Aquaphilia: Water-Based Spatial Anchors as Loci of Attachment Academic Article uri icon


  • 2018 by the Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System. This study examines associations between place-making and place-bonding by testing two attachment models and their combination with water-based spatial anchors as a locus of attachment. These water-based spatial anchors were hypothesized to provide a water-based sense of place as a possible cause of aquaphilia, that is, innate attachment to water. I conducted cognitive mapping, photovoice, and interviews in eight European coastal and inland water-centric cities with sixty participants conveniently sampled from nine sites in each city. Path analysis indicated that the social-psychological (SP) and environmental-psychological (EP) models provided less fit than the composite social-environmental-psychological (SEP) model. The composite adequately modeled an aquaphilic sense of place with water-based familiarity, comfort, place dependence, and place identity as explanatory variables. The findings suggest that substantial visual and physical access to restorative and imageable water elements could facilitate the development of attachment. Possible attachment-inducing waterscape-making approaches may include introducing regional waterscapes with distinct geometries and designing local water features with recognizable forms. To help improve the model fit, future research may test path coefficients with grouping variables, such as high-or low-water cities and socioeconomic factors, and combining water-based familiarity, comfort, place dependence, and place identity into two higher-order constructs.

published proceedings

  • Landscape Journal

author list (cited authors)

  • Rising, H. H.

publication date

  • January 1, 2017 11:11 AM