Background and Experiential Factors
The previous chapters have marshaled much evidence for the negative impact of crowding in prisons. Even though the findings are consistent, it is evident that not all inmates react negatively to living in crowded conditions. A small number actually prefer living in open dormitories rather than single cells. The same applies for other settings as well. Some people adjust better to crowded dormitories or to crowded cities than others. Many people, in fact, prefer living in crowded cities compared to small towns. What is the basis for such differences in preferences for and reactions to crowded environments? Past research has given us very few leads. There is some evidence that growing up in a large city or in a crowded home reduces the negative reactions to crowded environments (Baron et al., 1976; Wohlwill & Kohn, 1973). Yet no clear theoretical or empirical base exists to aid one’s search for factors that might influence reactivity to crowding.
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