The impact of plants offering cover on female students’ perception of danger in urban green spaces in crime hot spots




fear, safety, environmental preference, prospect-refuge, concealment


Urban parks and forests are important for wellbeing, but feelings of unsafety limited their usage. Removal of vegetation from hotspots of fear is sometimes recommended as a means of boosting safety. However such actions should be approached with caution. One explanation, based on prospect-refuge theory, is that plants increase perceptions of danger because of their contribution to a setting’s effectiveness in concealing criminals. It is also believed that people do not like urban green spaces parks containing trees and shrubs that can act as hiding places because of the sense of danger that this vegetation evokes. To test this explanation, participants rated 57 photos of urban parks and forest parks settings park settings on perceived danger, effectiveness of concealment, and landscape preference. In addition, the effectiveness of concealment in the photos was measured assuming that the value of this variable is expressed by the percentage of the pixels occupied by trees and shrubs offering concealment in a photograph. Results confirmed that concealment and danger are highly correlated mediation analysis confirmed that the impact of concealment on preferences can be explained by perceived danger. When the danger was controlled, the efficiency of concealment had no influence on preferences.


Altman, I. 1975. The Environment and Social Behavior. Brooks/Cole Pub. Co.

Andrews, M., Gatersleben, B. 2010. Variations in perceptions of danger, fear and preference in a simulated, natural environment. Journal of Environmental Psychology 30, 473–481. DOI:10.1016/j.jenvp.2010.04.001 DOI:

Appleton, J. 1975. The experience of landscape. John Wiley & Sons, London.

Appleton, J. 1984. Prospect and refuge re-visited. Landscape Journal 3, 91–103. DOI:10.3368/lj.3.2.91 DOI:

Ayala-Azcárrag, C., Diaz, D., Zambrano, L. 2019. Characteristics of urban parks and their relation to user well-being. Landscape & Urban Planning, 189, 27–35. DOI:10.1016/j.landurbplan.2019.04.005 DOI:

Balling, J.D., Falk, J.H. 1982. Development of preference for natural environments. Environment & Behavior 14, 5–28. DOI:10.1177/0013916582141001 DOI:

Baran, P.K., Tabrizian, P., Zhai, Y., Smith, J.W., Floyd, M.F. 2018. An exploratory study of perceived safety in a neighborhood park using immersive virtual environments. Urban Forestry & Urban Greening 35, 72–81. DOI:10.1016/j.ufug.2018.08.009 DOI:

Baron, R.M., Kenny, D.A. 1986. The moderator–mediator variable distinction in social psychological research: Conceptual, strategic, and statistical considerations. Journal of Personality & Social Psychology 51, 1173–1182. DOI:10.1037/0022-3514.51.6.1173 DOI:

Berto, R. 2005. Exposure to restorative environments helps restore attentional capacity. Journal of Environmental Psychology 25(3), 249–259. DOI:10.1016/j.jenvp.2005.07.001 DOI:

Blanco, J., Dendoncker, N., Barnaud, C., Sirami, C. 2019. Ecosystem disservices matter: Towards their systematic integration within ecosystem service research and policy. Ecosystem Services 36, 100913. DOI:10.1016/j.ecoser.2019.100913 DOI:

Blöbaum, A., Hunecke, M. 2005. Perceived danger in urban public space: The impacts of physical features and personal factors. Environment & Behavior 37, 465–485. DOI:10.1177/0013916504269643 DOI:

Bogar, S., Beyer, K.M. 2016. Green space, violence, and crime: A systematic review. Trauma, Violence and Abuse 17, 160–171. DOI:10.1177/1524838015576412 DOI:

Bringslimark, T., Hartig, T., Patila, G.G. 2009. The psychological benefits of indoor plants: A critical review of the experimental literature. Journal of Environmental Psychology 29, 422–433. DOI:10.1016/j.jenvp.2009.05.001 DOI:

Campagnaro, T., Vecchiato, D., Arnberger, A., Celegato, R., De Re, R., Rizzetto, R., Sementazo, P., Tempesta, T., Cattaneo, D. 2020. General, stress relief and perceived safety preferences for green spaces in the historic city of Padua (Italy). Urban Forestry & Urban Greening 52, 126695. DOI:10.1016/j.ufug.2020.126695 DOI:

Chang, D.H.F., Jiang, B., Wong, N., H.L., Wong, Jing. J., Webster, C., Lee, T., M.C. 2021. The human posterior cingulate and the stress-response benefits of viewing green urban landscapes. NeuroImage 226, 117555. DOI:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2020.117555 DOI:

Constanza, R., de Groot, R., Braat, L., Kubiszewski, I., Fioramonti, L., Sutton, P., Farber, S., Grasso, M. 2017. Twenty years of ecosystem services: How far have we come and how far do we still need to go? Ecosystem Services 28, Part A, 1–16.DOI:10.1016/j.ecoser.2017.09.008 DOI:

Donovan, G.H., Prestemon, J.P. 2012. The effect of trees on crime in Portland, Oregon. Environment & Behavior 44, 3–30. DOI:10.1177/0013916510383238 DOI:

Evensen, K.H., Hemsett, G., Nordh, H. 2021. Developing a place-sensitive tool for park-safety management experiences from green-space managers and female park users in Oslo. Urban Forestry & Urban Greening 60, 127057. DOI:10.1016/j.ufug.2021.127057 DOI:

Fisher, B., Nasar, J.L. 1992. Fear of crime in relation to three exterior site features: Prospect, refuge, and escape. Environment & Behavior 24, 35–65. DOI:10.1177/0013916592241002 DOI:

Fisher, J.C., Irvine, K.N., Bicknell, J.E., Hayes, W.M., Fernandes, D., Mistry, J., Davies, Z.G. 2021. Perceived biodiversity, sound, naturalness and safety enhance the restorative quality and wellbeing benefits of green and blue space in a neotropical city. Science of the Total Environment 755, Part 2, 143095. DOI:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.143095 DOI:

Fuller, R., Irvine, K., Devine-Wright, P., Warren, P., Gaston, K. 2007. Psychological benefits of greenspace increase with biodiversity. Biology Letters 3, 390–394. DOI:10.1098/rsbl.2007.0149 DOI:

Gramkow, M.C., Sidenius, U., Zhang, G., Stigsdotter, U.K. 2021. From Evidence to Design Solution—On How to Handle Evidence in the Design Process of Sustainable, Accessible and Health-Promoting Landscapes. Sustainability 13(6), 3249. DOI:10.3390/su13063249 DOI:

Haans, A., de Kort, Y.A.W. 2012. Light distribution in dynamic street lighting: Two experimental studies on its effects on perceived safety, prospect, concealment, and escape. Journal of Environmental Psychology 32, 342–352. DOI:10.1016/j.jenvp.2012.05.006 DOI:

Hami, A., Maulan, S., Mariapan, M., Muhammad, M. 2014. The relationship between landscape planting patterns and perceived safety in urban parks in Tabriz. Iran African Journal of Environmental Science and Technology 8, 107–113. DOI:10.5897/AJEST2013.1486 DOI:

Harris, V., Kendal, D., Hahs, A.K., Threlfall, C.G. 2018. Green space context and vegetation complexity shape people’s preferences for urban public parks and residential gardens. Landscape Research 43, 150–162. DOI:10.1080/01426397.2017.1302571 DOI:

Hartig, T., Mitchell, R., de Vries, S., Frumkin, H. 2014. Nature and health. Annual Review of Public Health 35, 207–228. DOI:10.1146/annurev-publhealth-032013-182443 DOI:

Hayes, A.F. 2009. Beyond Baron and Kenny: Statistical Mediation Analysis in the New Millennium. Communication Monographs, 76(4), 408–420. DOI:10.1080/03637750903310360 DOI:

Hayes, A.F. 2013. Introduction to mediation, moderation, and conditional process analysis. Guilford Press, New York.

Hedblom, M., Gunnarsson, B., Iravani, B., Knez, I., Schaefer, M., Thorsson, P., Lundström, J., N. 2019. Reduction of physiological stress by urban green space in a multisensory virtual experiment. Sci Rep, 9, 10113. DOI:10.1038/s41598-019-46099-7 DOI:

Herzog, T.R. 1989. A cognitive analysis of preference for urban nature. Journal of Environmental Psychology 9, 27–42. DOI:10.1016/S0272-4944(89)80024-6 DOI:

Herzog, T.R., Chernick, K.K. 2000. Tranquility and danger in urban and natural environments. Journal of Environmental Psychology 20, 29–39. DOI:10.1006/jevp.1999.0151 DOI:

Herzog, T.R., Flynn-Smith, J.A. 2001. Preference and perceived danger as a function of the perceived curvature, length and width of urban alleys. Environment & Behavior 33, 655–668. DOI:10.1177/00139160121973179 DOI:

Herzog, T.R., Herbert, E.J., Kaplan, R., Crooks, C.L. 2000. Cultural and Developmental Comparisons of Landscape Perceptions and Preferences. Environment & Behavior 32, 323–346. DOI:10.1177/0013916500323002 DOI:

Herzog, T.R., Kutzli, G.E. 2002. Preference and perceived danger in field/forest settings. Environment & Behavior 34, 858–874. DOI:10.1177/00139160121973179 DOI:

Hoyle, H., Hitchmough, J.D., Jorgensen, A. 2017. All about the ‘wow factor’? The relationships between aesthetics, restorative effect and perceived biodiversity in designed urban planting. Landscape & Urban Planning 164, 109–123. DOI:10.1016/j.landurbplan.2017.03.011 DOI:

Jansson, M., Fors, H., Lindgren, T., Wiström, B. 2013. Perceived personal safety in relation to urban woodland vegetation: A review. Urban Forestry & Urban Greening 12, 127–133. DOI:10.1016/j.ufug.2013.01.005 DOI:

Jarvis, I., Gerger, S.E., van den Bosch, M. 2020. Different types of urban natural environments influence various dimensions of self-reported health. Environmental Research 186, 109614. DOI:10.1016/j.envres.2020.109614 DOI:

Jiang, B., Larsen, L., Deal, B., Sullivan, W.C. 2015. A dose-response curve describing the relationship between tree cover density and landscape preference. Landscape &Urban Planning 139, 16-25. DOI:10.1016/j.landurbplan.2015.02.018 DOI:

Jiang, B., Mak, C.N.S., Larsen, L., Zhong, H. 2017. Minimizing the gender difference in perceived safety: Comparing the effects of urban back alley interventions. Journal of Environmental Psychology 51, 117–131. DOI:10.1016/j.jenvp.2017.03.012 DOI:

Jorgensen, A., 2004. The social and cultural context of ecological plantings. In: Dunnett, N., Hitchmough, J. (eds.), The Dynamic Landscape: Design, Ecology and Management of Naturalistic Urban Planting, London, F&FN Spon. pp. 293–325.

Jorgensen, A., Hitchmough, J., Calvert, T. 2002. Woodland spaces and edges: Their impact on perception of safety and preference. Landscape & Urban Planning 60, 135–150. DOI:10.1016/S0169-2046(02)00052-X DOI:

Jorgensen, A., Hitchmough, J.D., Dunnet, N.P. 2007. Woodland as a setting for housing appreciation and fear and the contribution to residential satisfaction and place identity in Warrington new town, UK. Landscape & Urban Planning 79, 273-287. DOI:10.1016/j.landurbplan.2006.02.015 DOI:

Kaplan, R. 1973. Some Psychological Benefits of Gardening. Environment & Behavior 5, 145–162. DOI:10.1177/001391657300500202 DOI:

Kaplan, R., Kaplan, S. 1989. The experience of nature. New York, Cambridge University Press.

Koo, T.K., Li, M.Y. 2016. A Guideline of Selecting and Reporting Intraclass Correlation Coefficients for Reliability Research. Journal of Chiropractic Medicine, 15(2), 155–163. DOI:10.1016/j.jcm.2016.02.012 DOI:

Koskela, H., Pain, R. 2000. Revisiting fear and place: Women’s fear of attack and the built environment. Geoforum 31, 269–280. DOI:10.1016/S0016-7185(99)00033-0 DOI:

Kuo, F.E., Sullivan, W.C. 2001. Environment and crime in the inner city. Environment &Behavior 33, 343–367. DOI:10.1177/0013916501333002 DOI:

Kuo, F.E., Sullivan, W.C., Coley, R.L., Brunson, L. 1998. Fertile ground for community: Inner city neighborhood common spaces. American Journal of Community Psychology 26, 823–851. DOI:10.1023/A:1022294028903 DOI:

Kurz, T., Baudains, C. 2012. Biodiversity in the Front Yard: An Investigation of Landscape Preference in a Domestic Urban Context. Environment & Behavior 44, 166–196. DOI:10.1177/0013916510385542 DOI:

Laumann, K., Garling, T., Stormark, K.M. 2001. Rating scale measures of restorative components of environments. Journal of Environmental Psychology 21, 31–44.DOI:10.1006/jevp.2000.01 DOI:

Lis, A., Iwankowski, P. 2021a. Where do we want to see other people while relaxing in a city park? Visual relationships with park users and their impact on preferences, safety and privacy. Journal of Environmental Psychology 73, 101532. DOI:10.1016/j.jenvp.2020.101532 DOI:

Lis, A., Iwankowski, P. 2021b. Why is dense vegetation in city parks unpopular? The mediative role of sense of privacy and safety. Urban Forestry and Urban Greening, 126988. DOI:10.1016/j.ufug.2021.126988 DOI:

Lis, A., Pardela, Ł., Can, W., Katlapa, A., Rąbalski, Ł. (2019a). Perceived Danger and Landscape Preferences of Walking Paths with Trees and Shrubs by Women. Sustainability 11(17), 4565. DOI:10.3390/su11174565 DOI:

Lis, A., Pardela, Ł., Iwankowski, P. 2019b. Impact of vegetation on perceived safety and preference in city parks. Sustainability 11(22), 6324. DOI:10.3390/su11226324 DOI:

Lis, A., Weber-Siwirska, M., Ziemiańska, M. (2016a). Method of assessment and verification of plant selection in space safety aspect. Space & Form 26, 213–228. DOI:10.21005/pif.2016.26.D-05 DOI:

Lis, A., Weber-Siwirska, M., Ziemiańska, M. 2016b. The role of dendroflora in preventing crime in public green space.: T. CXCVII. Wrocław University of Environmental and Life Sciences Publishing.

Lis, A., Zalewska, K., Iwankowski, P. 2019c. Why do we choose fear-evoking spots in parks? The role of danger and privacy in the model of dependence between spatial attributes and preference. Urban Forestry & Urban Greening 38, 193–204. DOI:10.1016/j.ufug.2018.12.012 DOI:

Loewen, L.J., Steel, D.G., Suedfeld, P. 1993. Perceived safety from crime in the urban environment. Journal of Environmental Psychology 13, 323–331. DOI:10.1016/S0272-4944(05)80254-3 DOI:

Lyytimäki, J. 2019. Ecosystem disservices: Embrace the catchword. Ecosystem Services 12, 136. DOI:10.1016/j.ecoser.2014.11.008 DOI:

Maas, Spreeuwenberg, P., van Winsum-Westra, M., Verheij, R.A., de Vries, S., Groenewegen, P.P. 2009. Is green space in the living environment associated with people’s feelings of social safety? Environment & Planning A 41, 1763–1777. DOI:10.1068/a4196 DOI:

Magde, C. 1997. Public parks and the geography of fear. Tijdschrift voor Economische en Sociale Geografie 88, 237–250. DOI:10.1111/j.1467-9663.1997.tb01601.x DOI:

Maruthaveeran, S., Konijnendijk van den Bosch, C.C. 2013. A socio-ecological exploration of fear of crime in urban green spaces: A systematic review. Urban Forestry & Urban Greening 13, 1–18. DOI:10.1016/j.ufug.2013.11.006 DOI:

Michael, S.E., Hull, R.B. 1994. Effects of vegetation on crime in urban parks. Arborist News, 1pp.

Michael, S.E., Hull, R.B., Zahm, D.L. 2001. Environmental factors influencing auto burglary: A case study. Environment & Behavior 33, 368–388. DOI:10.1177/00139160121973034 DOI:

Nasar, J.L., Fisher, B., Grannis, M. 1993. Proximate physical cues to fear of crime. Landscape & Urban Planning 26, 161–178. DOI:10.1016/0169-2046(93)90014-5 DOI:

Nasar, J.L., Jones, K. 1997. Landscapes of fear and stress. Environment & Behavior 29, 291–323. DOI:10.1177/001391659702900301 DOI:

Qiu, L., Chen, Q., Gao, T. 2021. The Effects of Urban Natural Environments on Preference and Self-Reported Psychological Restoration of the Elderly. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 18(2), 509. DOI:10.3390/ijerph18020509 DOI:

Rišová, K., Madajová, S.M. 2020. Gender differences in a walking environment safety perception: A case study in a small town of Banská Bystrica (Slovakia). Journal of Transport Geography 85, 102723. DOI:10.1016/j.jtrangeo.2020.102723 DOI:

Rouquette, R.J., Holt, A.R. 2017. The benefits to people of trees outside woods (TOWs). Report for the Woodland Trust. Natural Capital Solutions. [Accessed 6 March 2021]

Scopelliti, M., Carrus, G., Bonaiuto, M. 2018. Is it Really Nature That Restores People? A Comparison With Historical Sites With High Restorative Potential. Front Psychol. 9, 2742. DOI:10.3389/fpsyg.2018.02742 DOI:

Sheather, S. 2009. A modern approach to regression with R. Springer, New York. DOI:

Stamps, A.E. 1999. Demographic effects in environmental aesthetics: A meta-analysis. Journal of Planning Literature 14, 155–175. DOI:

Stier-Jarmer, M., Throner, V., Kirschneck, M., Immich, G., Frisch, D. 2021. The Psychological and Physical Effects of Forests on Human Health: A Systematic Review of Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 18(4), 1770. DOI:10.3390/ijerph18041770 DOI:

Talbot, J.F., Kaplan, R. 1984. Needs and fears: The response to trees and nature in the inner city. Journal of Arboriculture 10, 222–228.

Taylor, D.E. 2019. College Students and Nature: Differing Thoughts of Fear, Danger, Disconnection, and Loathing. Environmental Management 64, 79-96. DOI:10.1007/s00267-019-01172-9 DOI:

Ulrich, R.S. 1983. Aesthetic and affective response to natural environment. In: Altman I., Wohlwill J.F. (eds.), Behavior and the Natural Environment. Human Behavior and Environment (Advances in Theory and Research), vol 6. Springer, Boston, MA. DOI:10.1007/978-1-4613-3539-9_4 DOI:

Ulrich, R.S. 1984. View through a window may influence recovery from surgery. Science 224, 420–421. DOI:10.1126/science.6143402 DOI:

Ulrich, R.S. 1986. Human responses to vegetation and landscapes. Landscape & Urban Planning 13, 29–44. DOI:10.1016/0169-2046(86)90005-8 DOI:

van Rijswijk, L., Haans, A. 2018. Illuminating for safety: Investigating the role of lighting appraisals on the perception of safety in the urban environment. Environment & Behavior 50, 889–912. DOI:10.1177/0013916517718888 DOI:

van Rijswijk, L., Rooks, G., Haans, A. 2016. Safety in the eye of the beholder: Individual susceptibility to safety-related characteristics of nocturnal urban scenes. Journal of Environmental Psychology 45, 103–115. DOI:10.1016/j.jenvp.2015.11.006 DOI:

White, E.V., Gatersleben, B. 2011. Greenery on residential buildings: Does it affect preferences and perceptions of beauty. Journal of Environmental Psychology 31, 89–98. DOI:10.1016/j.jenvp.2010.11.002 DOI:

Wilson, E.O. 1984. Biophilia. Harvard University Press. DOI:

Wolfe, M.K., Mennis, J. 2012. Does vegetation encourage or suppress urban crime? Evidence from Philadelphia, PA. Landscape & Urban Planning 108, 112-122. DOI:10.1016/j.landurbplan.2012.08.006 DOI:

Wu, S., Huang, J., Li, S. 2020. Classifying ecosystem disservices and comparing their effects with ecosystem services in Beijing, China PREPRINT .DOI:org/preprint arXiv:2001.01605 DOI:





How to Cite

Lis, A., Pardela, Łukasz ., Iwankowski, P., & Haans, A. . (2021). The impact of plants offering cover on female students’ perception of danger in urban green spaces in crime hot spots. Landscape Online, 91.



Research Article