The association between walkability and personality: Evidence from a large socioecological study in Japan

Friedrich M. Götz, Shinya Yoshino, Atsushi Oshio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Geographical personality differences robustly predict diverse consequential outcomes. However, comparatively little is known about the factors that create such differences, in particular the role of the built environment. To bridge the gap, the present study used a socioecological approach to examine the relationship between walkability and personality. Walkability reflects the degree to which urban areas are easily walkable and accessible for pedestrians. As such it is considered a defining feature of people's living environments. We utilized a large sample from the Data Sharing for Psychology in Japan (DSPJ) project, which assessed the Big Five personality traits of 5141 Japanese residents. Walkability estimates were extracted from Walk Score, an established online platform, based on individuals' place of living. Building on prior research, we hypothesized that walkability would be positively linked to Agreeableness and Extraversion due to increased opportunities for social interactions and selective migration. Multiple regression analyses showed that walkability was positively related to Extraversion (B = 0.033; 95%CI [0.019, 0.047]; β = 0.066), but not to Agreeableness. This pattern persisted in the presence of a conservative set of individual and socioecological controls. Taken together, our research suggests that walkable urban environments may be conducive to a more animated and lively social climate which is reflected in heightened extraversion among residents of such areas. As such it advances psych-geographical theory and our understanding of the role of the built environment in the emergence of geographical personality differences.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101438
JournalJournal of Environmental Psychology
Volume69
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Jun

Keywords

  • Big five personality
  • City design
  • Environmental studies
  • Geographical psychology
  • Japan
  • Socioecological psychology
  • Urban planning
  • Walkability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Applied Psychology

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