The lack of research concerning psychological benefits of urban parks has prevented their full evaluation as environmental amenities. In this study, psychological as well as active recreation benefits of a residential park were examined through a questionnaire, open-ended interviews, a photograph rating procedure, and observation of activity.
Nonmetric factor analysis of questionnaire data identified two principal factors of perceived park benefits:
Passive Nature and Recreation/Social. Although respondents attached greatest importance to the Passive Nature factor, the park’s ranking in terms of the importance of its Recreation/Social benefits in some instances equalled or surpassed that of other costly facilities that were easily accessible to residents.
Low users and even nonusers of the park appeared to derive substantial psychological benefits. These findings imply that studies limited to direct users may grossly under represent park benefits. To account for the nonuser results, perceived control is postulated to be a benefit derived from mere awareness of a park’s presence. Implications of the findings for urban park design and recreation policy are discussed.