Place Attachment & Meaning

Place attachment and meaning are underlying human experiences that shape urban development and community building. Attachment and meaning emerge from a variety of experiences and situations. Nature is a key aspect of many places that are important to people. The experience of place is part of our sense of self, of community, and a connectedness to everyday life.

Fast Facts

  • Place attachment and meaning are person-place bonds that evolve through emotion and cognition to a specific place and/or features of a place.
  • Frequent use of a green space and its proximity to one’s home can increase an individual’s attachment to the place.1,2
  • The attachment and meaning of a green place can encourage individuals to actively steward it and engage in pro-environmental behavior.3,4
  • Enduring place attachments and meanings are often developed at an early age.5,6 Children often prefer natural over man-made environments.7 Many environmentalist cite their childhood experiences in nature as the foundations for their work.8
  • Greener neighborhoods, especially those with green common areas, can encourage social bonding between neighbors and improve the social setting.9,10 Residents that are more attached to their community have higher levels of social cohesion and social control, less fear of crime, and display more signals of physical revitalization of the neighborhood.11

More information later . . . .



1. Farnum, J, T Hall, and LE Kruger. 2005. Sense of Place in Natural Resource Recreation and Tourism: An Evaluation and Assessment of Research Findings. General Technical Report PNW-GTR-660, USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station, 59 pp.

2. Moore, RL, and D Scott. 2003. Place Attachment and Context: Comparing a Park and a Trail Within. Forest Science 49, 6:877-884.

3. Hartig, T, F Kaiser, and P Bowler. 2001. Psychological restoration in nature as a positive motivation for ecological behavior. Environment and Behavior 33:590-607.

4. Manzo, LC, and DD Perkins. 2006. Finding Common Ground: The Importance of Place Attachment to Community Participation and Planning. Journal of Planning Literature 20:335.

5. Sobel, D. 1990. A Place in the World: Adults’ Memories of Childhood’s Special Places. Children’s Environments Quarterly 6, 4:25–31.

6. Morgan, P. 2010. Towards a Developmental Theory of Place Attachment. Journal of Environmental Psychology 30:11-22.

7. Moore, R. 1986. The Power of Nature Orientations of Girls and Boys Toward Biotic and Abiotic Play Settings on a Reconstructed Schoolyard. Children’s Environments Quarterly 6, 1:3-6.

8. Chawla, L. 1999. Life Paths into Effective Environmental Action. Journal of Environmental Education 31, 1:15-26.

9. Coley, RL, FE KUO, and WC Sullivan. 1997. Where Does Community Grow? The Social Context Created by Nature in Urban Public Housing. Environmental Behavior 294:468-492.

10. Kuo, FE, and WC Sullivan. 1998. Fertile Ground for Community: Inner-City Neighborhood Common Spaces. American Journal of Community Psychology 26: 823-851.

11. Brown, BB, D Perkins, and G Brown. 2003. Place Attachment in a Revitalizing Neighborhood: Individual and Block Levels of Analysis. Journal of Environmental Psychology 23:259–71.


credit: Margaret Bourke-White, Lunch Atop a Skyscraper, c. 1932

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