On the subjective quality of social Interactions : Influence of neighborhood walkability, social cohesion and mobility choices

Article

van den Berg, P.E.W., Sharmeen, F. & Weijs - Perrée, M. (2017). On the subjective quality of social Interactions : Influence of neighborhood walkability, social cohesion and mobility choices. Transportation Research. Part A: Policy and Practice, 106(December 2017), 309-319.

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Abstract

 

Contemporary research in the field of transportation is paying due attention to the geography and composition of personal social networks. However, still little is known about the quality of social interactions, although arguably the subjective quality of social interaction is more important for individuals’ quality of social life than the quantity of it. It is, therefore, important to gain insight in the subjective aspects of social activities in addition to the objective aspects. To that end, this study summarizes empirical evidence of factors that make a particular social interaction valuable. Value or the quality of social interactions is measured by individual’s subjective evaluation of the importance of social interactions. Based on social interaction diary data collected in 2014, two analyses were conducted - a negative binomial regression model to predict the number of (very) important face-to-face interactions per individual, and a two-level ordinal logit model to predict the importance of each interaction. Explanatory variables were individuals’ personal, neighborhood and mobility characteristics. Results suggest that neighborhood and mobility characteristics are important in explaining the quality of social interactions. Frequency of important social interactions is positively associated with frequency of walking or cycling. The frequency of important social interactions was also found to be higher for people living in neighborhoods with higher levels of perceived social cohesion and walkability, and lower for people living in rural areas, in neighborhoods with higher percentages of older residents and in neighborhoods with higher percentages of ethnic minorities. Policymakers, urban planners and decision makers should therefore aim to increase walkability and neighborhood social cohesion, with due attention to neighborhoods with high percentages of elderly and immigrant population.