Women Emotional, Cognitive and Physiological Modes of Coping with Daily Urban Environments: A Pilot Study

Izhak Schnell*, Basem Hijazi, Diana Saadi, Emanuel Tirosh

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Studies on the effect of urban environments on human risk to health and well-being tend to focus on either physiological or cognitive and emotional effects. For each of these effects, several indicators have been proposed. They are determined either by a physiological-emotional theory or by a cognitive theory of direct attention. However, the interrelationships between these indices have not been thoroughly investigated in environmental contexts. Recently, a neuro-visceral model that incorporates all three aspects has been proposed. The present article focuses on understanding the mechanism of coping with urban environments. More specifically, we analyze the interrelations among nine of the more commonly used indices that represent the physiological, emotional and cognitive aspects of coping with urban environments. The data were collected in the following four environments: home, park, city center and residential area. The participants were 72 healthy, middle-class mothers with either high school or postgraduate education. They wherein their fertile age (20–35) with average Body Mass Index (BMI) of 22.2 and S.D. of 0.8 (48 Arab Muslims and 24 Jewish). They were recruited in a snowball method. Path analysis and principal component analysis are used in order to identify the interrelations among the physiological, cognitive and emotional indices and the directions of these interrelations. According to the findings, the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS), as measured by Heart Rate Variability (HRV) and primarily the parasympathetic tone (High frequency-HF) is the pivotal mechanism that modulates emotional and cognitive responses to environmental nuisances. The ANS response precedes and may trigger the emotional and the cognitive responses, which are only partially interrelated. It appears that the autonomic balance measured by Standard Deviation of NN interval (SDNN) and HF, the cognitive index of restoration and the emotional indices of discomfort and relaxation are closely interrelated. These seemingly disparate operands work together to form a comprehensive underlying network that apparently causes stress and risk to health in urban environments while restoring health in green environments.

Original languageEnglish
Article number8190
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number13
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2022


  • city center environment
  • cognitive responses
  • emotional responses
  • environmental challenges
  • park
  • physiological responses
  • residential environment


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