Why do poor people perceive poor neighbourhoods? The role of objective neighbourhood features and psychosocial factors

Health Place. 2010 Jul;16(4):744-54. doi: 10.1016/j.healthplace.2010.03.006. Epub 2010 Mar 23.


Compared to people with a high socioeconomic status, those with a lower socioeconomic status are more likely to perceive their neighbourhood as unattractive and unsafe, which is associated with their lower levels of physical activity. Agreement between objective and perceived environmental factors is often found to be moderate or low, so it is questionable to what extent 'creating supportive neighbourhoods' would change neighbourhood perceptions. This study among residents (N=814) of fourteen neighbourhoods in the city of Eindhoven (the Netherlands), investigated to what extent socioeconomic differences in perceived neighbourhood safety and perceived neighbourhood attractiveness can be explained by five domains of objective neighbourhood features (i.e. design, traffic safety, social safety, aesthetics, and destinations), and to what extent other factors may play a role. Unfavourable neighbourhood perceptions of low socioeconomic groups partly reflected their actual less aesthetic and less safe neighbourhoods, and partly their perceptions of low social neighbourhood cohesion and adverse psychosocial circumstances.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Educational Status
  • Esthetics
  • Female
  • Health Status
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Income / statistics & numerical data
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Psychological
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Netherlands
  • Poverty / psychology*
  • Residence Characteristics* / statistics & numerical data
  • Safety
  • Social Environment
  • Transportation
  • Urban Health* / statistics & numerical data