Mapping residents' perceptions of neighborhood boundaries: a methodological note

Am J Community Psychol. 2001 Apr;29(2):371-83. doi: 10.1023/A:1010303419034.


Neighborhood influences on children and youth are the subjects of increasing numbers of studies, but there is concern that these investigations may be biased, because they typically rely on census-based units as proxies for neighborhoods. This pilot study tested several methods of defining neighborhood units based on maps drawn by residents, and compared the results with census definitions of neighborhoods. When residents' maps were used to create neighborhood boundary definitions, the resulting units covered different space and produced different social indicator values than did census-defined units. Residents' agreement about their neighborhoods' boundaries differed among the neighborhoods studied. This pilot study suggests that discrepancies between researcher and resident-defined neighborhoods are a possible source of bias in studies of neighborhood effects.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bias
  • Censuses
  • Child
  • Child Abuse / statistics & numerical data*
  • Geography
  • Health Status Indicators*
  • Humans
  • Maps as Topic
  • Ohio / epidemiology
  • Pilot Projects
  • Research Design*
  • Residence Characteristics / classification*
  • Residence Characteristics / statistics & numerical data
  • Social Environment*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Urban Population