your brain on cities

As a kind of modern update on Simmel, researchers have found that people get pretty negative side effects to living in cities. Simmel had some good news, I suppose. But scientists have found that the amygdala kinda freaks out, and increases the chances of stimulating the anxiety and danger-alertness of city dwellers. The diversity of the results, however, are perhaps the most interesting:

In an accompanying commentary in Nature, Dr Daniel Kennedy and Prof Ralph Adolphs, both at the California Institute of Technology, said that there are wide variations in a people’s preferences for, and ability to cope with, city life.

“Some thrive in New York city; others would happily swap it for a desert island. Psychologists have found that a substantial factor accounting for this variability is the perceived degree of control that people have over their daily lives. Social threat, lack of control and subordination are all likely candidates for mediating the stressful effects of city life, and probably account for much of the individual differences.”

 

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