The Disorder Perceptions of Nonresidents: A Textual Analysis of Open-Ended Survey Responses to Photographic Stimuli

Danielle Wallace, Brooks Louton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Nonresidents’ perceptions of disorder are potentially consequential for neighborhoods in many ways, as disorder shapes individuals’ behavior within neighborhoods. Unfortunately, there is little research which delves into understanding how nonresidents perceive disorder. Our study provides insight into the perceptions of nonresidents by assessing their interpretations of disorder through their reaction to three photographic stimuli of neighborhoods where they do not live. Through qualitative analysis, we examine various themes in the responses, including disorder theory and both implicit and explicit racial bias. Results show that while nonresidents do have traditional interpretations of disorder, they also interpret disorder in many different ways. Also, even in the absence of people in the photographic stimuli, nonresidents frequently associated disorder with race. Given that nonresidents have the capability to influence the flow of money and resources into the neighborhood, their racially encoded disorder perceptions may have the unintended consequence of entrenching neighborhood issues like segregation, concentrated disadvantage, or unemployment that are common in minority neighborhoods.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)21-43
Number of pages23
JournalCity and Community
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2018


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Urban Studies

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