Urbanicity presents a challenge for the pursuit of sustainability. High settlement density may offer some environmental, economic, and social advantages, but it can impose psychological demands that people find excessive. These demands of urban life have stimulated a desire for contact with nature through suburban residence, leading to planning and transportation practices that have profound implications for the pursuit of sustainability. Some might dismiss people's desire for contact with nature as the result of an anti-urban bias in conjunction with a romantic view of nature. However, research in environmental psychology suggests that people's desire for contact with nature serves an important adaptive function, namely, psychological restoration. Based on this insight, we offer a perspective on an underlying practical challenge: designing communities that balance settlement density with satisfactory access to nature experience. We discuss research on four issues: how people tend to believe that nature is restorative; how restoration needs and beliefs shape environmental preferences; how well people actually achieve restoration in urban and natural environments; and how contact with nature can promote health. In closing, we consider urban nature as a design option that promotes urban sustainability.
|Journal||Journal of Social Issues|
|Publication status||Published - 2007|
- psychological restoration
- environmental preferences