Sense of Place

The Sense of Place Vital Sign is a composite of two separate indices and a baseline measure of satisfaction derived from existing national survey data. Sense of place is defined as the extent to which people identify with and feel positively attached to a specific place. Several studies have demonstrated that not only does a strong sense of place contribute to human wellbeing, but that it can also contribute to a desire to protect the natural environment. Sense of place is clearly linked to other human wellbeing measures, particularly cultural and psychological measures, and is thus an informative, all-encompassing measure of well being. The measure of overall life satisfaction will be used as a baseline against which to assess changes in status of most of the other Human Wellbeing indicators.


Key Vital Sign Messages

  • Puget Sound residents have a strong sense of place, regularly spend time outdoors, and are largely satisfied with their lives.

  • Puget Sound residents have a strong sense of pride and identity associated with nature. 

  • Puget Sound residents spend time outdoors to reduce stress and to experience inspiration.

  • Between 2018-2020, Puget Sound residents’ sense of place of the natural environment slightly increased.

  • Residents’ strong connections to nature partly stem from cultural and outdoor activities. For example, residents develop connections to nature through shellfish harvesting

  • Puget Sound newcomers and long-term residents share a strong connection to the region’s natural environment.

  • Residents also feel attached to the region’s shorelines.  

  • People with a strong sense of place are likely to be environmental stewards and support pro-environmental plans and policies.

  • Sense of place reflects residents’ different and shared emotions, memories, values, identities, and actions associated with the natural environment.

  • Puget Sound residents’ life satisfaction varied by county but is slightly higher than other regions of the United States, according to the World Happiness Report.

Background Documents

Contributing Partners