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Assessing Perceptions of Environments for Active Living

      Background

      Substantial research has been done on the relationship of physical environments to active living, much of it using observational measures of physical properties. Although this research is important, it produces an incomplete picture. Perceptions of environmental factors may affect physical activity. There is particular value in learning about people’s perceptions of environmental factors that are associated with increased or decreased likelihood of physical activity.

      Methods

      The present paper surveys and evaluates various options for measuring perceptions of specific environments and alternatives for study designs and methods. Referring to the relevant studies and concepts in environmental psychology, environmental perception, and related disciplines, it identifies and evaluates the measurement methods.

      Results

      The measurement of environmental perceptions must take into consideration the selection of respondents, measurement of environmental variables, sampling and mode of presentation of the environmental stimuli, and response measures.

      Conclusions

      Research can build on current knowledge of environmental perception to explore measures and methods of particular relevance to understanding people’s likelihood of using places for physical activity.
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