Susan J. Farrell, Tim Aubry, and Daniel Coulombe
University of Ottawa

The present study examined the relationship between characteristics of neighborhoods (with set physical boundaries and relatively homogeneous populations) and personal well-being as mediated by sense of community and neighboring behavior. A randomly selected representative sample of 345 residents living in non-apartment dwellings in Winnipeg, Canada, completed a mail survey that included created measures of neighboring and sense of community and the General Health Questionnaire. Results demonstrated that sense of community mediates the relationship between neighborhood stability (as defined by the marital status and mobility) and residents’ well-being. The frequency of engaging in neighboring behavior was not directly predictive of residents’ sense of personal well-being, but was predictive of increased sense of community. Consistent with previous research, findings highlight the importance of building a sense of community among residents in a neighborhood. Implications of findings for neighborhood planning are discussed. © 2004 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

“Sense of Community” and “neighboring” are two important concepts that have received research attention in community psychology ~MacMillan & Chavis, 1986; Sarason, 1974; Skjaeveland, Garling, & Maeland, 1996; Unger & Wandersman, 1985!. Sarason’s ~1974! seminal work on sense of community defined the concept as “the sense that
The research was supported by a grant from the Manitoba Mental Health Research Foundation. The first author was a holder of a Social Science Humanities Research Council Graduate Scholarship during the write-up of the paper. The second author was a holder of a Canada Mortgage Housing Corporation Graduate Scholarship during the conducting of the study. Correspondence to: Susan J. Farrell, Ph.D., Royal Ottawa Hospital, 1145 Carling Avenue, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K1Z 7K4. E-mail: sfarrell@rohcg.on.ca

JOURNAL OF COMMUNITY PSYCHOLOGY, Vol. 32, No. 1, 9–25 (2004) © 2004 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Published online in Wiley InterScience (www.interscience.wiley.com). DOI: 10.1002/jcop.10082


Journal of Community Psychology, January 2004

one was part of a readily supportive network of relationships upon which one could depend” ~p.1!. Individuals can experience sense of community in geographical terms such as with neighbors or in relational terms such as with other sharing similar interests ~e.g., professions, political organizations! ~Gusfield, 1975!. Neighboring has been defined as the exchange of social support between persons living in close proximity ~Kahn & Antonucci, 1980; Weiss, 1982!. Although sense of community and neighboring have been shown to be related closely ~Skjaeveland et al. 1996; Unger & Wandersman, 1985!, researchers usually have differentiated them as two different aspects of an individual’s relationship to his0her neighborhood and neighbors. Sense of community is a psychological variable referring to beliefs and attitudes about neighbors and the neighborhood ~McMillan & Chavis, 1986!. In contrast, neighboring is a behavioral variable involving social interaction and the exchange of support between neighbors ~Unger & Wandersman, 1985!. The intention of the present study was to examine sense of community and neighboring as mediators of the relationship between neighborhood characteristics and the psychological well-being of community residents. SENSE OF COMMUNITY MacMillan and Chavis ~1986! proposed four elements as being central to sense of community: membership, influence, integration and fulfillment of needs, and shared emotional connection. Based on this make-up, Glynn ~1986! found “that the neighborhood remains a significant contributor to the development and maintenance of sense of community” ~p.350!. Therefore it becomes important to consider elements of the neighborhood that contribute to the development and maintenance of sense of community. Research to date has identified only a few neighborhood-level variables that are associated with sense of community in residents. Weenig, Schmidt, and Midden ~1990! found that residents of “high-rise” neighborhoods ~i.e., preponderance of apartments of four or more stories! had a lower sense of community than residents in “low-rise” neighborhoods. A plausible explanation for this finding is that living in high-rise buildings fosters greater privacy, anonymity, and fewer opportunities for social interactions with neighbors than single-family dwellings. Wilson and Baldassare ~1996! examined sense of community for residents of a suburban region and found that privacy in the home is an important factor contributing to the personal well-being of residents. They observed an overwhelming preference for single-family detached homes that offered residents the ability to regulate privacy and unwanted interactions while creating opportunities for residents to engage in local interactions with less stress. They further suggested that “larger, denser, and more socially diverse urban communities are supposed to create more personal stress and social conflict, which result in personal unhappiness and a decline in community” ~p.30!. Although the dimensions of privacy ~as provided by type of housing! and density of housing have been considered, there has been no examination of how other neighborhood-level characteristics such as the composition of the neighborhood contributes to sense of community. Instead, most research has investigated the relationship between sense of community and different types of neighborhood participation. Participation in a variety of community organizations ~e.g., church groups, PTA, civic groups and local political activities! has been shown to be related to sense of

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community ~Davidson & Cotter, 1989; Florin & Wandersman, 1984; Wandersman & Giamartino, 1980!. Chavis and Wandersman ~1990! examined the role of sense of community in promoting local action. They demonstrated that greater sense of community was related to more participation in block associations, increased neighborhood satisfaction, more positive social relations with neighbors, and increasing perceived control over one’s immediate environment. They interpreted their findings as indicative of the importance of sense of community in the promotion of neighborhood development efforts. Glynn ~1981! found several characteristics of individuals that held positive relationships with sense of community. These included the number of years married, number of children living at home, stability ~e.g., number of years! in the community, number of neighbors one is able to identify, and satisfaction with the community. Additionally, Buckner ~1988! found that the number of years lived in the neighborhood and level of education were significant predictors of sense of community. Robinson and Wilkinson ~1995! also found that neighborhood cohesion was related positively to number of years in neighborhood and home ownership, whereas it was related negatively to income and education. Some empirical findings have shown that psychological benefits may accrue from experiencing a higher sense of community. Riger and Lavrakas ~1981! indicated that sense of community can be an explanatory tool for individual well-being. In studying the town of Seaside, Florida ~a town designed to examine the impact of town design and philosophy!, feelings of membership, need fulfillment, and shared emotional connections with neighbors were shown to be associated with individual health. A link between sense of community and sense of well-being makes intuitive sense, yet few studies have addressed such a relationship. Bachrach and Zautra ~1985! demonstrated the psychological benefits of having a strong sense of community in the investigation of the coping responses of residents in a rural community in the context of a proposed hazardous-waste facility. Findings revealed that a stronger sense of community led to increased problem-focused coping, which in turn contributed significantly to the degree of individuals’ community involvement. Davidson and Cotter ~1991! demonstrated a link between sense of community and general happiness. Prezza and Constantini ~1998! examined sense of community, self-esteem, life satisfaction, and perceived social support of residents living in three Italian localities: a small town in Viterbo, Italy ~1693 inhabitants!, a small seaside city in Aquila, Italy ~21,101 inhabitants! and in a larger city, Naples ~52,434 inhabitants!. They found that sense of community and life satisfaction were higher for residents of the small town than in the small or large cities, and that sense of community was related only to life satisfaction for residents of the small town and the small city. A later study comparing a large town, a small town, and a city found sense of community related to life satisfaction and loneliness in all three locales ~Prezza, Amicci, Roberti, & Tedeschi, 2001!. Review of the relatively few empirical studies to date shows that sense of community is an important variable for consideration in investigations focusing on neighborhood issues. Hill ~1996! concluded that “psychological sense of community is an aggregate variable, and is most useful when studied at the community level of measurement” ~p.433!. It is also a positive resource for individuals and neighborhoods, stimulating community development efforts and positive relations between neighbors and promoting personal well-being.


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NEIGHBORING The exchange of social support between neighbors that is commonly referred to as “neighboring” can involve offering personal0emotional, functional0instrumental, or informational forms of support ~Kahn & Antonucci, 1980; Weiss, 1982!. This support can involve such things as borrowing or lending tools, informal visiting, asking for help in an emergency, etc. Royal and Rossi ~1996! noted that there are negative consequences of increasing urbanization on the quality of neighborhood community life, including neighboring behavior. Research has found that neighboring varies across different types of neighborhoods. Homogeneous neighborhoods with regard to socio-economic status have shown higher levels of neighboring than heterogeneous neighborhoods ~Unger & Wandersman, 1982!. In contrast, level of socio-economic status has not been found to be related to neighboring behavior. Other neighborhood-level correlates shown to be related positively to neighboring have included mean income of residents and the proportion of Caucasians, Catholics, and homeowners living in the same neighborhood ~Ahlbrandt, 1984!. Areas with homogeneous populations ~i.e., socioeconomic status @SES#, race, religion! are more likely to have residents who share similar values and interests. As a result, greater interaction between neighbors is facilitated. Homeowners tend to have a greater investment in the neighborhood, thereby encouraging them to have more involvement with their neighbors. The physical features of the neighborhood—such as the proximity of homes, placement of doors of homes ~i.e., closer to one another!, and location of recreational facilities—also have been found to be related to neighboring ~Appleyard & Lintell, 1972; Caplow & Forman, 1950; Festinger, Schacter, & Back, 1950!. Such features may serve to facilitate social interaction between neighbors by decreasing the distance between them. A limitation of the research on neighborhood-level correlates of neighboring is that they are investigated at the census-track level, using large areas as the unit of analysis, often including several distinct neighborhoods within a census tract. The problem with this approach is that the heterogeneity of the constituent neighborhoods often is lost in the classification of the larger areas. Wiesenfeld ~1996! noted that communities are dynamic and historically determined. She argued that in studying communities, large definitions of neighborhoods ~such as those used in census track data! do not account for the heterogeneity of different communities, and therefore ignore the stages of the process of neighborhood development through which both neighborhoods and their members pass. What would be of more value in the investigation of the impact of the types of neighborhoods on neighboring behaviors would be to have smaller homogeneous neighborhoods as units for analysis, and compare the units according to a specified criteria ~e.g., house types, age of dwelling units, family status, age-based population!. The coding of census data has only recently allowed for more fine-grained analysis involving smaller areas as the units of analysis ~Currie, 1989!. Neighboring has been found to be related to various types of community involvement and feelings of attachment to, loyalty to, and satisfaction with the neighborhood ~Ahlbrandt, 1984!. Prezza and her colleagues ~2001! found that neighboring relations were stronger for women, members of large families, and those with less education who had lived in the community for many years and were members of groups or associations. They also noted that the strongest predictor of sense of community was

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neighborhood relations. In addition, social support derived through social interaction between neighbors likely contributes to a greater sense of well-being. Furthermore, a sense of personal well-being may facilitate an individual’s interest in neighboring activities. Review of the relevant studies suggests that neighboring behavior is an important variable for consideration in investigating neighborhood issues. It is associated with both neighborhood characteristics and personal well-being. RATIONALE The purpose of the present study was to examine the relationship between neighborhood characteristics and personal well-being as mediated by sense of community and neighboring. To date, few studies have been conducted to examine the relationship between types of neighborhoods and sense of well-being. Brown ~1995! observed that “little is understood about the neighborhood contextual effects on human behavior and affective states” ~p.541!. Adams ~1992! investigated the influence of urban versus suburban neighborhoods on psychological health ~as measured by perceived quality of life and self-efficacy!. Results revealed that people living in the suburbs were no more likely to express greater satisfaction with their neighborhood, the quality of their lives, or experience greater self-efficacy than those living in the city. Although it is important to examine qualitative differences between suburban and urban neighborhoods, looking only at differences between suburban and urban areas ~which may encompass a variety of neighborhoods within each area! does not provide information about the effect of a specific neighborhood on the self-efficacy of its residents. Brown ~1995! commented that a limitation of such types of analyses is the restricted scope of neighborhood conditions investigated. The present study examined the relationship between the characteristics of different neighborhood areas ~with set physical boundaries and relatively homogeneous populations! with personal well-being. In the proposed model ~see Figure 1!, sense of community and neighboring behavior were hypothesized as mediators. Therefore, it was predicted that neighborhood characteristics would be related to sense of community and neighboring behavior. In turn, sense of community and neighboring behavior were expected to be associated positively with sense of well-being. METHOD Data collected in the study formed part of a mail survey completed by residents living in Winnipeg, Canada, in 1989 that focused on their beliefs, attitudes, and behavioral intentions regarding having persons with psychiatric disabilities as neighbors ~Aubry, Tefft, & Currie, 1995a, 1995b!. Study Sample The population universe of the study involved all households ~excluding nursing homes, temporary shelters, apartment units, vacant homes, and households serving exclusively as businesses! located in Winnipeg, Manitoba. The latter types of residences were excluded since the original study focused on public responses to having persons with psychiatric disabilities as neighbors. It was expected that the issue would


Journal of Community Psychology, January 2004

Figure 1. Proposed model.

not be relevant to persons living in these residences. A systematic random sample of 590 households from the population universe was generated for the study by computer from the 1987 tax-assessment file of the City of Winnipeg Environmental Planning Department. This listing is an accurate record of all households in Winnipeg, Canada, to within 0.5%. For each sampled household, one eligible resident was asked to serve as a respondent in the study. Eligibility criteria for participation in the study included being 18 years of age or older, living on a regular basis in the sampled household, and being of the sex randomly predesignated for each household by the investigator. Households lacking an adult of the designated sex were invited to have any other adult living there serve as a respondent. Of 590 sampled households meeting the inclusion criteria, 345 questionnaires were returned from eligible respondents, representing a response rate of 58.5%. This

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final sample was found to be comparable on major social-demographic characteristics with a subsample similar in household types drawn from the 1989 Winnipeg Area Study. The Winnipeg Area Study is an annual in-home survey conducted on a systematic random sample of households in the city of Winnipeg. It has been shown consistently to be representative of the Winnipeg population when compared to Federal Census data ~Currie, 1989!. Based on the comparability of the study sample with the 1989 Winnipeg Area Study sample, it reasonably can be concluded that the study sample was representative of Winnipeg residents living in households other than apartments, nursing homes, or temporary settings. Moreover, a comparison of the demographic profile of the Winnipeg population in 1986 versus 2001 on such characteristics as sex, age, education, marital status, type of dwelling, household size, and home ownership showed it to be remarkably stable ~Statistics Canada, 1986, 2003!. Differences that were relatively small revealed that a greater proportion of the 2001 Winnipeg population completed a university degree ~17% in 2001 vs. 11% in 1986!, were married ~50% in 2001 vs. 46% in 1986!, and owned their home ~65% in 2001 vs. 61% in 1986! ~Statistics Canada, 1986, 2003!. Characteristics of the study sample are shown in Table 1. Measures Social-Demographic Characteristics. Measures of age, sex, marital status, employment status, education, income, length of neighborhood residency, and number of children in the household were adapted from social-demographic items in the Winnipeg Area Study ~Statistics Canada, 1986!. Neighborhood Characteristics. Each respondent was classified by the neighborhood in which his0her residence is located using the neighborhood scheme developed by the Department of Environmental Planning of the City of Winnipeg ~1978!. There are 248 neighborhoods in this classification scheme, determined by both physical conditions ~e.g., land use, condition of buildings! and population characteristics ~e.g., sex, age, family size, household income!. Previous research has shown these neighborhoods to be generally more socially homogeneous than census tracts ~Hamm, Currie, & Forde, 1988!. Neighborhood characteristics used in the present study ~for each of the neighborhoods! included: average income, average level of education, level of unemployment, average house size, percentage of children, age of dwelling ~classified as percentages in the categories of 1971 to 1980 or 1980 to 1986!, marital status ~percentage of persons married!, and mobility ~percentage of households moved within the neighborhood!. Sense of Community. Based on McMillan and Chavis’ ~1986! definition of sense of community, seven major beliefs about the neighborhood were identified as integral elements of the concept: 1. perceived physical boundaries, 2. safety in the neighborhood, 3. similarity in values to neighbors, 4. influence over neighbors, 5. availability of help from neighbors,


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Table 1. Sample Characteristics Frequency (%) (N 345)
45.0 55.0 16.1 42.1 22.1 14.5 5.2 8.1 18.7 40.7 12.1 20.5 13.4 71.1 4.0 6.3 5.2 87.1 12.9 12.8 31.5 19.6 22.9 9.8 3.3

Sex Male Female Age 18–29 30– 44 45– 59 60–74 Over 74 Educational Attainment Grade School or Less Some High School High-School Graduate Some post secondary Post-secondary degree Marital Status Single Married Common Law Separated or Divorced Widowed Home Ownership Own Rent Number of Persons in Household 1 2 3 4 5 6 or more

6. social acceptance from neighbors, and 7. shared history with neighbors. The presence of these beliefs was measured by asking respondents how much they agree or disagree with belief statements operationalizing them. Statements were written to operationalize each belief. For example, concerning safety of the neighborhood, respondents will be presented with the statement, “This neighborhood is a safe place to live in,” with possible responses ranging on a five-point continuum from “Strongly Disagree” ~1! to “Strongly Agree” ~5!. The final measure consisted of 14 items. The internal consistency ~a coefficient! of the measure for the present study was 0.72. Sense of Well-Being. The General Health Questionnaire ~GHQ!, a self-report instrument designed for identifying minor psychiatric morbidity in the general population ~Goldberg, 1978!, measured sense of well-being. For the purposes of this study, the 12-item

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version of the GHQ was used. Questions ask about current or recent difficulties, functioning levels, and0or well-being with respect to a number of areas ~e.g., sleep, decision making, feelings of happiness!. Individual items are scored from 1 to 4 depending on the frequency of the indicator. Again, individual items were used in model testing. The GHQ has been shown to correlate highly with more comprehensive psychiatric interviews. Its a coefficient has been reported as consistently high, ranging from 0.82 to 0.90 ~Goldberg, 1978!. The internal consistency ~a coefficient! in the present study was 0.78. Neighboring Behavior. A measure of past neighboring behavior was created for the study. Scales used in previous studies to measure neighboring activities were consulted in developing individual items ~Ahlbrandt, 1984; Riger & Lavrakas, 1981; Unger & Wandersman, 1982!. In line with the definition of neighboring proposed by Unger and Wandersman ~1985!, the 12 items in the measure involved activities that exchanged emotional, instrumental, or informational support with neighbors. Respondents were asked about the frequency that they engaged in these different activities with possible responses ranging from “Never” ~1! to “Very Often” ~4!. The internal consistency ~a coefficient! for the scale was 0.93.

Procedure Data was collected using mail survey procedures specified by the Total Design Method ~Dillman, 1978!. Each mailing packet consisted of a cover letter on university stationery, a questionnaire booklet, and a self-addressed stamped return envelope. Each questionnaire booklet was numbered and a list matching numbers with addresses was kept in order to track and follow up non-respondents. The initial mailing to sampled households was sent out on the same day. A postcard follow up was sent to all households one week after the initial mailing. A second mailing that included a replacement questionnaire was made to households who had not responded three weeks after the first mailing. Finally, a replacement questionnaire was sent by courier to those who still had not responded seven weeks after the initial mailing. Couriers either hand delivered the final mailing if someone was home or left it in the mailbox if no one was home.

RESULTS Data screening involved analysis of missing data and assessment of normality. The assumption of multivariate normality was evaluated through SPSS ~Statistical Package for the Social Sciences! and AMOS ~Analysis of Moments Structures! 4.01. The hypothesized model is presented in Figure 1. Circles and ellipses represent latent variables and rectangles represent observed variables ~indicators!. Each direct effect of a variable on another is represented by a single-headed arrow, and any covariance between pairs of exogenous variables are represented by curved doubleheaded arrows. According to this model, socio-economic status, family composition, and stability of neighborhoods influence both the neighboring behavior and sense of community among residents, thus increasing their sense of well-being.


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Model Estimation Using AMOS 4.01, the independence model that states that variables are uncorrelated between each other was rejected ~x 2 4076.41, df 435, p .001!. The plausibility of the proposed model ~shown in Figure 1! was assessed similarly. The analysis showed that this model is not supported by the available data ~Comparative Fit Index @CFI# .78, Tucher-Lewis Index @TLI# .77, Root Mean Square Error Approximation @RMSEA# .07!. In order to locate possible sources for misfit, modification indices were examined. A modification was applied only if a theoretical ground existed to explain it. Furthermore, direct effects that were nonsignificant were considered for removal. Again, this was done only on the basis of theoretical considerations. Modifications were performed one at a time. One modification index pointed to a covariance between the error terms of variables neigh10 and neigh12. These items are “invited a neighbor in your home” and “talked to a neighbor about personal issues”, which often are co-existing activities. Therefore, in addition to measuring neighboring behavior, these items seem to measure the propensity of an individual to develop personal relationships with neighbors. Similarly, another modification index revealed a covariance between the error terms of neigh6 and neigh10 that were items related to “going to a social event” and “inviting a neighbor in your home”, both relating to the propensity to engage in social activities with neighbors. Finally, the covariance between the error terms of neigh7 and neigh8, which were items related to “sharing information about home repairs and care” and “discussing neighborhood issues related to the propensity to share information related to the care and maintenance of the neighborhood” both related to the care of property, either personal or communal. All items in the neighboring behavior scale were used in the final model. One item in the sense of community scale, “there is a feeling in this neighborhood that people should not get too friendly with each other”, was removed due to its insignificant contribution to the construct. Seven items of the General Health Questionnaire ~related to coping, feeling happy, and decision making! were removed from the final model due to their insignificant contribution to the construct of well-being. The listing of items for each measure is shown in Table 2. The final model is shown in Figure 2. The overall difference between the observed and implied covariance matrices was still significant ~x 2 742.98, df 401, p .001!, but the overall fit was improved considerably with respect to the initial model ~CFI .91 TLI .90, RMSEA .05!. Basically, this model does not rule out the idea that the stability of a neighborhood ~mainly the marital status and mobility of residents! influ.01! and their sense ences both their neighboring behavior ~PNeighbeh,Stab 0.406, p of community ~PSencomm,Stab 0.184, p .01!, which in turn increases their sense of well-being ~PSenwell, Sencomm 0.114, p .01!. There was no direct effect of neighboring behavior on individuals’ sense of well-being. However, an indirect effect between these constructs via the sense of community was evidenced ~PSencomm,Neighbeh 0.263, p .01!. The family composition and socio-economic status do not have similar influences and were removed from the model. DISCUSSION The purpose of the present study was to test the relationship between neighborhood characteristics and personal well-being as mediated by sense of community and neighboring behavior. The present study examined the relationship between the characteristics

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Table 2. Listing of Items Used from Each Scale Item from Scale
Neighboring Behavior NBR1 NBR2 NBR3

Item Content

CR Value


Lent things to a neighbor, such as books, magazines, dishes, tools, recipes, or food Had a conversation with a neighbor when seeing them on the street Helped a neighbor by looking after their home while they were away and taking care of such things as watering plants, gathering mail, or feeding pets Told a neighbor about your dentist, family doctor, or other professional services you use Offered a ride to a neighbor when they needed it Gone with a neighbor on a social outing such as shopping, to a movie, concert, or other similar kind of event Shared information with a neighbor about such things as home repairs and lawn care Discussed neighborhood issues and problems with a neighbor Informed a neighbour about a neighborhood event Invited a neighbor to your home for coffee or similar kinds of socializing Assisted a neighbor with a household task such as a minor repair or moving furniture Talked with a neighbor about their personal issues such as family concerns, work problems, or health

14.20 12.02 1.00

12.91 12.69 12.61 12.04 11.57 12.56 13.62 12.05 11.48



Compared to other neighborhoods, I view my neighborhood as a safe place for the people living in it I like to think of myself as similar to the people who live in this neighborhood If I had an emergency, even people I do not know in this neighborhood would be willing to help If the people in my neighborhood were planning something, I’d think of it as something “we” were doing rather than “they” were doing I would be willing to work together with others on something to improve my neighborhood I think I agree with most people in my neighborhood about what is important in life If I needed advice about something, I could go to someone in my neighborhood I plan to remain a resident of this neighborhood for a number of years I think that “every man for himself is a good description of how people act in this neighborhood If there was a serious problem in this neighborhood, the people here could get together and solve it

1.00 8.44 8.24 7.84

6.17 7.31 8.44 7.71 7.05 8.04

Sense of Well-being GHQ7 GHQ8 GHQ9 GHQ10

Felt you couldn’t overcome your difficulties Lost much sleep over worry Been feeling unhappy and depressed Been losing confidence in yourself

9.55 7.99 9.19 1.00


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Figure 2. Modified model.

of different neighborhood areas ~with set physical boundaries and relatively homogeneous populations! with personal well-being. Using the neighborhood, rather than the town or city ~which is expected to contain heterogeneous neighborhoods!, as the unit of analysis allowed for a more fine-grained investigation involving smaller clusters of residential units than have been examined in previous research. Relationships in the Final Model The final model demonstrates the role of sense of community in mediating the relationship between the stability of the neighborhood ~as defined by the marital status and mobility! and the frequency of neighboring behavior with the residents’ well-being. Contrary to the hypothesized model, the frequency of engaging in neighboring behavior was not predictive of residents’ sense of personal well-being. Instead, the frequency of neighboring behavior was predictive of increased sense of

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community, consistent with previous findings that neighborhood relations predicted individuals’ sense of community, which often is conceptualized as community involvement and feelings of attachment to the community ~Ahlbrandt, 1984; MacMillan & Chavis, 1986, Prezza et al., 2001!. Only the proportion of married couples and the mobility of residents within the neighborhood were significant predictors of both neighboring behavior and sense of community. In particular, a greater proportion of married couples and lower levels of mobility are related to more neighboring and a greater sense of community. Intuitively, longer-term residents of a neighborhood will experience a greater sense of community and engage in more neighboring behavior due to longer-term relationships with their neighbors. In addition, being married may make some couples more permanently anchored in their neighborhood, thereby decreasing their mobility and increasing their exposure to others, thus, increasing their neighboring behavior and sense of community. Further, a spouse’s involvement with neighbors also may contribute to the other spouse’s sense of community with increased exposure to others and increased coverage of the neighborhood. This finding, which involves a neighborhood-level characteristic ~neighborhood stability!, is consistent with previous research examining the individual-level characteristics of residents and their relationship to sense of community. Specifically, Glynn ~1981! reported that the number of years married and number of years in the community of residents were predictive of sense of community. Moreover, Prezza et al. ~2001! found that sense of community in residents was predicted by the frequency of their neighboring relations, number of years of residence, and being married. The present finding suggests that it is the “rootedness” or stability within the neighborhood that influences individuals’ propensity towards engaging in neighboring behavior and influences their sense of community within their neighborhood. Our study joins other studies in showing that the transience of residents when it does occur on a regular basis in a neighborhood serves to undermine contact between neighbors and the development of a sense of community. In his influential book, Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community, Roger Putnam examined the loss of “social capital” in the United States over the last several decades. Putnam ~2000! noted the decline of informal social connections including less contact between neighbors over the last 25 years as evidence of this alarming trend. In explaining this development, Putnam cited a number of factors including the ascendance of two-career families, suburbanization, and television as a source of entertainment, as well as generational changes regarding the value of civic involvement. Interestingly, Putnam dismissed mobility of the population as a contributor to this loss of social capital, citing population-level statistics that show no change in the mobility of the American population over the past five decades. Our findings suggest that the mobility of residents when it does occur in large enough numbers in neighborhoods contributes to the loss of “community” there. The prediction of well-being by sense of community is consistent with past research that found that feelings of membership need fulfillment and shared emotional connection contributed to personal coping and overall health ~including subjective well-being! of community members ~Bachrach & Zatura, 1985; Davidson & Cotter, 1991; Riger & Lavrakas, 1981!. The mediation of well-being and neighborhood characteristics by sense of community also is consistent with past findings, suggesting that the stability of the neighborhood promotes positive relations between neighbors


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while increasing their sense of community and promoting their personal well-being ~Hughley, Speer, & Peterson, 1999!. Therefore, it is the psychological response rather than behavioral reactions to neighbors that directly influence residents’ well-being. The extent of neighboring among neighbors does contribute to sense of community. Our findings provide further evidence of the importance of having a sense of community even when it is defined from the standpoint of neighbors and the neighborhood. Finding ways of increasing the sense of community of residents in neighborhoods remains an elusive goal. Consistent with previous research, our results are indicative of the importance of facilitating contact between neighbors as one way of helping to achieve this goal. At the neighborhood level, our findings suggest that city planners need to find ways of increasing the stability of population in neighborhoods. They also need to find ways to facilitate increased opportunities for neighbors to interact with each other, thus increasing their sense of community. Consistent with previous research, fostering sense of community may include adaptation to physical features of neighborhoods such as proximity of homes and location of recreational facilities ~Appleyard & Lintell, 1972; Caplow & Forman, 1950; Schacter & Back, 1950!. In addition, developing neighborhoods that have mixed housing from the standpoint of owned versus rented and a heterogeneous population in terms of age and marital status should be considered. Furthermore, it would make sense for planners to work towards making neighborhoods as attractive as possible for residents to remain living in them. CONCLUSIONS AND DIRECTIONS FOR FUTURE RESEARCH One of the contributions of this study was to understand the relationship between neighborhood characteristics, neighboring behavior, sense of community, and residents’ well-being. It further demonstrated that neighborhood characteristics are important both to influence the sense of community and the neighboring behavior of residents. This study also addressed limitations of prior research that used larger units of analysis ~i.e., towns and cities! by using individual neighborhoods as the units of analysis. Although the study was conducted in 1989, the stability of the demographic characteristics of the population suggests that the reported findings are likely to be replicated in the contemporary situation. A limitation of the study is that it focused on residents living in non-apartment dwellings. Given the lessened contact between neighbors and lower sense of community that can be expected in apartment dwellings, it is possible that the inclusion of these individuals may have produced different findings. However, the presence of apartments in neighborhoods can be expected to influence negatively the neighboring behavior and sense of community experienced by individuals in non-apartments. Consequently, their presence in the neighborhoods examined in our study are likely to contribute to finding of neighborhood-level characteristics being associated with neighboring and sense of community. Another potential limitation of the study may be that even neighborhoods may still be too large a geographical unit in which to examine sense of community and neighboring behavior. Perhaps characteristics of individual buildings or streets may need to be examined to decrease the potential heterogeneity in each unit of

Neighborhood and Neighbors


analysis. Furthermore, neighborhood characteristics in this study were limited to demographic characteristics. Broader characteristics such as rate of crime, availability of common space ~e.g., parks and community centers!, and quality of neighborhood maintenance may have important influence on frequency of neighboring behaviors and residents’ sense of community and should be examined. In addition, Hill ~1996! suggested studying neighborhoods in a longitudinal manner; therefore future directions for research include repeated analysis of neighborhood characteristics and the impact of their change on residents’ neighboring, sense of community, and well-being. REFERENCES
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Journal of Community Psychology, January 2004

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Neighborhood and Neighbors


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