Finding the “heart” in the green: Conducting a bibliometric analysis to emphasize the need for connecting emotions with biophilic urban planning

Christopher Tirri, Hunter Swanson, Mahbubur Meenar

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Although there is a robust body of literature exploring the relationship between biophilic urban planning (BUP) and public health and well-being, there is a dearth of scholarship on the emotional components of BUP. It is crucial to understand these sentiment-related elements, so planners can assign “human value” to green spaces as a strategy for emphasizing the need to thoughtfully implement and properly maintain them in urban environments. Furthermore, humans’ emotional experiences with green spaces may also reveal hidden or unexpected functions of those spaces. To confirm this lack of emphasis on emotions in BUP, we used Scopus to conduct a bibliometric analysis on relevant literature published within the last twenty years (2001–2021), ultimately collecting 589 relevant peer-reviewed articles. We then utilized VOSviewer (Centre for Science and Technology Studies, Leiden University, The Netherlands) to visualize our results and identify thematic, geo-graphic, authorship/co-authorship, publication, and temporal trends. “Green space” appeared as our most frequently occurring keyword and scholars affiliated with institutions located within the United States, the United Kingdom and China were the top producers of relevant results. Our authorship analysis resulted in 67 different clusters and three major but isolated networks. Urban Forestry and Urban Greening was the most prevalent source of publication and 2019–2021 was the most prolific period of activity to date. While the goal of our review is to underscore the dearth of controlled, interdisciplinary research on the emotional components of BUP, we also uncovered additional key gaps in scholarship that could promote future avenues of inquiry. First, by focusing on the emotional value of green spaces, practitioners can ascribe them an intangible “human value” that could, in turn, generate more community-focused designs that provide access across socioeconomic, racial and age brackets. Second, an increase in scholarly representation from developing countries could help address the “human value” of green spaces not simply as a “first-world” phenomenon. Finally, a global focus on the emotional, human connections to green spaces may help scholars and practitioners alike mitigate the growing trend of green gentrification.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number9435
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number18
StatePublished - Sep 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


Dive into the research topics of 'Finding the “heart” in the green: Conducting a bibliometric analysis to emphasize the need for connecting emotions with biophilic urban planning'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this