Aggression and violence in the inner city, effects of environment via mental fatigue

Frances E. Kuo, William C. Sullivan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

S. Kaplan suggested that one outcome of mental fatigue may be an increased propensity for outbursts of anger and even violence. If so, contact with nature, which appears to mitigate mental fatigue, may reduce aggression and violence. This study investigated that possibility in a setting and population with relatively high rates of aggression: inner-city urban public housing residents. Levels of aggression were compared for 145 urban public housing residents randomly assigned to buildings with varying levels of nearby nature (trees and grass). Attentional functioning was assessed as an index of mental fatigue. Residents living in relatively barren buildings reported more aggression and violence than did their counterparts in greener buildings. Moreover, levels of mental fatigue were higher in barren buildings, and aggression accompanied mental fatigue. Tests for the proposed mechanism and for alternative mechanisms indicated that the relationship between nearby nature and aggression was fully mediated through attentional functioning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)543-571
Number of pages29
JournalEnvironment and Behavior
Volume33
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)

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