by FE Kuo

Environment and Behavior 33(1): 5-34


This study builds on considerable evidence from previous work pointing to “green” environments in and around one’s neighborhood as a critical element in enhancing human effectiveness and ability to manage life’s demands. The study tests those findings to see if nature nearby improves residents’ effectiveness in coping with poverty in inner-city neighborhoods. The experimental design consisted of an extensive survey that compared the responses of 145 public housing residents with or without access to nearby nature regarding attentional functioning (tasks procrastination) and effectiveness in managing life’s issues (perception about the solubility, persistence, and severity of problems). The study sought to identify which forms or doses of nature boost effectiveness and which do not. In the second instance, the study explored the mechanism(s) underlying the nature-effectiveness relationship. And lastly, the study looked at tasks or performances that are likely to benefit from nature exposure. Results showed that the greenspace did improve residents’ effectiveness via a decrease in mental fatigue. Less greenspace was associated with more procrastination, and a perception that their issues were more severe and more long-standing. This study suggests that greening poor inner-city neighborhoods is a low-cost and effective environmental intervention that equips individuals and families with the psychological resources needed to combat the manifestations of poverty.

Region: Chicago, Illinois
Publication Type: Journal article
Keywords: contact with nature, human health and well-being, residential, and urban nature