The Research Instrument and Respondent Impressions of the Residential Environment

  • Tridib Banerjee
  • William C. Baer
Part of the Environment, Development, and Public Policy: Environmental Policy and Planning book series (EDPE)


The neighborhood unit, its intended purposes and subsequent criticisms, were the starting place for our own efforts. As mentioned at the outset, however, we did not investigate the neighborhood unit per se based on our assessment of its strengths and weaknesses. Rather, we were able to examine its derivatives as manifested in existing built environments. Accordingly, we substituted the “residential area” as the subject of most of our queries to our respondents, hoping to avoid any loaded connotations or biases stemming from the use of the word neighborhood. Moreover, instead of telling our respondents what the term residential area encompassed, we let them tell us what it meant to them, so that we did not prejudge or predetermine the outcome. In this way, we hoped to tap the essence of the residential experience.


Residential Area Property Safety Research Instrument Residential Environment Income Class 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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  1. 1.
    The three groups comprised approximately 90% of the total population of the region.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    The stage in the family cycle was controlled by screening interviewees during the initial stage. As it was generally difficult to find families with older children, the initial sampling scheme, which called for families with young children as one group and families with older children as another, was revised so that these two groups were included in the single category shown here.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Some 244 interviews were completed by May of 1972, at which time the Public Health Service, which had funded this first stage, had its appropriations for this kind of research eliminated. With subsequent funding from the NIMH, we completed the additional 231 interviews in the spring of 1974. We also undertook the interviews of the low-income Hispanic and the low-income black groups during this second stage of interviewing. See Table A2, Appendix II.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    We used an abbreviated interview schedule (see Appendix I) for these two low-income groups because of the difficulty in getting members of these groups to agree to an interview at all, despite our payment of ten dollars for their time (none of the material was eliminated for the questions we report on here). Because of our difficulty in finding elderly low-income Hispanic respondents, some of the interviews were conducted in the Maravilla Public Housing Project.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    The areas were chosen after we first determined tentative locations from a review of preliminary 1970 Census returns, assessors’ maps (housing value was used as an indication of income), and discussions with people knowledgeable about the metropolitan area. Following the preliminary identification, field checks were made to screen out areas not basically residential.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Lists of addresses were obtained from the Public Systems Research Institute of the School of Public Administration, University of Southern California.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    About 30% of the households initially contacted were acceptable and available for further inquiry. Of these 30%, 65% agreed to participate. These were the major problems encountered: (1) the “wrong” race was frequently found in supposedly middle-income Hispanic areas; (2) no one was at home during the day in middle-income white areas; and (3) the potential respondent in the lower white and middle black areas refused to participate. Other common problems included “income too high” and “refusal during initial contact.”Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    We were advised that the very length of our survey instrument and the degree of cooperation and interest required of the respondents in order to complete the interview meant that our final set of interviews would not be strictly randomly selected, no matter what our sampling scheme. Dr. Virginia A. Clark, Professor of Bio-Statistics of the School of Public Health, University of California, Los Angeles, provided valuable assistance in helping us formulate our sampling design.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    See Appendix I. For parsimony in data, we have collapsed the seven-point scales into a di-chotomous form whereby, for example, “extremely desirable,” “desirable,” and “somewhat desirable” are categorized as one class, and “neither desirable nor undesirable,” “somewhat undesirable,” “undesirable,” and extremely undesirable” are categorized as the other. Thus, a neutral response was assumed to be the threshold to cross in order to indicate at least some positive response. This premise is applicable to all other data display formats in this chapter and elsewhere in this book where similar measures have been used.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    According to the 1970 Census data, which were the basis for the selection of our interview areas, all but the middle-income black and Hispanic areas were considered fairly “homogeneous” in terms of racial mix. By the time we were conducting the second phase of our interviews in 1974-1975, it was apparent from field visits that some of the low-income white areas were being inhabited by the Hispanic population. Thus, although these responses may reflect some exaggerations of racial mix, they may not be entirely inaccurate.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    From a two-way analysis of variance, where both factors, “population type” and “stage in family cycle,” were introduced simultaneously.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    This attitude was apparent in the difference in the adjusted means for the three stages in the family cycle for these two scales. Although the stages in the family cycle were not a significant factor in the case of the “poor-rich” and the “high-status-low-status” scales, the two-way interaction between population type and stages in the family cycle was statistically significant. A breakdown of means by population type and stages in the family cycle showed a consistent pattern of interaction for both of these scales. In both cases, the elderly of the upper-and middle-income groups showed a more negative evaluation than did the rest, and the elderly of the lower-income groups showed a slightly more positive evaluation than their low-income counterparts. That is, the interaction pattern, schematically, was as follows:Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    However, there was a significant interaction effect between population type and stages in the family cycle. A breakdown of means (using the original uncollapsed seven-point scale) by population type and stage in the family cycle showed an interaction pattern similar to the ones reported in note 12. That is, the elderly subgroup of the middle-and upper-income groups tended to evaluate their areas more negatively than respondents in the other two stages in the family cycle in the same income class. Their lower-income counterparts, however, tended to evaluate their environment more positively than the other low-income family-cycle subgroups. Perhaps the upper-and middle-income elderly, although considering their area safer than the low-income areas in general, considered themselves more vulnerable, whereas their low-income counterparts—because they had so little in terms of material possessions—felt less vulnerable to crime.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Compare with note 13.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    In addition, interaction effects were found to be significant in the case of the “comfortable-uncomfortable,” the “beautiful-ugly,” and the “neglected-cared for” scales. A breakdown of unadjusted means by population type and stages in the family cycle suggested a very similar relationship between population type and stages in the family cycle, as noted in note 13, although the patterns were less sharp than before.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    See Question 13—the “trade-off game”—of the questionnaire shown in Appendix I.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Also from the same section of the questionnaire (see note 13).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tridib Banerjee
    • 1
  • William C. Baer
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA

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