A recent study in Nature Human Behaviour concluded that the number of familiar locations that an individual visits at any point is typically ~25. I was a little surprised by this number, expecting it to be higher, but the researchers employed a robust methodology. Previous studies found that individual generally visit a small set of locations, but also that the number of places that a person visits grows steadily over time. The authors initiated this study in order to investigate this seeming contradiction. This study analyzed data collected from ~40,000 individual Smartphone users, which it reports as being “high-resolution multi-year traces,” and which originated from 4 different databases.
The data revealed that a person’s ‘location capacity,’ that is the number of places which a person visits regularly, remains constant over long periods of time (months and years). In other words, at any given time, the number of familiar places that a person visits is around 25. While the individual places will change over time, but the total number regularly visited places at a given time remains consistent.
This study is significant for placemakers and communities in general, as it underscores the importance of placemaking. If we only regularly visit a small number of places, we should strive to make these places as engaging as possible. Well-being would certainly be negatively impacted if all of the places that we visit are lackluster and bleak.
How many places do you regularly visit?
Teale Phelps Bondaroff
Board Member and Pocket Places Project Lead
Greater Victoria Placemaking Network