Residential Community Identification and Psychological Well-Being
Long, Daniel Adam
An ecological and multidisciplinary approach is used in predicting the impact of residential community identification (RCI) on distress and well-being. RCI is defined as a fusion of place identity to the residential street block space and a sense of community with those co-residing there. It was hypothesized that greater RCI predicts increased well-being and decreased distress over time, perhaps as moderated by the social or environmental climate, and when controlling for individual characteristics, available resources, and characteristics of the social and physical environment. The hypothesis was tested with one-year panel data (surveys, objective environmental ratings, police reported crime) from residents of 50 neighborhoods throughout Baltimore in 1987 and 1988. Lagged, multilevel (HLM) analyses supported the hypothesis while change-predicting-change analyses did not. Even in the absence of a common threat or disruption to community, and when controlling for all the major covariates of psychological well-being (e.g., social support, stress, individual and community resources), higher RCI robustly predicted lower distress and higher well-being one year later both directly and as moderated by several social and structural features: block aggregate socioeconomic status, social capital, block proportion homeowners, collective sense of community, number of children living on the block, and neighborhood reported crime. Implications for theory, ecological research methods, and intervention are discussed.