April 15, 2021 BMS lab

Green Spaces & Safety – Research Update!

The ever-rising concerns about safety perceptions in public places are widely spread across the world. Since safety is the primary component of quality of life, it has sparked researchers’ interest. It is noteworthy that research has identified a relationship between urban green spaces (UGS) and perceptions of safety. 

To investigate the topic, Kaya-Malin Franke, MSc Psychology of Conflict, Risk and Safety student, researched at the BMS Lab.

The goal was to determine to what extent the presence and maintenance of UGS affect safety perceptions and interpretations of an ambiguous situation. 

Therefore, Kaya used three groups and three VR environments. One of them had neat green spaces and one with abandoned green spaces. Lastly, one of the environments was without green spaces. The environments can be seen in the galley below. The participants faced the same middle-to-low socioeconomic status and faced both daylight and night experience. To learn more about Kaya’s research focus and methodology, click here to watch a video about them. 

Findings and Discussion

The research findings were surprising. They indicate that the state or presence of UGS makes no difference in how safe people feel. The state or presence of UGS makes no difference in how people frame social situations in their immediate physical environment.  

Furthermore, Kaya presented numerous discussion points based on the unexpected findings. She suggests that the degree to which neat UGS affect perceptions of safety and induce people to frame an ambiguous situation in more positive terms seems to depend on the situated context. Additionally, well-maintained UGS alone might not be enough to considerably influence cognitive responses comprising perceptions of safety and social encounters. Kaya acknowledges that the study findings could also point towards focusing on the interaction of several social or physical features of the built environment. Lastly, she suggests a situational setting calls for particular attention to the level of maintenance and visibility of UGS to overshadow the negative effects of other environmental cues.

If you have any questions about the research, you can contact Kaya on her email address:  kaya_95@hotmail.de. You can also contact her on her LinkedIn profile.

Interested in reading the full thesis? It will soon be available on the Alumni pages of University of Twente.