Perceived neighborhood characteristics predict severity and emotional response to daily stressors

Stacey B. Scott, Elizabeth Munoz, Jacqueline A. Mogle, Alyssa A. Gamaldo, Joshua M. Smyth, David M. Almeida, Martin J. Sliwinski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Rationale: Neighborhood characteristics may influence health and well-being outcomes through stressors in daily life. Objectives: This study tested whether a varied set of perceived characteristics of neighborhood (i.e., social cohesion, safety, aesthetic quality, violence) predicted stressor frequency and severity as well as negative emotional responses to stressors. We predicted greater reported cohesion and safety and less violence would be associated with less frequent stressor exposure and severity and less intense negative affect following stressors; we conducted subsequent tests of neighborhood aesthetic quality as a predictor. Methods: Participants (n = 233, age 25–65 years) were residents in a socio-economically, racially, and ethnically diverse zip code in Bronx, New York, most who participated in the Effects of Stress on Cognitive Aging, Physiology and Emotion study between 2012 and 2013. They provided demographic information and neighborhood ratings, then participated in the EMA protocol in which they completed brief smartphone surveys of current negative affect and stressor exposure, severity, and recency, five times daily for 14 days. Results: No coded neighborhood characteristic was related to the frequency of stressors. Individuals who reported greater neighborhood violence, however, rated their stressors as more severe. Individuals rating their neighborhood lower in safety or aesthetic quality, or higher in violence, had greater negative affect following stressors. Conclusion: Even among people living within the same zip code, individual differences in perceptions of neighborhood predict how stressful they appraised stressors in daily life to be and how much negative affect they reported following stressors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)262-270
Number of pages9
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
StatePublished - Mar 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health(social science)
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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