The Cumulative Risk Model to encompass perceived urban safety and well-being

  • Elena Bilotta Third Center of Cognitive Psychotherapy, Rome, Italy
  • Silvia Ariccio Department of Psychology of Development and Socialization Processes, Sapienza University of Rome, Rome, Italy
  • Luigi Leone Department of Psychology of Development and Socialization Processes, Sapienza University of Rome, Rome, Italy
  • Marino Bonaiuto Department of Psychology of Development and Socialization Processes, Sapienza University of Rome, Rome, Italy Inter-University Centre for Research in Environmental Psychology (CIRPA), Rome, Italy


The Cumulative Risk Model (CRM) has usually been applied to developmental and quality of life psychology; however, the CRM could also be applied to the urban safety and personal well-being of people living in urban environments, since cities are complex, multi-risk scenarios. This paper presents two studies meant to provide evidence in support of this hypothesis. The first study (N=287) was aimed to create and validate a set of scales to measure the cumulative risk index and to pilot study two. Study two (N = 540), instead, aimed at showing how a higher number of risk factors is associated to a higher level of perception of insecurity/fear of crime and a smaller level of wellbeing/satisfaction with life and provided consistent correlational evidence, controlling for the neighborhood effect. These studies showed that the CRM can be used to study urban safety issues, since perception of personal safety, fear of crime and well-being are multidimensional constructs, and are affected by a large series of environmental and psychosocial risk factors. The CRM could have significant applications for policymaking and urban renovation.


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