Understanding the Various Uses of Urban Green Space: How Public Parks Contribute to Hedonic Happiness in Downtown Phoenix
Research has long supported the idea that parks contribute to physical and mental well-being. Evidence has shown that the presence of parks reduces stress, positively impacts health, and can lower the risk of crime in neighborhoods. There have been studies that discuss variables that impact the accessibility and quality of parks in neighborhoods such as ethnicity, income, and gender. More recently, research has delved into the impact of parks on individual's happiness. Findings imply that the desire for happiness may be satisfied by park visitation and provide evidence that suggests the diversity of park activities is a significant contributor to happiness. This study aims to identify how varying park designs contribute to individual happiness. Three hypotheses are presented: 1) frequency of park visits is positively correlated with life satisfaction, 2) park structure impacts efficacy of parks to promote happiness, and 3) adults travel to parks specifically to improve their mood. Hypothesis 1 is used to understand the relationship between park visitation and overall satisfaction, hypothesis 2 aims to identify how the physical structure of the park contributes to personal happiness, and hypothesis 3 provides an understanding for what motivates adults to visit parks. This study's results indicate that there is no significant correlation between frequency of park visits and life satisfaction, nor is there a significant correlation between physical park structure and increased happiness. While an insignificant amount of participants reported traveling to parks specifically to enhance their mood, the majority of participants indicated traveling to the park to participate in an activity that positively affects their happiness. This study can act as a tool for urban planners to get an idea of why people visit parks and which features they use while they're there. This information can provide guidance when deciding what to include in future parks, utilizing their budget in a way that maximizes community use and happiness.