Biophobia and Urban Restorativeness

Patuano, Agnès


Natural areas are now known to be important resources for the health and wellbeing of urban dwellers, through, for example, the opportunities they provide for cognitive and emotional restoration. However, urban populations have also been found not to engage with these spaces and to display some form of biophobia which may hinder them from perceiving any of these benefits. This concept of biophobia is thought to entail both our innate physiological responses to the perceived danger from non-human threats such as spiders and snakes and our cultural attachment to material comfort. The word is often used with derogatory connotations, even if it is part of an evolutionary mechanism honed over thousands of years to keep humans alive. This review presents the current state of knowledge on urban biophobia as well as evidence of instances in which built and mixed urban environments were found to be more restorative than natural ones for the urban population, in order to assess any connection within the two. A series of recommendations for further research but also for the practical implementation of natural areas in cities capable of attracting a wide variety of people regardless of their fears or preferences are also formulated. Only by investigating the psychological and physiological responses of urban dwellers to their daily environments can we hope to design interventions which will remain relevant for the modern world. View Full-Text