Are trees and shrubs unsafe hiding places? Impact of plant forms on the perception of danger in urban green spaces in crime hot spots
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.
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