable and meaningful.
Place realization refers to the distinctiveness and char-
acter of a place. As Seamon says, this would be noticing
the “London-ness of London.” It is important to place at-
tachment, which tends to be stronger for places of distinct
character.267 A fth important place process is place cre-
ation, which can occur though design, building, person-
alization, hosting events, or other means. is process can
enhance the other processes, and contributes to feelings of
attachment. Finally, place intensication occurs when the
design of the place serves the needs of the human activities
that occur there. rough design, place interactions and
routines are reinforced and become stable over time. For
example, a comfortable atmosphere might enhance pa-
tronage of a local pub.
The Meaning-Mediated Model
 -   
aims to explain the role of physical features such as dwell-
ing type or the presence of nature in encouraging neigh-
borhood attachment to form.268 According to Richard
Stedman, we do not become directly attached to tangible
objects or sensory experiences oered by various environ-
ments, we bond to the meanings that we have projected
upon these places. What does that special park, house of
worship, street, theatre, or mountain mean to you? In this
model, the physical environment itself limits the possible
meanings an environment may acquire; it “sets bounds and
gives form to [social] constructions.269 e meanings one
may bestow on a park are unlikely to be the same as those
one bestows on a street or theater. Certain landscape ele-
ments appear particularly important to attachment, such
as water quality and level of development, because those
elements give rise to certain meanings that are conducive
to attachment (or not).
Stages of Place Attachment Disruption
     from somewhere that you
didn’t want to leave? If so, the bond to your place may have
been disrupted. Disruptions can occur when physical, le-
gal, or social changes interfere with the appearance, use or
meaning of the place.270
Two models explain the stages involved in such disrup-
tion. In the three-stage model, disruption occurs prior
to, during, and after the change.271 First comes a period
of pre-disruption, before the detachment occurs. For ex-
ample, this might result from securing a job in another
city and preparing to move there. Second, the disruption
itself occurs when the person must actually depart. In the
third stage, a period of post-disruption, attachments are
292 | CHAPTER 9: e Psychology of Place Attachment
reconciled, by maintaining a con-
nection to the old place, establish-
ing new attachments, or both.
A more elaborate ve-stage
model emphasizes the role of
meaning in place attachment dis-
ruption272 Stage 1 is becoming
aware of the proposals for place
change, and learning about the
types of changes that are slated to
occur. Stage 2 involves interpret-
ing the meaning of the change,
and considering how it will im-
pact oneself and one’s place. Stage
3 is evaluating the outcomes of
the change, determining whether
these will be predominantly nega-
tive or positive. Stage 4 is coping, when individuals con-
sider various coping strategies, such as denial or resistance
to the change. Stage 5 is the action phase, when individu-
als implement the strategy that was previously considered.
One key criticism of existing place attachment theories is
that they lack dynamism, and are more often descriptive
or structural, and less often process-oriented273; however,
theories of place disruption and development are two that
describe the unfolding processes of place attachment.
  much of the place attachment literature
is descriptive, but several interesting theo-
ries are now being developed. Developmental
theories postulate how place attachment can
co-occur with certain developmental mile-
stones. eories of interpersonal attachment
can be used to understand how we relate to
place, although this line of research is still
new. Phenomenological theories detail key
place processes that can aect place attach-
ment. e meaning-mediated model suggests
that individuals become attached to place
meanings, which are constrained by physical
characteristics of the place. eories of place
attachment disruption outline the stages that
occur when person-place bonds are broken.
 
 

Coffee Shop Design for Place Attachment
  ,     is an
important place of attachment; you may spend long hours
studying there, or you may frequent it on your way to work,
or perhaps it is where you convene with your friends on a
Tuesday night. Beyond their caeine supply, coee shops
are social gathering places, and so they have the potential
to contribute to a sense of community and local attach-
ment. ey can also dene the character of a neighbor-
hood. People do form aective bonds to coee shops.274 Of
particular interest to designers and coee shop managers
is which physical features, such as layout and décor, and
which social features, such as social support, may promote
aective bonding to their venues (Figure 9-16).
To investigate this, three distinct coee shops in the
same town were selected: a converted auto-repair shop, pa-
tronized mostly by university students; an artsy-historical
space next to a small lake, patronized by local residents,
and a large national chain coee shop with a bookstore
attached, patronized by students as well as community
members.275 Observations, interviews, and surveys were
used to explore the key social and physical indicators of
place attachment to the coee shops. Using these multiple
methods, ve physical features were identied:
. Cleanliness is one factor that participants re-
ported would support their repeated patron-
age, potentially leading to attachment over time.
Other than regular maintenance, an impression
of cleanliness can be achieved through particular
design features, such as nish materials on oors
and walls, and particular fabrics on furniture.
. Aroma. e smell of coee and baked goods
was important to participants. Few studies
have investigated the role of smell in developing
place attachment, but given the ability of cer-
tain smells to evoke aective memories, it is not
surprising that smell should be relevant to place
attachment. Designers could enhance or regu-
late this feature through ventilation systems.


helped found the first
graduate program in
environmental psychology
and produced valuable
studies of place identity.
CHAPTER 9: e Psychology of Place Attachment | 293
. Lighting. Coee shops that engender attachment
should provide adequate lighting. Because place
attachment often involves the congruence between
one’s activities and the features of the place, lighting
may be designed with typical coee shop activities
in mind, such as reading, socializing, or relaxing.
. Comfortable seating. Some patrons expressed
preferences for comfortable furniture, such as
couches rather than wooden chairs. Although
managers may wish to encourage the development
of place attachment, seating that is too comfort-
able also encourages lingering for a longer period
than is desired, inhibiting seating for others. us,
designers must consider the preferences of the users
alongside the business goals of the management.
. Views. Like other types of spaces (e.g., residences,
work places), coee shops are preferred when they
incorporate windows with views to the outside.
Of course, place attachment is not derived solely from
physical features, as the meaning mediated model asserts,
but it also strongly relates to social characteristics of the
environment. At least six social features appear relevant to
place attachment in coee shops.
. Opportunity to linger. As we know, place at-
tachment usually takes time to develop, and
so allowing people to linger may be one con-
tributing social factor. Coee shops that al-
low patrons to linger were also those with the
highest rates of observed social interaction.
. Control. Patrons emphasized the importance
of having control over some aspects of the cof-
fee shop, whether it was simply having a “usual”
chair, or having a say in how the coee shop
should be run. Management can encourage this
feature by asking patrons for feedback, and al-
lowing them to alter the space if possible (e.g.,
ensuring that tables and chairs are movable.)
. Trust and belonging. A public space such as
a coee shop is one in which feeling accepted
and welcome are crucial. is generates a sense
of belongingness in which feeling socially com-
fortable in a coee shop can translate into
feeling connected to the broader community.
Managers can promote this experience by creat-
ing policies against discrimination of patrons,
promoting diversity among employees, and of-
fering the venue to various community groups.
. Activity support. Recall that place dependence
emerges when we become attached to places that
support our ability to execute our desired activi-
ties. Coee shops can oer such venues, such as
for students who are studying, or community
members who are holding formal or informal
meetings. us, designers may investigate local
patrons’ desired activities and try to incorpo-
rate those activities into coee shop design.
. Social presence. Merely being around others
can reduce loneliness and encourage attachment
to the community, especially when those others
are familiar. Coee shops with regular custom-
ers appear to help meet this need. Remember
“familiar strangers” from an earlier chapter?
. Social support. Patrons expressed the im-
portance of the coee shop as a venue for social
support. Using the space to conde in and con-
nect with others serves the individual’s needs,
and builds social capital in the community.
 - Coee shops can be designed
with place attachment in mind.
294 | CHAPTER 9: e Psychology of Place Attachment
is list of physical and social features may serve as a start-
ing point for designers. However, because the relations
between these features and place attachment were not for-
mally studied, this model remains preliminary, and would
benet from empirical validation.
Place Attachment in Retirement Communities
  means that in some parts of the
world, such as Canada, the US, Western Europe, and Ja-
pan, the number of people living in retirement communi-
ties is increasing. Despite the benets of such communities,
elderly persons’ transition to living in a new place can be
extremely dicult, especially if they are leaving a long-time
residence, are recently widowed, or are experiencing physi-
cal and mental health challenges.
Two psychological factors important to adjustment and
overall quality of life in the new community are place at-
tachment and social support; the new place is benecial
when it oers a sense of belonging and comfort, as well as
sta members and other residents who can provide emo-
tional and tangible support beyond that supplied by the
new resident’s family.276 Researchers have begun to identify
which design features contribute to place attachment and
social support in retirement communities.
A new continuing care retirement facility in the United
States surveyed elderly residents who had lived there for
18 months.277 e researchers also collected a variety of
information about the physical environment. ree de-
sign features signicantly predicted place attachment: (1)
a short walking distance between one’s unit and the main
activity center; (2) a high probability of encountering oth-
er residents near one’s unit, dened as having neighbors on
both sides, and having intersecting pedestrian paths near
the front door; and (3) the presence of garden space.
e rst two of these factors seem to increase place
attachment through involvement in the residential com-
munity and increasing social interaction; both were also
correlated with perceived social support. Gardening space,
however, was not correlated with social support, so it may
exert its inuence on place attachment through other
mechanisms, such as psychological restoration, control, or
aesthetics. Of course, many other physical features, such as
décor, can also contribute to (or detract from) the degree
of attachment to retirement communities. How residen-
tial communities can manage to connect residents to their
past places is another question that research on place at-
tachment with elderly residents can help us to answer.
   , spaces can be designed with
place attachment in mind, by incorporating physical fea-
tures that are expected to directly increase place attach-
ment, and by designing spaces that facilitate social inter-
action. Coee shops and retirement communities are two
examples of places that can benet from place attach-
ment-relevant design. More research is needed to test the
causal impact of such design changes on place attachment
strength.

  ,
because every life and all of our lives happen in physical
settings. Some settings are particularly meaningful and
central to our identities. e phenomenon of place attach-
ment is multi-dimensional: they involve many place types,
modes of generating meaning, and psychological processes.
Certain places possess physical and social attributes that
make them more likely candidates for attachment. Once
that bond has formed, we often experience improved well-
being although, like other relationships, place bonds can
also have a shadow side. Research on place attachment has
greatly increased in recent years, but the methodological
approaches to studying it are still fairly limited; we will
know more about the causal mechanisms of place attach-
ment once we begin to study it using experimental designs.
GIFFORD: Environmental Psychology, Fifth Edition | 295
Suggested Supplementary Readings
Altman, I., & Low, S. M. (Eds.) (1992). Place attachment. New York: Plenum.
Clayton, S., & Opotow, S. (Eds.). Identity and the natural environment: e psy-
chological signicance of nature. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Devine-Wright, P., & Howes, Y. (2010).Disruption to place attachment and the
protection of restorative environments: A wind energy case study. Journal of
Environmental Psychology, 30, 271-280.
Fried, M. (1963). Grieving for a lost home. In L. J. Duhl (Ed.), e urban condi-
tion: People and policy in the metropolis (pp. 124-152). New York: Simon &
Schuster.
Giuliani, M. V. (2003). eory of attachment and place attachment. In M.
Bonnes, T. Lee, & M. Bonaiuto (Eds.), Psychological theories for environmental
issues (pp.137-170).Aldershot: Ashgate.
Lewicka, M. (2011). Place attachment: How far have we come in the last 40
years? Journal of Environmental Psychology, 31, 207-230.
Manzo, L. C., & Devine-Wright, P. (Eds.) (2014). Place attachment: Advances in
theory, methods, and applications. New York, NY: Routledge.
Mazumdar, S., & Mazumdar, S. (2004). Religion and place attachment: A study
of sacred places. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 24, 385-397.
Morgan, P. (2010). Towards a developmental theory of place attachment. Journal
of Environmental Psychology, 30, 11-22.
Proshansky, H. M., Fabian, A. K., & Kamino, R. (1983). Place-identity: Physi-
cal world socialization of the self. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 3,
57-83.
Scannell, L., & Giord, R. (2010a). Dening place attachment: A tripartite orga-
nizing framework. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 30, 1-10.
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... Similarly, people whose families have moved around a lot like to track their heritage to a specific town or state. Human nature requires socio-physical attachment; we need to feel connected with the people we live around and the spaces we live in (Scannell and Gifford 2014). If we are to plan for liveable cities, the health and well-being of the people living in these cities cannot be ignored. ...
... The emotional connection is directly related to place attachment and satisfaction. Toponyms affect what Scannell and Gifford (2014) refer to as the cognitive and emotional connections we make with the world around us, whether building place attachment or detachment. Behavioural interactions include activities and relationships built interpersonally and with the environment (Hashemnezhad, Heidari and Mohammad Hoseini 2013). ...
... While place attachment is often perceived as directly related to time, i.e., the longer you live in an area, the more you become attached to it. Scannell and Gifford (2014) consider the influence of congruence (compatibility/concord) in rapidly establishing a sense of place. People can feel an instant connection to the urban form, skyline, nature or toponyms of an area, making them feel at home on their first interaction with the space. ...
... In general, place attachment is linked to the well-being of people who experience this sense and causes physical health problems, lower grades, sadness, and longing when disrupting like in cases of forced displacement (Fullilove 1996;Scannell & Gifford 2017b). ...
... The bonding that increases attachment to places consists of place interactions, place identity, place release, place realization, place creation, and place intensification (Scannell & Gifford 2017b). These bonds can be built using aspects that act as predictors to increase place attachment, such as the physical (rootedness) aspect and social (bonding) aspect (Kamalipour et al. 2012). ...