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Impact of Frequency of Visits and Time Spent in Urban Green Space on Subjective Well-Being

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Exposure to green spaces can reduce the negative effects of stress. This study examines how frequency of visits and time spent in urban green spaces (UGS) affect urban dwellers’ subjective well-being. We also investigated the numbers of respondents visiting UGS, their primary motivation, and constraints on their ability to visit. Using quota sampling, an online survey was conducted of 400 residents of Daejeon City, South Korea. ANOVA results indicated no significant interactions between visit frequency and time spent in UGS. Respondents who had visited UGS within the past two weeks expressed higher positive and lower negative emotions than did non-visitors, regardless of visit frequency, and regular visitors showed higher general life satisfaction levels. These positive effects were confirmed by estimated structural equation models. However, the time spent in UGS did not affect emotions or life satisfaction in general. Heavy users mostly visited UGS to walk, and light/non-users cited the lack of urban green spaces near their home as the major constraint on visiting UGS. The estimated structural equation models clearly show positive effects from motivation and negative effects of constraints and access time to UGS on visit frequency. To improve urban dwellers’ subjective well-being, UGS should prioritize good walking environments and accessibility.
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sustainability
Article
Impact of Frequency of Visits and Time Spent in
Urban Green Space on Subjective Well-Being
Sung-Kwon Hong 1, Sang-Woo Lee 1,* , Hyun-Kil Jo 2and Miyeon Yoo 3
1
Department of Forestry and Landscape Architecture, Konkuk University, Gwangjin-gu, Seoul 05029, Korea
2Department of Ecological Landscape Architecture Design, Kangwon National University,
Chuncheon 24341, Korea
3Graduate Program, Department of Environmental Science, Konkuk University, Gwangjin-gu,
Seoul 05029, Korea
*Correspondence: swl7311@konkuk.ac.kr; Tel.: +82-2-450-4120
Received: 11 June 2019; Accepted: 1 August 2019; Published: 2 August 2019


Abstract:
Exposure to green spaces can reduce the negative eects of stress. This study examines
how frequency of visits and time spent in urban green spaces (UGS) aect urban dwellers’ subjective
well-being. We also investigated the numbers of respondents visiting UGS, their primary motivation,
and constraints on their ability to visit. Using quota sampling, an online survey was conducted of
400 residents of Daejeon City, South Korea. ANOVA results indicated no significant interactions
between visit frequency and time spent in UGS. Respondents who had visited UGS within the past
two weeks expressed higher positive and lower negative emotions than did non-visitors, regardless
of visit frequency, and regular visitors showed higher general life satisfaction levels. These positive
eects were confirmed by estimated structural equation models. However, the time spent in UGS
did not aect emotions or life satisfaction in general. Heavy users mostly visited UGS to walk,
and light/non-users cited the lack of urban green spaces near their home as the major constraint on
visiting UGS. The estimated structural equation models clearly show positive eects from motivation
and negative eects of constraints and access time to UGS on visit frequency. To improve urban
dwellers’ subjective well-being, UGS should prioritize good walking environments and accessibility.
Keywords: urban green space; positive aect; negative aect; life satisfaction; subjective well-being
1. Introduction
A growing body of evidence strongly indicates that living in vegetated areas in urban environments
has various positive eects for urban dwellers, such as improving physical health [
1
3
], decreasing
distress [
4
6
], increasing general life satisfaction and happiness [
6
8
], and reducing psychiatric
morbidity [
4
6
,
9
]. In addition, exposure to natural environments alleviates stress [
10
13
], improves
cognitive performance [
14
17
], enhances positive mood [
18
20
], and lowers stress-related illnesses [
21
].
Social science studies also reported that vegetation can reduce crime, enhance social safety
[22,23]
,
increase a sense of attachment [
24
], improve neighborhood satisfaction [
25
28
], and provide
opportunities for frequent social interactions [
23
,
29
33
], which, in turn, increase community cohesion
and improve the mental health of residents because loneliness and a perceived shortage of social
support can be mediated by frequent social contacts [23,32,34,35].
These various positive eects of green spaces on urban dwellers’ health and well-being are
associated with three mechanisms: attention restoration theory [
36
,
37
], stress reduction theory (or
psycho-evolutionary theory, PET) [
13
,
38
], and biophilia hypothesis [
39
,
40
]. The attention restoration
theory explains that urban environments are not restorative and require high levels of attention
to process the great amount of information (i.e., stress) derived from complex urban systems and
Sustainability 2019,11, 4189; doi:10.3390/su11154189 www.mdpi.com/journal/sustainability
Sustainability 2019,11, 4189 2 of 25
that, because of the evolutionary heritage of humans, green spaces can provide an opportunity to
rest the brain and replenish depleted resources (e.g., [
14
,
15
]). Stress reduction theory suggests that
exposure to green spaces is beneficial for restoration through helping stressed urban dwellers recover
a relaxed emotional state (e.g., [
41
44
]); it can significantly contribute to better health, promote mental
well-being, enhance social interactions among urban dwellers (e.g., [
23
,
30
33
,
45
,
46
]), and increase
physical activities [
47
,
48
]. The biophilia hypothesis indicates that humans have eortless emotional
and psychological preference for green spaces because humans have evolved in natural environments
for thousands of years [
36
,
49
,
50
]. Hartig [
51
] integrates the attention restoration theory and stress
reduction theory—suggesting an “intertwining of the mechanisms”—and finds that the attractiveness
and use of open spaces are dependent upon the perceived potential restrictiveness of open spaces [
52
].
At the same time, the underlying assumption of both the attention restoration theory and stress
reduction theory is eortless exposure to green spaces for resting and restoration eects, and all
humans can experience similar positive eects from green space regardless of geographic location.
In this regard, both attention restoration theory and stress reduction theory can be considered as a part
of the biophilia hypothesis. Although emphasis of each mechanism is slightly dierent, all mechanisms
share a common denominator: complex urban environments are not restorative and have adverse
psychological and physical eects on urban dwellers, and natural environments can recover depleted
states and even enhance positive states in urban dwellers’ minds and bodies. Thus, green spaces,
including grass, shrubs, trees, and water are critical for the psychological and physical well-being of
urban dwellers.
Among various indicators, well-being has been most widely used to measure the positive eects of
green spaces in urban environments. In general, individual well-being is defined as a multi-dimensional
concept that includes physical health, psychological and social functioning, and subjective well-being
(SWB) [
53
]. Particularly, SWB is an abstract measure of individual well-being [
53
] and a key concept to
quantify well-being in psychological studies [
54
,
55
]. In general, SWB refers to “how people experience
and evaluate their lives and specific domains and activities in their lives” [
56
] and has two aspects:
hedonic (emotional) aspect and eudaimonic (cognitive) aspect [
53
,
55
]. The hedonic approach defines
happy individuals as those who experience positive emotions more frequently than they do negative
emotions [
57
59
]. According to this perspective, frequent visits to urban green spaces (UGS) can
reduce the frequency of negative emotions and increase the opportunity for positive emotions, leading
to a feeling of happiness in daily life. Interestingly enough, happiness is related to greater success
in various life dimensions, such as marriage, work, community involvement, money, mental health,
physical health, and longevity [
58
]. From this viewpoint, the success–happiness connection is not one
directional, rather, it should be understood as a reciprocal relationship. It is widely acknowledged that
urban dwellers actively seek activities to sustain increased levels of well-being [
60
], and small frequent
pleasures (e.g., visiting UGS) in daily life have cumulative significant impacts on SWB [61].
There are three basic components of SWB, which are positive aect, negative aect, and life
satisfaction in general. Positive aect and negative aect represent the emotional aspects of SWB,
whereas life satisfaction in general represents the cognitive aspect of SWB [
55
,
57
]. Often, positive
aect has been shown to be associated with the experience of pleasant (i.e., positive) emotions and
negative aect with unpleasant (i.e., negative) emotions [
62
64
]. Clark and Watson [
62
] reported that
low positive aect and high negative aect are closely tied with depression and anxiety. Meanwhile,
life satisfaction in general refers to a subjective global self-assessment of an individual’s quality of life
according to his/her chosen criteria [
65
]. SWB is often identified as “happiness,” and it can considerably
contribute to one’s health and longevity [
53
,
66
]. In this context, one becomes happier in terms of
satisfying one’s own life (i.e., life satisfaction in general) and experiences more positive aect and
less (or an absence of) negative aect. These three components (i.e., positive aect, negative aect,
and life satisfaction in general) are closely correlated to each other, but they should be measured
separately to understand the comprehensive aspects of one’s SWB [
67
69
]. According to the bottom-up
theory of life satisfaction, life satisfaction is influenced by satisfaction with a number of core life
Sustainability 2019,11, 4189 3 of 25
domains, such as health, leisure, family, and social life, and each satisfaction can be influenced by lower
levels of life concerns within the domain [
70
]. Hence, positive experiences in UGS can improve life
satisfaction through satisfaction in the leisure domain [
71
73
]. Numerous prior studies have shown
that visiting UGS can increase satisfaction not only in the leisure domain but also in other domains,
such as mental health (e.g., [
4
6
,
9
,
72
]), physical health (e.g., [
1
3
,
74
]), social life (e.g., [
23
,
29
35
,
75
80
]),
and family [
58
,
81
,
82
]. Prior studies strongly suggest that UGS is critical infrastructure for sustaining
the well-being of urban residents and that expanding UGS and management are valuable investments
on individual, social, and national levels.
Previous studies have reported that the SWB of urban dwellers can be greatly enhanced by
exposure to natural environments, and the positive eects of natural environments on SWB can be
influenced by various personal and cultural factors, such as age, gender, socioeconomic status, race,
personal preference, personality traits, and past experiences [
16
,
83
88
]. Despite the rich evidence
supporting the positive eects of green space on urban dwellers’ SWB, these eects can be significantly
influenced by many personal, socio-cultural, and spatiotemporal factors, which makes the relationship
a complex entity. Thus, the true nature of the relationships between natural environments and SWB, as
well as the eects of various factors, is not fully understood.
From the perspective of urban dwellers’ well-being, demand for urban green space (UGS) has
been continuously increasing globally. The majority of the population in developed countries resides
in urban areas where access to natural environments is limited [
21
,
89
,
90
]. According to numerous
studies, urban dwellers have been experiencing more serious psychiatric disorders such as depression,
psychosis, and anxiety disorders than people living in rural or natural areas (e.g., [
91
94
]). SWB is a
critical modern public health issue with continuing urbanization worldwide [
55
,
90
,
92
] because SWB
is closely tied with psychological and physical health on individual, community, and societal levels.
Particularly, it is an urgent issue for highly urbanized regions and countries. For example, in Korea,
where approximately 90% of the population resides in urbanized areas, the Korean government and
local authorities have been continuously trying to provide more urban green spaces for years to meet
the increasing demand [9597].
Despite numerous previous studies that investigated the influences of various factors on the
relationship between UGS and SWB, our understanding of the complex nature of mediating eects is
not clear enough. According to the broaden-and-build theory [
98
], experiencing positive emotions can
expand one’s awareness and encourage exploratory behaviors. One’s behavioral skills increase, and life
can be enhanced through implementing these additional resources over time, resulting in enhanced
emotional well-being in a virtuous cycle. Similarly, hedonic contingent models argue that an individual
with an enhanced level of well-being more actively seeks out activities to sustain the enhanced level of
well-being, since hedonic rewards are more dependent on hedonic consequences in happy states rather
than sad states [
60
]. Both the broaden-and-build theory and hedonic contingent models emphasize that
the prior experience of positive emotion impacts people’s tendency to proactively seek out activities to
sustain enhanced well-being.
The main purpose of this study was to investigate the eects of visit frequency and time spent in
UGS on positive/negative aect and life satisfaction in general; these are fundamental components of
urban dwellers’ SWB, and estimations of these eects were inconsistent across previous studies. On the
basis of the broaden-and-build theory and hedonic contingent models, we hypothesized that frequent
visits and more time spent in UGS can enhance urban dwellers’ SWB (i.e., high levels of positive aect
and life satisfaction in general, and low level of negative aect). The second purpose of the study was
to identify the main motivations for and constraints on visiting UGS. In the constraint-eect-mitigation
model (CEM, [
99
]), motivations and constraints play critical roles in determining whether to participate
in leisure activities, including visiting UGS, and are therefore important factors for planners and
policy-makers in enhancing the subjective well-being of urban residents. Lastly, we estimated two
structural equation models (SEMs) for aect and life satisfaction by integrating sociodemographic
characteristics, the frequency of visiting UGS, motivation, constraints, and access time from home
Sustainability 2019,11, 4189 4 of 25
to UGS. By estimating SEMs, it was possible to identify the relative contributions of motivation,
constraints with holding other covariates.
2. Materials and Methods
2.1. Study Area
The study was conducted in 2017 in the city of Daejeon in South Korea. As a major city, Daejeon is
approximately 539,919 km
2
and has a population of 1.5 million. Daejeon is located in the center of the
country and therefore it is the hub of national transportation systems including railroads and highways.
The annual temperature and precipitation are 13.0
C and 1458 mm, respectively. Daejeon experiences
great seasonal variations in monthly average temperatures ranging from
1
C in January to 25.6
C
in August [
100
], which may aect people’s use of green spaces. About 55.4% (299.3 km
2
) of the city
is designated as green spaces, including urban natural forests, neighborhood parks, pocket parks,
and children’s parks, which is higher than any other major city in the country. Daejeon is surrounded
by a number of densely forested mountains and shares a boundary with the Dae-Chung dam (64.3 km
2
surface areas) at its northeast border. The land use/land cover (LULC) map of Daejeon shows the typical
spatial distribution pattern of large cities in South Korea: intensified developed areas in the center,
a mixture of natural and developed areas outside of the city center, and areas with more vegetation
along the city’s borders, with the exception of the northern part of the city (Figure 1).
Figure 1.
Spatial distributions of land use/land cover (LULC), including urban green spaces (UGS),
major mountains and rivers, and the dam surrounding the city. Most urban green spaces are located on
the outer rim of the city, and there are insucient urban green spaces near residents’ homes (areas
in red).
2.2. Sampling and Survey
An online survey of 400 Daejeon residents was conducted by a polling agency between 31 July
and 13 August 2017. We provided sampling quotas, basic definitions of subjective well-being and
urban green space, and scales of positive aect, negative aect, and life satisfaction. Prior to the main
Sustainability 2019,11, 4189 5 of 25
survey, the polling agency conducted a pilot test to ensure the quality of the questionnaire, using a
small number of randomly selected respondents. Using quota sampling by age (from 20 to 59 years
old) and gender, the assigned quota for each age group was 97 for 20–29 years, 97 for 30–39 years, 110
for 40–49 years, and 96 for 50–59 years. The quota for gender groups was the same for male (50%) and
female (50%) respondents (Table 1).
Table 1. Sampling quota by age and gender groups.
Quota Groups Number of Respondents (%) Total
Age
20–29 97 (24.3)
400
30–39 97 (24.3)
40–49 110 (27.5)
50–59 96 (24.0)
Gender Male 200 (50.0) 400
Female 200 (50.0)
2.3. UGS
According to the Forest Resources Establishment and Management Act in Korea, UGS refers
to “planted and managed forests or trees in urbanized areas for enhancing urban dwellers’ health,
recreation opportunity, resting, and emotional integrity.” On the basis of this definition, UGS may
include almost all vegetated spaces in urban areas, such as urban parks, street trees, green walls,
and amusement parks, which is too broad for urban dwellers. For these reasons, the Korean Forest
Service restricted the definition of UGS to “easily accessible UGS in daily life with minimal time and
financial costs” [
96
]. We adopted this definition of UGS for this study because it places more emphasis
on UGS in living areas (neighborhoods) and excludes high mountainous forests or large recreational
forests that are located far from respondents’ homes.
2.4. Measuring Positive Aect, Negative Aect, and Life Satisfaction in General
To understand SWB, we measured positive aect, negative aect, and life satisfaction in general.
The Scale of Positive and Negative Experience (SPANE) [
101
] was used to measure respondents’
positive aect (SPANE-P) and negative aect (SPANE-N). SPANE was developed by Diener et al. [
101
]
to assess a broad range of emotions by asking respondents to recall activities and experiences in UGS
over the past four weeks through 12 questions (six questions for positive aect and six questions for
negative aect), with answer options on a five-point Likert scale. Of the six questions for positive
aect and negative aect, three items address emotional experiences in general (e.g., positive aect or
negative aect), and the other three items ask about specific emotional experiences, such as “joyful”
and “sad,” during the past four weeks. The reliability and validity of SPANE has been examined in a
number of studies (e.g., [
71
,
101
103
]), and various time frames (e.g., yesterday, past week, past two
weeks, or in general) have been used to measure positive aect and negative aect in association with
SWB (e.g., [
54
,
71
,
102
,
103
]). Thus, the time frame is not fixed when using SPANE, and we chose the past
two weeks as the time frame for the survey to minimize the possible adverse eects due to respondents’
memory. This time frame has previously been used eectively in a similar study in Korea (e.g., [71]).
Life satisfaction in general was assessed with the Satisfaction with Life Scale (SWLS), which contains
five items with answer responses on a seven-point Likert scale [
104
]. Since every person assesses
his/her own life in dierent ways, a definition that reflects an individual’s perspectives is required.
SWLS has shown to be an eective measure of an individual’s life satisfaction in general by allowing
the integration of an individual’s perspectives on life satisfaction. A number of previous studies have
demonstrated the reliability and validity of this scale, and it has been widely implemented with a
broad range of age groups and areas of study (e.g., [69,71,105109]).
In the literature, SWB has been shown to be more strongly associated with the frequency and
duration of an individuals’ positive feelings, not with the intensity of those feelings [
101
]. Thus, it was
Sustainability 2019,11, 4189 6 of 25
rationalized that one’s aective well-being is determined by the frequency of experiencing positive
aect and negative aect, not by the intensity of those experiences. In light of this, we surveyed
the frequency of visits and time spent in UGS in relation to positive aect, negative aect, and life
satisfaction in general.
2.5. Conceptualized Eects of Motivations and Constraints
According to the constraint-eect-mitigation model (CEM) proposed in leisure and recreation,
“motivation” and “constraint” are determinants for one’s participation in certain activities (e.g., visiting
an urban forest). In the CEM model, motivation and constraint directly impact participation, as well as
indirectly impact participation through the “negotiation” process based on one’s previously structured
value system [
99
] (Figure 2). The outcome (i.e., visiting or not visiting UGS) of the negotiation process
is largely determined by the relative strength of, and interactions between, motivation and constraint
factors [
110
]. The constraint factors negatively aect visiting UGS. However, the constraint factors can
be overcome through negotiation if the motivation factors to visit UGS are strong enough. In our study,
motivation was defined as the desire to enhance positive aect, to lower negative aect, and to increase
life satisfaction by visiting UGS (e.g., [
111
]). At the same time, constraints were factors that inhibit
visiting UGS or limit satisfaction (e.g., [
112
]), and negotiation was conceptualized as a variety of tactics
and resources that attenuate the negative influences of constraints on visiting UGS (e.g., [113]).
Figure 2.
A conceptual diagram of the constraint-eect-mitigation (CEM) model (modified from [
99
]).
2.6. Estimating Structural Equation Models
We integrated sociodemographic characteristics (e.g., gender, age, presence of children, marital
status, education levels, and monthly income levels) and access time to UGS to quantify the relative
contributions of motivations and constraints on visit frequency and amount of time spent in UGS. It was
hypothesized that sociodemographic variables, access time to UGS, motivation, and constraint aected
visit frequency and the amount of time spent in UGS, and that positive aect, negative aect, and life
satisfaction were aected by visit frequency and time spent in UGS. The fact that we estimated SEM as
a confirmative tool to verify the study results is significant. Two separate models for aect and life
satisfaction were estimated using AMOS for SPSS (IBM Statistics Version 25) with the same explanatory
variables (i.e., sociodemographic variables, access time to UGS, motivation, and constraints). We used
the UGS visit frequency within the previous two weeks for the aect model and the usual use of UGS
for the life satisfaction model.
3. Results
3.1. Validity and Reliability Test of Measurements
A principal component factor analysis with a varimax rotation was conducted to examine the
validity of surveyed SPANE and SWLS. Two factors (i.e., positive aect and negative aect) from SPANE
Sustainability 2019,11, 4189 7 of 25
and a single factor (i.e., life satisfaction in general) from SWLS were extracted from the factor analysis.
All of Cronbach’s
α
values of loaded variables of positive aect, negative aect, and life satisfaction in
general were greater than 0.7, indicating an acceptable level of reliability [
114
]. Percentage of variance
explained by each factor for positive aect, negative aect, and life satisfaction in general was 32.29%,
31.17%, and 73.89%, respectively (Table 2).
Table 2.
Results of factor analysis with a varimax rotation and reliability test of measurement scale.
Two factors (i.e., positive aect and negative aect) were extracted from the Scale of Positive and
Negative Experience (SPANE), and one factor (i.e., life satisfaction in general) was extracted from the
Satisfaction with Life Scale (SWLS). All of Cronbach’s
α
values of loaded variables were significantly
higher than 0.7.
Category Variables Factor 1 Factor 2 Cronbach’s α
Positive aect
Good 0.7778 0.1824
Pleasant 0.8125 0.1813
Happy 0.8057 0.1517
Joyful 0.8103 0.1828 0.9176
Contended 0.7302 0.1390
Positive 0.7527 0.2383
Negative aect
Bad 0.1614 0.8315
Unpleasant 0.1178 0.7823
Sad 0.1625 0.7007
Afraid 0.2119 0.7452 0.9099
Angry 0.1504 0.7520
Negative 0.2666 0.7914
Life satisfaction in
general
In most ways, my life is close to my ideal. 0.8777
The conditions of my life are excellent. 0.8475
I am satisfied with my life. 0.8567 0.9374
So far, I have gotten the important things I want in life. 0.8751
If I could live my life over, I would change almost nothing.
0.8403
3.2. Measuring Frequency of Visits and Time Spent in UGS
All variables were collected for the past two weeks and usual use. In cases of the past two
weeks, the most common frequency reported was visiting 1–2 times per week (95 respondents, 23.8%).
The percentage of respondents who did not visit an UGS in the past two weeks was considerably
higher (47.5%) than cases of usual use (9.8%) because a week of surveying time overlapped with the
rainy season. However, respondents visited UGS more frequently after the rainy season ended. For a
particular timeframe, the percentage of weekly visitors (more than once per week) within the past two
weeks was greater than the percentage for usual use. Approximately 47.1% of respondents spent 1–2 h
in UGS, and the second most common frequency reported was less than 1 h (28.6%).
In usual use cases, 123 respondents reported that they visited UGS 1–3 times per month, which was
the most common group (30.8%), and the second most common group reported visits at least once
per year (110 respondents, 27.5%). The combination of these two groups consisted of more than 50%
of the respondents, suggesting that UGS is an important leisure destination for Daejeon residents.
Regarding time spent in the UGS, approximately 45% of respondents reported that they spent 1–2 h
per visit. Only 24 respondents (6.7%) spent more than 3 h in UGS, suggesting that most residents in
the study area spent less than 3 h in UGS (Table 3).
Sustainability 2019,11, 4189 8 of 25
Table 3.
Frequency of visits and amount of time spent in the UGS within the past two weeks and
usual use.
Variables
Past Two Weeks Usual Use
Group Percent of
Respondent (%) Group Percent of
Respondent (%)
Number of visits
Almost everyday 1.5 Almost everyday 2.3
5–6 times/week 0.3 4–6 times/week 2.3
3–4 times/week 7.2 1–3 times/week 23.0
1–2 times/week 23.8 1–3 times/month 30.8
1 time/2 weeks 19.8 1–3 times/year 27.5
No visit 47.5 1 time/years 4.5
No visit 9.8
Total 100.0% Total 100.0
Amount of time
spent *
Less than 1 h 28.6 Less than 1 h 25.2
1–2 h 47.1 1–2 h 44.9
2–3 h 18.6 2–3 h 23.3
3–4 h 4.3 3–4 h 5.5
4–5 h 1.0 4–5 h 0.6%
More than 5 h 0.5 More than 5 h 0.6
Total * 100.0% Total * 100.0
* 190 and 39 non-visitors were excluded from the data under the past two weeks and usual use, respectively.
3.3. Segmentation by Frequency and Time Spent
To test SWB caused by frequency of visits and time spent in UGS, respondents were classified
into three groups for both positive aect/negative aect and life satisfaction in general. Since there are
no known objective criteria in the literature, classification was decided on the basis of respondents’
distributions. Due to the high temporal and short-term stability of emotional experience (i.e., positive
aect and negative aect), we classified respondents who visited UGS more than once per week within
the past two weeks as the “heavy user group” (Hgroup, 131 respondents). The “moderate user group”
(Mgroup, 79 respondents) consisted of respondents who visited UGS once within the past two weeks,
and respondents who did not visit UGS in the past two weeks were classified as the “non-user group”
(Ngroup, 190 respondents). Similarly, respondents were also classified into the “long-stay group”
(more than 2 h per visit, 51 respondents), “medium-stay group” (1–2 h per visit, 99 respondents),
and “short-stay group” (less than 1 h per visit, 60 respondents) based on the average time they spent in
UGS per visit. The Ngroup (190 respondents) was excluded from the classification based on time spent
because it is not possible to examine the eects of time spent in UGS on positive aect, negative aect,
and life satisfaction in general for non-visitors (Table 4).
As for usual use of UGS, we classified respondents into three groups: “heavy user group” (Hgroup,
more than once per week), “moderate user group” (Mgroup, 1–3 times per month), and “light/non-user
group” (LNgroup, 1–3 times per year or no visits). The number of respondents classified as Hgroup,
Mgroup, and LNgroup was 110 (27.5%), 123 (30.8%), and 167 (41.8%), respectively. Respondents were
also classified into three groups based on average time spent in UGS. The groups were “long stay group”
(more than 2 h per visit, 108 respondents), “medium-stay group” (1–3 h per visit), and “short-stay
group” (less than 1 h, 91 respondents). However, 39 respondents who reported no visits were excluded
from this classification (Table 4).
Sustainability 2019,11, 4189 9 of 25
Table 4. Segmented respondent groups by frequency of visit and amount of time spent in UGS.
Variables
Positive Aect/Negative Aect 1Life Satisfaction 2
Group Classification
Criteria
Percent of
Respondents
(%)
Group Classification
Criteria
Percent of
Respondents
(%)
Number of
visits
Heavy user
group
1 or more
times/week 32.8 Heavy user
group
1 or more
times/week 27.5
Moderate user
group
1 time/2 weeks
19.8 Moderate user
group
1–3
times/month 30.8
Non-user group No visit 47.5 Light &
Non-user group
1–3
times/year,
and no visit
41.8
Total 100 Total 100
Amount of
time spent
Long stay group more than 2
h/visit 24.3 Long stay group 2 h or
more/visit 29.9
Medium stay
group 1–2 h/visit 47.1 Medium stay
group 1–2 h/visit 44.9
Short stay group
less than 1
h/visit 28.6
Short stay group
less than 1
h/visit 25.2
Total 3100 Total 3100
1
Past two weeks,
2
usual use,
3
190 and 39 non-visitors were excluded from aective components and life
satisfaction, respectively.
3.4. Eects of the Frequency of Visits and Time Spent in UGS on SWB
Prior to examining the eects of visiting UGS, we tested for the possible existence of interaction
eects between the frequency of visits and time spent in UGS. An analysis of variance (ANOVA) was
conducted for positive aect and negative aect experienced in the past two weeks with interaction
eects. The results indicated that there were no interaction eects between frequency of visits and
time spent in UGS on positive aect and negative aect. Also, no interaction eects were observed
between frequency of visits and time spent on life satisfaction in general. Specifically, the F-statistic
of interaction eects for positive aect, negative aect, and life satisfaction in general was 1.3, 0.37,
and 0.37, respectively, and none of them were significant (>0.05), indicating the absence of interaction
eects between frequency of visits and time spent in UGS (Table 5).
Table 5.
The results of ANOVA for testing the possible presence of interaction eects between the
frequency of visits and time spent in UGS.
Category Variable df SS MS F-Value p-Value
Positive aect
Frequency of visits
1 0.1935 0.1935 0.51 0.4766
Time spent 2 2.1949 1.0974 2.88 0.0582
Interaction 2 0.9883 0.4941 1.30 0.2751
Negative aect
Frequency of visits
1 0.7908 0.7908 1.64 0.2019
Time spent 2 0.2570 0.1285 0.27 0.7665
Interaction 2 0.3531 0.1766 0.37 0.6940
Life satisfaction
Frequency of visits
2 10.1123 5.0561 2.92 0.0554
Time spent 2 0.5146 0.2573 0.15 0.8621
Interaction 4 2.5348 0.6337 0.37 0.8331
df =degrees of freedom, SS =sum of squares and MS =mean squares.
Additional ANOVAs were conducted for positive aect, negative aect, and life satisfaction in
general without interaction eects of two independent variables in order to detect whether there were
dierences in group means. The F-statistic of frequency of visits for positive aect, negative aect,
and life satisfaction in general was 15.11, 11.68, and 4.7, respectively, and their p-values were less than
Sustainability 2019,11, 4189 10 of 25
0.01 (Table 6). The results of the F-test indicated that there were significant group mean dierences for
positive aect and negative aect based on the frequency of visits to UGS within the past two weeks.
However, there were no significant dierences in the distributions of positive aect and negative aect
based on the amount of time spent in UGS. Similarly, the distribution of life satisfaction in general was
significantly dierent based on the frequency of visits to UGS for usual users; however, there was no
significant dierence for life satisfaction in general based on the amount of time spent in UGS. In sum,
it was evident that variances of positive aect, negative aect, and life satisfaction in general of the
respondents were significantly related to the frequency of visits to UGS.
Table 6.
The analyses of variance for positive aect, negative aect, and life satisfaction in general due
to the frequency of visits and amount of time spent in UGS.
Category Variable d.f. SS MS F-Value p-Value
Positive aect
Frequency of visits
2 12.0051 6.0025 15.11 <0.0001
Time spent 2 2.1949 1.0974 2.88 0.0582
Negative aect
Frequency of visits
2 12.0751 6.0375 11.68 <0.0001
Time spent 2 0.2570 0.1285 0.27 0.7659
Life satisfaction
Frequency of visits
2 16.0261 8.0130 4.70 0.0096
Time spent 2 0.5146 0.2573 0.15 0.8626
Multiple comparison tests (i.e., Duncan test) were used to determine whether there were dierences
in the means of positive aect and negative aect among groups classified by the frequency of visits
within the past two weeks (Figure 3). The results indicated that there was a significant dierence
in the means of positive aect between the user groups (i.e., Hgroup and Mgroup) and non-user
group (Ngroup). Specifically, the mean positive aect of both the Hgroup (m =3.3741) and the
Mgroup (
m=3.4367
) was significantly higher than the mean positive aect of the Ngroup (m =3.0535).
However, we did not observe a significant dierence in mean positive aect between the two user
groups (i.e., Hgroup and Mgroup). Thus, respondents who visited UGS within the past two weeks had
higher levels of positive aect. In contrast, the mean negative aect of both the Hgroup (m =2.4809)
and the Mgroup (m =2.6047) was significantly lower than the mean negative aect of the Ngroup
(m =2.8649). Thus, the results of the Duncan test showed that respondents who visited UGS at least
once within the past two weeks experienced considerably lower negative aect than those who did
not. However, there was no significant dierence in the means of negative aect between the two user
groups (i.e., Hgroup and Mgroup), despite that the Hgroup had a slightly lower mean of negative
aect than the Mgroup.
In sum, the user groups in the short-term (i.e., past two weeks) had a significantly higher mean
positive aect and lower mean negative aect than the non-user group, regardless of the frequency of
visits. Our results emphasize the importance of regular visits to UGS for sustaining positive aect
and retaining low levels of negative emotions. Respondents in the Hgroup and Mgroup were likely
to experience positive emotions more frequently by visiting UGS than respondents in the Ngroup,
and negative emotions of respondents in the Hgroup and Mgroup can be mediated by more frequently
experiencing positive emotions. Our study results indicated that this mediation eect is unlikely to
occur for respondents in the Ngroup. Another important aspect of the results is the recreational needs
of urban dwellers; the recreational demands of respondents in the Hgroup and Mgroup could be
additionally satisfied by visiting UGS. However, respondents in the non-user group did not have an
opportunity to fulfill their recreational demands in UGS, resulting in a low level of positive aect and
high level of negative aect.
Regarding life satisfaction in general, respondents were classified into three groups: heavy user
group (Hgroup, visit 1 or more times per week), moderate user group (Mgroup, visit 1–3 times
per month), and light/non-user group (LNgroup, visit 1–3 times per year or no visits) (see Table 4).
A Duncan test was also conducted to detect the means of life satisfaction in general for those three
Sustainability 2019,11, 4189 11 of 25
groups. User groups (i.e., Hgroup and Mgroup) had a significantly higher mean life satisfaction in
general than the LNgroup (m =3.4335). The Hgroup (m =3.8927) had a slightly higher mean life
satisfaction in general than the Mgroup (m =3.7707), but the dierence was not significant (Figure 3).
Figure 3.
Duncan test for comparing the mean of positive aect, negative aect, and life satisfaction
among groups classified by the frequency of visits to UGS within the past two weeks (positive/negative
aect) and usual use (life satisfaction).
3.5. Motivation and Constraint
In our study, we assessed various motivations for visiting UGS using multiple response options in
the survey, such as “to take a walk,” “to rest,” “to exercise and hike,” “to be away from home,” “to spend
time with family members,” and “to enjoy nature” (Figure 4). We found that user groups (i.e., Hgroup
and Mgroup) were more motivated by “to exercise and hike” than the LNgroup. Considering that
health has been recognized as one of the most important life domains [
115
,
116
] and that the study area
is a densely urbanized environment with a lack of space for exercising, the higher SWB of user groups
than the LNgroup can be explained by the satisfaction of the health motivation of visitors to UGS.
Compared to user groups, respondents in the LNgroup reported higher motivations “to rest,” “to be
away from home,” and “to spend time with family members.” The Hgroup’s major motivations for
visiting UGS were “to take a walk” and “to exercise and hike,” while the Mgroup’s primary motivations
were “to take a walk” and “to rest.”
Figure 4.
Frequency (%) of motivations for visiting UGS among heavy, moderate, and light/
non-user groups.
Sustainability 2019,11, 4189 12 of 25
The frequency analysis of constraints indicated that all groups were greatly influenced by
constraints (Figure 5). Heavy and moderate users sought to enhance SWB using negotiation strategies
despite being influenced by constraints as much as non-users. The major constraints for the Hgroup
were “poor facilities in UGS” and “no UGS near home,” whereas the Mgroup cited “no time to visit,”
“limited parking,” and “poor public transportation service” as the primary constraints. Notably,
the LNgroup reported “no UGS near home” as the primary constraint. Respondents in the Hgroup
cited “limited information on available UGS” the least as a constraint, implying that heavy users
actively seek out information on available UGS even if the information is dicult to find. Meanwhile,
light and non-users reported “limited information on available UGS” as a fairly significant constraint.
Figure 5.
Frequency (%) of motivations for visiting UGS among heavy, moderate, and light/non-
user groups.
3.6. Structural Equation Models for Positive/Negative Aect and Life Satisfaction
The study results above indicate that the UGS visit frequency had a significant impact on
positive/negative aect and life satisfaction. Thus, we included only the UGS visit frequency in
the estimated SEMs for positive/negative aect and life satisfaction. The estimated model for
positive/negative aect revealed that the number of motivations positively aected the frequency of
visiting urban green space within the previous two weeks while the number of constraints negatively
aected it. The UGS visit frequency was likely to be high if respondents had a greater number of
motivations and fewer constraints (Figure 6). Thus, visit frequency was partially determined by the
number of motivations and constraints. Visit frequency within the previous two weeks was also
aected by age and the access time from home to UGS. In addition, older respondents were likely to
have visited UGS more frequently within the previous two weeks than younger respondents. However,
other sociodemographic characteristics, gender, marital status, education level, monthly income level,
and the presence of children (elementary school) did not show a significant eect on UGS visit frequency.
The access time from home to urban green space negatively aected visit frequency, suggesting that
the visit frequency was likely to be low if there was no available UGS near home. The comparison
of the standardized coecients of paths indicated that the number of motivations (0.19) was a more
critical factor in determining the visit frequency than other variables, such as the number of constraints
(
0.11), age (0.13), and access time (
0.14). Clearly, the UGS visit frequency within the previous two
weeks increased positive aect (0.26) and lowered negative aect (
0.21), confirming the ANOVA
results (Table 5).
Sustainability 2019,11, 4189 13 of 25
Figure 6.
A structural equation model (SEM) for positive/negative aect with sociodemographic
variables, access time to urban green space, visit frequency, number of motivations, and number of
constraints. Numbers along the paths indicate significant standardized eects of variables (p<0.05).
A SEM for life satisfaction in general was also estimated with the same variable (Figure 7).
For estimating the model, we used the UGS visit frequency by usual use. This frequency was positively
aected by the number of motivations (0.09) and negatively aected by the number of constraints
(
0.1). Thus, the frequency of visiting urban green space was in part dependent on how many
motivations or constraints each individual had. At the same time, visit frequency was negatively
aected by access time from home to UGS and positively aected by age and education level. Thus,
the UGS visit frequency by usual use was likely to be high if one had a greater number of motivations,
a lower number of constraints, was older, had a higher education level, and if access time to UGS was
short. However, visit frequency was not aected by other sociodemographic characteristics, such as
gender, income level, presence of children, and marital status. Access time from home to urban green
spaces showed a stronger eect on the visit frequency (
0.2) than the number of motivations (0.09),
the number of constraints (
0.1), education level (0.16), or age (0.09) in the estimated life satisfaction
model. As reported earlier (Table 5), the frequency of visiting urban green space revealed a positive
eect on life satisfaction in general.
In sum, both SEMs for positive/negative aect and life satisfaction revealed that the UGS
visit frequency had positive eects on positive/negative aect and life satisfaction. At the same
time, the positive eect of age and negative eect of access time were consistent in both SEMs.
Other sociodemographic characteristics did not show a significant eect on the frequency within the
previous two weeks and usual use. Thus, it was clear that older urban dwellers were likely to visit
UGS more frequently than younger people. In addition, access time from home to UGS appeared as a
critical factor for the UGS visit frequency. Longer access time to UGS decreased the visit frequency,
which in turn decreased positive aect and life satisfaction in general and increased negative aect.
Also, both SEMs reinforced the importance of motivations and constraints in using urban green spaces.
The number of motivations consistently increased the visit frequency, resulting in increased positive
aect and life satisfaction and decreased negative aect.
Sustainability 2019,11, 4189 14 of 25
Figure 7.
A structural equation model for life satisfaction in general with sociodemographic variables,
access time to urban green space, frequency of visit, number of motivations, and number of constraints.
Numbers along the paths indicate significant standardized eects of variables (p<0.05).
The goodness-of-fit index of two estimated models was compared with recommended multicriteria
including probability of X
2
, goodness-of-fit index (GFI), adjusted goodness-of-fit index (AGFI),
comparative fit index (CFI), root mean square error of approximation (RMSEA), normed fit index (NFI),
and parsimony normed fit index (PNFI) [
117
]. All indicators of the estimated two models were in the
acceptable range, indicating that the models fitted with the observed relationships of positive/negative
aect and life satisfaction with sociodemographic variables, accessibility, frequency of visit, motivation,
and constraints (Table 7).
Table 7.
Summary of the estimated model fit. All recommended goodness-of-fit indexes of the estimated
aect and life satisfaction models were in the acceptable range.
Goodness-of-Fit Index Criteria Aect Model LSG* Model
Probability of X2p<0.05 <0.00 <0.00
Goodness-of-fit index (GFI) >0.90 0.93 0.94
Adjusted goodness-of-fit index (AGFI) >0.80 0.91 0.91
Comparative fit index (CFI) >0.90 0.95 0.94
Root mean square error of approximation (RMSEA)
<0.08 0.05 0.07
Normed fit index (NFI) >0.90 0.92 0.92
Parsimony normed fit index (PNFI) >0.60 0.79 0.74
* LSG =life satisfaction in general.
4. Discussion
4.1. Eects of Frequency of Visits and Time Spent in UGS on SWB
Studies have shown that various variables modify the relationship between natural environments
and SWB, such as the quality of green space [
118
,
119
], biodiversity/variation in vegetation
types
[120122]
, untended or poorly managed green space conditions [
32
,
123
,
124
], types of activities
available [
7
], the degree of crowding [
122
], the degree of naturalness [
124
,
125
], proximity to green
space [126], accessibility [125], and perceived sense of safety [127].
Sustainability 2019,11, 4189 15 of 25
Our results of ANOVA and SEMs demonstrated that visiting UGS increased respondents’ positive
aect and life satisfaction in general and decreased negative aect. Specifically, respondents who
visited UGS within the past two weeks showed significantly higher positive aect and lower negative
aect than those who did not visit UGS. Similarly, respondents who regularly visited on a weekly or
monthly basis showed a higher level of life satisfaction in general than those who did not visit UGS at
all or only visited a few times (e.g., 1–3 times a year). This was also confirmed by estimated SEMs for
aect and life satisfaction. Regarding the eects of frequency of visits, we did not observe any dierence
between heavy users and moderate users in positive aect, negative aect, and life satisfaction in
general. The amount of time spent in UGS was an insignificant factor for all components of SWB (i.e.,
positive aect, negative aect, and life satisfaction in general). These results are likely due to the unique
characteristics of aective well-being components (i.e., positive aect and negative aect) and life
satisfaction (i.e., life satisfaction in general). According to the broaden-and-build theory, experiencing
positive emotions can broaden one’s momentary thought-action repertoires, and, in turn, serve to
build one’s enduring personal resources, such as physical, intellectual, social, and psychological
resources. In addition, experiencing positive emotions may initiate reciprocal interactions between
positive emotions and broadened thinking, and lead to increases in emotional well-being over time [
98
].
Overall, experiencing pleasant emotions (e.g., visiting UGS) did not persistently produce an increase
in positive emotions. Ong et al. [
128
] reported that repeatedly experiencing high levels of positive
emotions can mediate the negative influence of stress on one’s current negative emotions, and this
mediation eect can extend until the following day. In addition, aroused positive aect can be used as
a continuous resource for enhancing one’s ability to respond to new circumstances, resulting in a low
level of negative aect [
81
]. Repeatedly visiting UGS might evoke a low level of positive emotions, but
such accumulated experiences of positive emotions could enhance individuals’ long-term SWB [129].
In addition, prior research has shown that the emotional aspects (i.e., positive aect and negative aect)
of SWB have high temporal stability and sensitivity to short-term fluctuations while life satisfaction in
general is relatively stable over time [
70
]. In theory, life satisfaction (i.e., life satisfaction in general)
is a distinct concept from emotional well-being (i.e., positive aect, negative aect). An individual’s
positive or negative emotions can be derived from his/her cognitive evaluation, and an individual
considers these emotions (i.e., positive aect, negative aect) as criteria when judging his/her life
satisfaction [
108
]. From this perspective, positive aect/negative aect and life satisfaction in general
are interrelated. In general, positive aect/negative aect is a reaction to or appraisal of ongoing events,
whereas life satisfaction in general is a more comprehensive, long-term evaluation of one’s life [
130
,
131
].
Due to these interactive characteristics of life satisfaction in general and positive aect/negative aect,
respondents’ experienced an increased positive aect after visiting forests which enhanced their daily
life and life satisfaction in general.
In this context, the results of this study suggest that the positive emotions of urban dwellers may
be enhanced by small but frequent pleasurable experiences by visiting UGS in their daily lives, and such
enhanced positive emotions may broaden their coping skills in certain circumstances. For example,
coping resources and friendships can be considerably expanded through the increase in positive
emotions, enabling individuals to cope flexibly and creatively with dierent circumstances. However,
revisiting UGS sustains the increased positive emotions and broadens coping resources, thereby
building a positive cycle of visiting UGS, enhancing positive emotions, and increasing/broadening
coping ability. This positive cycling structure provides critical evidence supporting the need for urban
dwellers to visit UGS and for providing UGS.
We did not observe any significant eects based on the amount of time spent in UGS on SWB.
This was possibly because respondents evaluated visiting UGS overall as a positive experience and did
not evaluate individual activities experienced during each visit. This was, in part, associated with the
scale used in the study. Specifically, SPANE is a scale for measuring how often respondents experienced
positive/negative emotions. Visitors who spend more time in UGS might experience relatively more
positive and negative emotions than those who spend less time in UGS. However, the amount of time
Sustainability 2019,11, 4189 16 of 25
spent in UGS did not appear to be a significant factor because respondents comprehensively evaluated
visiting UGS based on the dierence in frequency of experiencing the two emotions [
132
]. In addition,
the amount of time spent in UGS might be associated with the intensity of experienced emotions.
However, we were unable to assess the intensity of emotions experienced during visits with SPANE.
Our results are consistent with the findings of prior studies (e.g., [
48
,
133
137
] that indicate that SWB
is influenced more by frequency of experience (i.e., the frequency of visits to UGS) than intensity of
experience (i.e., amount of time spent in UGS).
However, it is noteworthy that some studies have reported that the amount of time spent is as
important for SWB as frequency of visit (e.g., [
115
,
138
141
]). For example, university students who
reported longer amounts of time spent in green spaces showed high levels of life satisfaction and
low levels of stress (e.g., [
115
,
139
]). Korpela et al. [
138
] also reported that longer amounts of time
spent in nature-based recreation are associated with restorative experiences and perceived emotional
well-being, despite being reluctant to conclude that the time spent in urban forests is not associated
with SWB. In addition, the concept of regularity may be more important for life satisfaction than
simply frequency. As discussed earlier, life satisfaction is temporally stable, and there are accumulated
eects of experiencing positive emotions on life satisfaction. In this context, the temporal stability
of life satisfaction may be associated more with regularity of visits to UGS than frequency of visits
(e.g., [
48
,
55
]). However, this argument must be confirmed in further studies with separate measures
for eects of regular and irregular visits, while controlling for the total number of visits.
4.2. Eects of Motivation and Constraint
The estimated SEMs for positive/negative and life satisfaction with motivations and constraints
provided significant insight into improving the SWB of urban dwellers. In the estimated models,
the number of motivations increased the frequency of visits to UGS while the number of constraints
showed negative impacts. Also, we identified the primary motivation and constraint. Thus,
the fundamental strategy for improving SWB in urbanized areas must satisfy the primary motivations
while minimizing the constraints. In our study, the most frequently reported motivations included
certain terms such as “walk,” “away from home,” and “nature.” These terms belong to the “being
away” dimension of the attention restoration theory, proposed by Kaplan and Kaplan [
36
]. In the urban
context, the “being away” dimension is closely associated with visiting or moving to a dierent physical
environment (e.g., UGS and natural areas) or mentally engaging in a completely dierent activity
(e.g., recreational activities in forests or natural areas) as a break from daily urban life. The negative
impacts of access time to UGS on the frequency of visiting UGS were consistent in both SEMs for
positive/negative aect and life satisfaction. At the same time, the number of constraints negatively
aected the UGS visit frequency in the estimated SEMs. An easier way of minimizing the constraints
on visiting UGS may be to focus on the physical aspects of constraints reported by the LNgroup in the
study, such as the distribution of UGS, accessibility to forests, and poor facilities. Previous studies have
also reported the importance of the physical aspects of urban forests to promote visitation of forests,
such as good accessibility, maintained natural areas, and well-designed marked paths (e.g., [
115
,
142
]).
In similar contexts, recent studies have emphasized the importance of urban forest types [
118
,
119
],
quality of forests [120], context [47,143], and maintenance of facilities [32,123,124].
However, these terms are very vague and too broad for implementation in the design and planning
process, as well as in the management stage. Landscape designers, planners, and managers need
more information regarding specific attributes of UGS, such as trails, distributions, and maintenance.
To acquire such specific information of UGS attributes, the conjoint choice model may be beneficial
because it is able to make direct predictions on choices of respondents in the form of a logit model
by calculating the part-worth of attribute levels obtained from choice-type data [
144
]. For example,
Hong et al. [
97
] found that the primary salient attributes aecting whether people visit urban forests
were forest type, paving material of trail, topography, and travel time from home. At the same
time, they were able to specify attribute levels for each forest attribute preferred by forest visitors.
Sustainability 2019,11, 4189 17 of 25
Hypothetically, for example, it may be interesting to consider implementing our findings into a conjoint
choice model study, such as specifying attribute levels (e.g., soil-type pavement, wooden deck, or
porous elastic pavement) of paving materials in the urban forest to satisfy the motivation “to take a
walk” on the basis of people’s choices.
In terms of considering motivations and constraints, personality traits may play significant
roles in the negotiation process and even the way in which residents interact with UGS. Recently,
Holt et al. [
115
] classified green space users (i.e., undergraduate students) into active and passive
users by interaction types and reported that active users were more likely to report a high quality of
life, low stress, and the experience of positive emotions, whereas passive users of green space (e.g.,
sitting, studying, eating, or socializing in a natural setting) did not experience any change in well-being.
However, we did not collect data to verify the role of respondents’ personality traits in the negotiation
process or the association with their interaction with UGS in this study.
Additional personal and environmental factors have been found to be associated with the use of
UGS, such as perception of access, perception of features, sense of safety, lifestyle, and urban sprawl
(e.g., [
1
,
16
,
83
88
,
142
,
145
149
]); outdoor temperature (e.g., [
55
]); percentage of green space (e.g., [
55
]);
and familiarity with forests (e.g., [
10
,
149
151
]), despite some inconsistency in the results among the
studies. These factors are presumably used as resources in the negotiation process based on individuals’
value systems but were outside the scope of this study. Such factors may be explored in future studies
to better understand these relationships.
5. Conclusions
There is rich evidence indicating the numerous positive eects of UGS on urban dwellers, such as
enhancing physical/mental health, social interactions, and SWB, based on the attention restoration
theory, stress reduction theory, and the biophilia hypothesis. In this study, we examined the eects
of frequency of visits and time spent in UGS on the SWB of urban dwellers in the Deajeon, Korea.
In addition, we investigated the primary motivations and constraints of visiting UGS for heavy,
moderate, and light/non-users.
This paper makes a number of contributions to the literature on SWB. First, this study reinforces the
importance of urban green spaces for the subjective well-being of urban dwellers. Second, the results
of ANOVA and SEMs reveal that the frequency of visiting UGS positively aects the likelihood of
experiencing a higher level of positive aect, life satisfaction in general, and a lower level of negative
aect for urban dwellers. However, the amount of time spent in urban green space did not show
any significant eects on positive aect, negative aect, or life satisfaction in general. Third, this
study identifies the primary motivations for and constraints on visiting urban green spaces. The most
frequent are, respectively, ‘to take a walk’ and ‘no urban green space near home.’ However, the most
frequent motivations and constraints might vary across cities and countries because urban settings
vary considerably dierent. Finally, the estimated SEMs for positive/negative aect and life satisfaction
in general clearly showed the positive roles of motivation and the negative roles of constraints in
visiting UGS. However, we were not able to delineate the true nature of the negotiation process in the
study. As briefly discussed earlier, many variables such as personality traits, various environmental
factors, motivations, and constraints might be involved in each individual’s negotiation mechanism.
To understand these complex processes, a further study might require a more sophisticated and
comprehensive study design integrating sociodemographic characteristics, previous experiences,
and the given environmental conditions of a respondent, as well as various properties of urban
green spaces.
This study has several limitations. First, the age range of the respondents was limited to 20–59 years
because of costs and the survey method. Particularly, older residents (
60 years old) were excluded
from the target sample based on our use of an online survey method; we were not confident that
older residents are familiar enough with the online survey method. Leisure activities, such as visiting
UGS, are particularly important for older urban residents, and this group is more likely to visit UGS
Sustainability 2019,11, 4189 18 of 25
than any other age group because of the availability of time. In general, older individuals tend to feel
“happiness” from common and frequent experiences, instead of from extraordinary experiences [
152
].
Thus, inclusion of older residents might have produced dierent results. Second, we were unable
to include personality traits in the study. The influence of personality traits on SWB is particularly
important to understand the aective component of SWB [
153
,
154
], and extraversion has been shown
to be associated with experiencing more pleasure while neuroticism has been shown to be related
with experiencing more displeasure [
155
]. Thus, personality traits could be considered in a future
study to further delineate the nature of happiness associated with visiting UGS. Third, Oishi et al. [
156
]
argued that one’s satisfaction in the value-congruent domain was more strongly related to global life
satisfaction than satisfaction with particular domain. This suggests that the level of life satisfaction can
dier among individuals despite visiting the same UGS. This is because the relative importance of
each domain is dierent in each individual’s value system [
59
]. To reduce the complexity of the study
dimension, we were unable to integrate this issue into the study, and separate further investigations
are required to examine the possible connections between individuals’ relative importance of each
domain and life satisfaction from visiting UGS. In a way, these limitations highlight the importance of
individual value systems. Presumably, one’s value systems can vary by life stage, and personality
traits significantly aect the establishment of value systems. Relative importance of each domain in
life satisfaction can be understood as a critical characteristic of an individual’s value system derived
by one’s life stage and personality traits. In addition, we strongly believe that these factors are
significantly associated with the negotiation process with one’s own motivations and constraints.
In the study, we investigated the eects of motivations and constraints using SEMs for aect and life
satisfaction models, and we found consistent positive eects for motivations and negative eects for
constraints. However, we were not able to examine how the negotiation process operated in the context
of an individual’s life stage, personality traits, spatial property, and given urban setting, as well as
motivations and constraints. The detailed negotiation process of an individual with relevant factors
could be investigated in an additional study with a more sophisticated study design and survey.
Author Contributions:
S.-K.H. was responsible for the data acquisition and statistical analysis. S.-W.L. and M.Y.
wrote the manuscript and performed additional statistical analysis. H.-K.J. was the principal investigator of this
project and performed the preliminary study prior to the main survey.
Funding:
This study was conducted with the support of the ‘R&D Program for Forest Science Technology (Project
No. 2017043B10-1919-BB01)’ provided by the Korea Forest Service (Korea Forestry Promotion Institute).
Conflicts of Interest: The authors declare no conflicts of interest.
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... Nature has psychological restorative and mental relaxation potential (Kaplan 1995;Kaplan et al. 1993aKaplan et al. , 1993bUlrich 1983;Ulrich et al. 1991), and urban green spaces are a significant form of nature. It is highly accepted that UGSs provide a natural platform for social cohesion and societal interaction, which causes social harmony (Dadvand et al. 2019;Hong et al. 2019;Larson et al. 2016). Overall life satisfaction and happiness were also positively associated with UGSs (Dadvand et al. 2019;Mavoa et al. 2019). ...
... Various studies support the finding of the current study, like 'green spaces actively encourage humans' physical health' concluded by Holt and Nath (Holt et al. 2019;Nath et al. 2018). In Daejeon (South Korea), frequent visits and maximum time spent in the natural environment were found significant for human physical health (Hong et al. 2019).Moreover, the nearness of green spaces delivers more advantages to people in London (UK), and 300 meters is determined as the best range of access to reap the highest benefits Kothencz et al. 2017). So, there is a wide range of connections between urban greenery and human well-being. ...
... The residents who are closely inter-connected with UGSs of the study area were found more active in social interaction. Green spaces improve social well-being by offering an optimal platform for social interaction (Hong et al. 2019), and almost similar results were found in Lahore, and the residents who keep active in social interaction found more inter-connected with urban green spaces. Urban parks found a source of social well-being by reducing social isolation, as concluded by Dadvant et al. (2019). ...
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... This is true for each individual sample and the two samples combined. This finding endorses a study which found that frequency of visits, not amount of time spent in urban green areas, significantly and positively predicts life satisfaction for residents in Daejeon City, South Korea [71]. Thus, frequent visits to urban green areas mean more than duration in increasing positive emotions, "leading to a feeling of happiness in daily life" [71] (p. ...
... This finding endorses a study which found that frequency of visits, not amount of time spent in urban green areas, significantly and positively predicts life satisfaction for residents in Daejeon City, South Korea [71]. Thus, frequent visits to urban green areas mean more than duration in increasing positive emotions, "leading to a feeling of happiness in daily life" [71] (p. 2). ...
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... In the literature, park use behavior has been studied in combination with the subjective well-being of individuals (e.g., Hong et al. (2019) [44]), but not often in combination with experiences or sense of place. Hong et al. (2019) [44] found that the number of visits to a park influences the subjective well-being of individuals. ...
... In the literature, park use behavior has been studied in combination with the subjective well-being of individuals (e.g., Hong et al. (2019) [44]), but not often in combination with experiences or sense of place. Hong et al. (2019) [44] found that the number of visits to a park influences the subjective well-being of individuals. Moreover, a meta-analysis by Barton and Pretty (2010) [45] showed an inverted U-curve relationship between the duration of green exercise (such as walking in nature) and beneficial effects on mood, with a significant change observed in the effects for small (5 min) and large durations (whole day) compared to medium (10-60 min, half a day) durations of exposure. ...
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... Consistent with a study in Beijing [63], the current study found that the number of years lived in a community affects people's well-being. In a more riparian or natural environment with a large expanse of vegetated areas and water bodies such as the current study area, the relationship between years lived in a community and respondents' well-being can be explained by the biophilia hypothesis [23] and the Kaplan and Kaplan model [24]. ...
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... In this study, the respondents also show that they frequently visit at least weekly (34.33%) or monthly (33.58%) before the Covid-19 pandemic. People who had come to urban green spaces within the past two weeks were associated with higher positive emotions (Hong et al. 2019). ...
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... These impacts on mental wellbeing (namely acting as a protective factor Melis et al. 2015) are noticeable among women, those under 60 years of age, and residents in areas with low socioeconomic status (Sarkar et al. 2018). According to Hong et al. (2019), regular visitors or periodic users, i.e., those that visit green spaces fortnightly, express higher general life satisfaction levels. ...
Chapter
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Background: At a time of increasing disconnectedness from nature, scientific interest in the potential health benefits of nature contact has grown. Research in recent decades has yielded substantial evidence, but large gaps remain in our understanding. Objectives: We propose a research agenda on nature contact and health, identifying principal domains of research and key questions that, if answered, would provide the basis for evidence-based public health interventions. Discussion: We identify research questions in seven domains: a) mechanistic biomedical studies; b) exposure science; c) epidemiology of health benefits; d) diversity and equity considerations; e) technological nature; f) economic and policy studies; and g) implementation science. Conclusions: Nature contact may offer a range of human health benefits. Although much evidence is already available, much remains unknown. A robust research effort, guided by a focus on key unanswered questions, has the potential to yield high-impact, consequential public health insights. https://doi.org/10.1289/EHP1663.
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The authors integrate concepts in conjoint analysis and discrete choice theory in econometrics to develop a new approach to the design and analysis of controlled consumer choice or resource allocation experiments. The article is concerned with estimating the parameters of conjoint-type functions from discrete choice or allocation data. Emphasis is placed on the multinomial logit model and aggregate choice or allocation data to illustrate the concepts in a series of empirical examples ranging from simple to complex. The authors present limited external validity evidence to support the approach and make comparisons with traditional conjoint approaches.
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Background: Urban greenspace can benefit mental health through multiple mechanisms. They may work together, but previous studies have treated them as independent. Objectives: We aimed to compare single and parallel mediation models, which estimate the independent contributions of different paths, to several models that posit serial mediation components in the pathway from greenspace to mental health. Methods: We collected cross-sectional survey data from 399 participants (15 – 25 years of age) in the city of Plovdiv, Bulgaria. Objective “exposure” to urban residential greenspace was defined by the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI), Soil Adjusted Vegetation Index, Tree cover density within the 500-m buffer, and Euclidean distance to the nearest urban greenspace. Self-reported measures of availability, access, quality, and usage of greenspace were also used. Mental health was measured with the General Health Questionnaire. The following potential mediators were considered in single and parallel mediation models: restorative quality of the neighborhood, neighborhood social cohesion, commuting and leisure time physical activity, road traffic noise annoyance, and perceived air pollution. Four models were tested with the following serial mediation components: (1) restorative quality  social cohesion; (2) restorative quality  physical activity; (3) perceived traffic pollution  restorative quality; (4) and noise annoyance  physical activity. Results: There was no direct association between objectively-measured greenspace and mental health. For the 500-m buffer, the tests of the single mediator models suggested that restorative quality mediated the relationship between NDVI and mental health. Tests of parallel mediation models did not find any significant indirect effects. In line with theory, tests of the serial mediation models showed that higher restorative quality was associated with more physical activity and more social cohesion, and in turn with better mental health. As for self-reported greenspace measures, single mediation through restorative quality was significant only for time in greenspace, and there was no mediation though restorative quality in the parallel mediation models; however, serial mediation through restorative quality and social cohesion/physical activity was indicated for all self-reported measures except for greenspace quality. Conclusions: Statistical models should adequately address the theoretically indicated interdependencies between mechanisms underlying association between greenspace and mental health. If such causal relationships hold, testing mediators alone or in parallel may lead to incorrect inferences about the relative contribution of specific paths, and thus to inappropriate intervention strategies.
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Background: In a rapidly urbanizing world, many people have little contact with natural environments, which may affect health and well-being. Existing reviews generally conclude that residential greenspace is beneficial to health. However, the processes generating these benefits and how they can be best promoted remain unclear. Objectives: During an Expert Workshop held in September 2016, the evidence linking greenspace and health was reviewed from a transdisciplinary standpoint, with a particular focus on potential underlying biopsychosocial pathways and how these can be explored and organized to support policy-relevant population health research. Discussions: Potential pathways linking greenspace to health are here presented in three domains, which emphasize three general functions of greenspace: reducing harm (e.g. reducing exposure to air pollution, noise and heat), restoring capacities (e.g. attention restoration and physiological stress recovery) and building capacities (e.g. encouraging physical activity and facilitating social cohesion). Interrelations between among the three domains are also noted. Among several recommendations, future studies should: use greenspace and behavioural measures that are relevant to hypothesized pathways; include assessment of presence, access and use of greenspace; use longitudinal, interventional and (quasi)experimental study designs to assess causation; and include low and middle income countries given their absence in the existing literature. Cultural, climatic, geographic and other contextual factors also need further consideration. Conclusions: While the existing evidence affirms beneficial impacts of greenspace on health, much remains to be learned about the specific pathways and functional form of such relationships, and how these may vary by context, population groups and health outcomes. This Report provides guidance for further epidemiological research with the goal of creating new evidence upon which to develop policy recommendations.
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