Does vegetation density and perceptions predict green stormwater infrastructure preference?

Pongsakorn Suppakittpaisarn, Chun Yen Chang, Brian Deal, Linda Larsen, William C. Sullivan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Green Stormwater Infrastructure (GSI) is being implemented in cities around the globe. Although we know that GSI improves urban ecosystems in a variety of ways, we know little about the extent to which the characteristics of GSI impact human perception and preference. This gap in knowledge necessitates a greater understanding of the relationship between GSI perceptions and preference. Without this knowledge, designers and planners risk creating landscapes that people dislike, and from which they reap few health benefits. To address this gap, we deployed four sets of similar questionnaires globally in Amazon Turk. Each had 54 urban street photographs from US cities with varying levels of tree and bioretention planting density that were photomanipulated from six original images. In three questionnaires, participants rated how natural, safe, or messy they perceived the landscapes to be on a five-point Likert scale. The other questionnaire asked participants to rate their preference for each image. The researchers then examined the relationships between vegetation density, perceptions, and preference (n = 427). The results demonstrate that vegetation density levels significantly influenced people's preference, perceived safety, and perceived naturalness. Furthermore, perceived safety and naturalness strongly correlated with preference while the three landscape characteristics predicted preference. These findings can be used to improve the design of urban GSI and help people reap the benefits of nature. Future studies should investigate the effects of seasons, the influences of cues of care, and international applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number126842
JournalUrban Forestry and Urban Greening
StatePublished - Nov 2020


  • Landscape characteristics
  • Perceived messiness
  • Perceived naturalness
  • Perceived safety
  • Urban landscapes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Forestry
  • Ecology
  • Soil Science


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