Introduction of self. This can be explained in




attachment is described as the “emotional bond between person and place”
(Low and Altman, 1992). It is
an essential concept in the study of Environmental Psychology. Place attachment
is multi-dimensional and cannot be explained simply through a cause and effect
relationship. Instead, it depends on a reciprocal relationship between
behavior, a series of experiences, and many other factors, as will be discussed
in the Tripartite Model.

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Two of the main concepts within place attachment are: place
identity and place dependence.


Place identity or place-based identity refers to a cluster of
ideas about place and identity in the fields of geography, urban planning,
urban design, landscape architecture, environmental psychology, ecocriticism and
urban sociology/ecological sociology. Place identity is sometimes called urban
character, neighborhood character or local character. It concerns the meaning
and significance of places for their inhabitants and users, and how these
meanings contribute to individuals’ conceptualizations of self. This can be
explained in the context of a student. The university or school that students
attend give them an identity. They can refer to themselves as the members of
that institution and will be considered its alumni. Since it gives them this
trait that they can link themselves to, they form an attachment to that


Attachment or Place dependence refers to the phenomenon that occurs when a
place provides the resources or opportunities necessary for a person to carry
out their desired actions. It is concerned with the presence or absence of
means for the basic needs of individuals. It re?ects the importance of a
resource in providing amenities necessary for desired activities. It can be
described as a relationship to the resource, or place attachment, that represents
a concept of valuing a recreation setting that encompasses both functional and
emotional/symbolic meanings and attachments (Schreyer et al. 1981). For
example, people working and living in countries that are not their home
countries form an attachment to their residence because it gives them the
opportunity of better work and living conditions.




History of Place Attachment Research


Over the years many environmental psychologists, sociologists
and urban planners and developers have expanded their research into the field
of place attachment. The following is an overview of some of the advances and
discoveries made in this field over the years.

Giuliani and Feldman (1993) identified 11 different
de?nitions of place attachment in a single review collection of articles. One
of those definitions was later expanded the experience of a long-term affective
bond to a particular geographic area and the meaning attributed to that bond by
Hay (1998).

Proshansky, Fabian, and Kaminoff (1983) coined the term place
identity to signify the importance of the physical environment in shaping the
human sense of self. Early studies tended to conceive of place attachment as
static. More recently a dynamic view has emerged, so that while place
attachment is understood as enduring, it is also seen as changing over time.

Cobb, 1977; Cooper,1992; Hester ‘Donnell, 1987; Pearce,
1977 observed that for many individuals, childhood place experience plays an important
role in adult identity, investigating place attachment over the entire human
life span found that feelings of connection or belonging to place increased as
people aged, and that place attachments formed in childhood were stronger than
those formed later in life. This ?nding re?ects a widespread agreement in the
literature that the foundations of place attachment are laid down in middle childhood
(Sobel, 1990).

On the other hand, enquiries into children’s attitude towards
place describe an unselfconscious, taken-for-granted approach to place, where
the physical environment is valued for what you can do in it, rather than in
and of itself or for social meanings (Hart, 1979; Hay, 1998; Moore, 1986).

Descriptive studies have identi?ed common themes of
children’s engagement with place. These include: children’s preference for
natural over man-made environments (Jones & Cunningham, 1999); children’s sensuous
engagement with place (Cobb, 1977; Sebba, 1991); exploration and place-play as
inherently pleasurable, self-directed learning activities (Sebba, 1991); and
children’s use of place for emotional regulation (Dovey, 1990; Kirkby, 1989;
Korpela, 1981).

Qualitative studies of adults’ retrospective accounts of
child-hood places note the important meaning that memories of child-hood places
take on later in life. The memories of those places can evoke powerful feelings
and exert great in?uence over adult identity (Cooper, 1992; Porteous, 1990;
Rubenstein & Parmelee,1992).




The Tripartite Model

Due to numerous varying opinions on the definition and
components of place attachment, organizational models have been scarce until
recent years. A noteworthy conceptual framework is the Tripartite Model,
developed by Scannell and Gifford (2010).

This framework of place attachment
utilizes the varied definitions and developments mentioned previously. It explains
place attachment as a three dimensional model composed of the person,
psychological process, and place dimensions.


This refers
to “Who is attached?” This dimension can pertain to individuals as well as
groups or communities. The overall effect of place attachment can vary based on
the “who”.

At an
individual level it focuses on the connections that a person makes with a
place. It can be personal experiences, life milestones, and occurrences on
personal growth. The place attachment is stronger for settings that evoke
personal memories and so contributes to a stable sense of self. For example the
driveway where one learns how to ride a bike for the first time will hold a
special attachment to the person since it evokes memories of a personal

At the group
level, attachment is comprised of the symbolic meanings of a place that are
shared among members. It can be a community process where groups form an
attachment to places that are symbols of their cultures, religions, historical
experiences, values and symbols. For example Minar-e-Pakistan is a place that
Pakistanis feel an attachment to as it is an embodiment of their history.




dimension is concerned with the way that individuals and groups relate to a
place based on the nature of the psychological interactions that occur in the
environments. This dimension is further divided into three parameters: affect,
cognition and behavior.


Affect: the emotions that a place incurs in
a person concludes whether an attachment will be formed or not. As a given,
mostly positive emotions help in forming attachments. If a place sustains
emotions such as happiness or love, people form an attachment. This can be
observed by children’s attachments to parks and the general draw of tourists
towards places such as beaches.


Cognition: it incorporates the knowledge,
memories, and meanings that individuals or groups have associated with places
of attachment. Specifically, these cognitive elements represent what makes
specific places important enough for people-place bonding to develop. Environmental
psychologists additionally use the term schema to describe how people organize
their beliefs and knowledge in regards to places and has led some researchers
to note familiarity as a central cognitive element in place attachment. This
idea of familiarity has been used in explaining why people mark themselves as
“city people” or why they develop preferences for certain types of homes.
Researchers have coined a number of terms based on familiarity, including
“settlement identity” and “generic place dependence.”


Behavior: this is the physical manifestation
of place attachment. It can be a result or signify the cognitive and affective
elements in forming the attachment. The most common form of this dimension is
proximity maintaining behaviors. Students living in hostels feel a longing for
their homes and may feel “home-sick”. Many people make efforts to work and live
in the same neighborhoods that they have grown up in. an example of this
behavior can be seen in communities that have been affected by natural
disasters or war. They strive to rebuild the place as it was before, also known
as reconstruction of place.





dimension addresses the question of “What is attached?” this covers the most
important aspect of the process and can be studied under two aspects: social
and physical.


Social: the social aspect of a place
includes the sense of belongingness a person feels due to familiarity and a
degree of association with the members of a society. This can be established in
the form of common religions, customs and cultures. People of different
religions can be seen living in communities that are separate from one another
as they have formed a social bond with those people that they do not have with
the others. People moving to different countries find it difficult to adjust as
they do not have the same social bonds due to difference in language, customs


Physical: the resources and tangible aspects
of a place describe the attachment a person or community will form with it.
This can be understood better under the concept of place dependence discussed
earlier. An environment that is less stressful or demanding, a place that
offers better living conditions for example abundance of advantageous jobs will
increase the chances of attachment.


Advantages and Uses of Place
Attachment Theory


and community level:


1)      Survival and

attachment serves a positive cognitive affect at times of threat by providing a
perception of reduced risk as one displays proximity-maintaining behaviors. The
theory of attachment suggests that a person can only achieve if threat is removed
(the security-exploration cycle).

In this
case, the place is serving as a safe haven, allowing for the person to feel
secure and thus go on to thrive. It can also help vulnerable people like
immigrants form new attachments to places based on the various dimensions and
adapt to their new circumstances, move on.




2)      Goal Support and

also become attached to places that support the pursuit of their goals. This
perspective suggests that the positive affective content of the bond results
from successful goal pursuit, the cognitions consist of expectations of goal
attainment based on past experiences, the behavior expressed is repeated place
use, and the place focus is social or physical, depending on the particular
goals sought. This can lead to place dependence, a type of attachment in which
individuals value a place for the specific activities that it supports or

is the process in which current behavior is compared to one’s greater goals and
standards in order to evaluate progress towards the goal. Place Attachment
serves self-regulation because favorite places have restorative qualities. A
favorite place is a safe haven, where individuals can plan for the
implementation of their goals, and can evaluate their progress.


in Environmental Psychology and Related Fields:


1)      Disaster Psychology

In events of
natural disasters or war, places can be rebuilt keeping in mind the security
phenomenon that the residents of that area experience in relation to their
place of attachment. It can also be utilized in such scenarios to maintain culture
and positive attitudes despite the occurrences for example by taking efforts to
ensure that historical landmarks that are a place of attachment for the people
are not destroyed.


2)      Interior Design

design psychology is a field within environmental psychology, which concerns
the environmental conditions of the interior. It aims to maximize the effects
of the interior environment and the behavior of its inhabitants. Utilizing the
concepts of place attachment, interior designers can build a home, office,
school, special needs utility center or hospital that provides an opportunity
for people to bond with the place. For example, interior designers can make sure
that a school has opportunities for as many activities as possible in order to
ensure attachment according to the physical aspects of the place dimension in the
Tripartite model.



3)      Helping Senior

It is
difficult to develop new place attachment in old age, therefore this study is
vital in understanding how to maximize the ease of transitioning the elderly of
a community into assisted living.

4)      Space Planning

With the
theory of place attachment, cities and towns can be built in order tomaximise
the loyalty and love that people foster for that place. This helps in
developing a community that is motivated to work for and live in its respected
area. For example, buildings and monuments that maintain cultural identities can
be built or more outdoor recreational spaces can be created.  

5)      Tourism

Adding to
what a place has to offer draws more people to it. Using this theory, parks,
beaches, malls and general sites can be built and maintained in order to attract
more tourists. For example, the city of Dubai offers a wide range of
activities, sights and attractions that bring people to it yearly. Another example
is of Paris. It has been built to create an atmosphere of romance and so
invites flocks of people to experience what it has to offer.


Criticism of Place Attachment Theory


As place
attachment has been linked to both positive and negative outcomes it is
important for researchers to be clear about what is meant by place attachment.
The broad definition, that place attachment is an emotional bond between people
and their environments (G. Brown & Raymond, 2007; Jorgenson & Stedman,
2001), is imprecise,
resulting in considerable debate in the literature about how to more precisely
define and measure it (Lewicka, 2011; Trentelman, 2009). There is currently no clear consensus on whether
place attachment is a single order factor, a secondary factor comprised of
primary components, or one component of a higher order factor such as sense of
place (Hernandez,
Hidalgo, & Ruiz, 2013).

Another criticism is that attachment cannot be quantitatively
measured, therefore, no exact conclusions can be drawn on the degree of
attachment. Given the person dimension, another downfall to it is that it is
not generalizable. Preferences of place, attachment to it vary from individual
to individual.

Many other factors can also contribute to place
attachment other than the dimensions being studied, for example, time
dependence, ownership. These factors makeit hard to decipher whether the
attachment is due to those we ascribe to the place and society or other


The theory
of place attachment is an essential concept in understanding how places
influence people and how that can be used to our advantage. At this point in
time, it covers major concepts such as social and physical aspects of a place
and their effect on attachment, the psychological processes that take place in
order for attachment to occur and the people, at an individual level and as a
society, and the variables they offer in this development. With this
information, environmental psychologists can make vital decisions, for example
in space planning. This theory, however, still has a few shortcomings that can
be resolved as further research is conducted on it.