Coping with poverty. Impacts of environment and attention in the inner city

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Considerable evidence suggests that exposure to "green" environments can enhance human effectiveness and make life's demands seem manageable. Does this phenomenon extend to poor inner cities, where green space is minimal and life's demands may be overwhelming? In 145 urban public housing residents randomly assigned to buildings with and without nearby nature, attentional functioning and effectiveness in managing major life issues were compared. Residents living in buildings without nearby trees and grass reported more procrastination in facing their major issues and assessed their issues as more severe, less soluble, and more longstanding than did their counterparts living in greener surroundings. Mediation tests and extensive tests for possible confounds supported the attention restoration hypothesis- that green space enhances residents' effectiveness by reducing mental fatigue. These findings suggest that urban public housing environments could be configured to enhance residents' psychological resources for coping with poverty.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5-34
Number of pages30
JournalEnvironment and Behavior
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Environmental Science


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