- Assessing the restorative potential of contemporary urban environment(s): Beyond the nature versus urban dichotomy
- Landscape and Urban Planning
- Volume | Issue number
- 86 | 2
- Number of pages
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Psychology Research Institute (PsyRes)
The current literature on restorative environments generally leads to the conclusion that urban environments are inherently deficient in stressreducing and mood-enhancing capacities. We challenge this view in our study. The participants we asked to take part were naturally stressed after taking an exam. We provide empirical evidence, making use of an abbreviated version of the Profile of Mood States (POMS) questionnaire, that a well-designed and attractive urban environment can have a stress-reducing and mood-enhancing power equal to that of an attractive natural environment. We attempt to identify the physical characteristics that contribute to the perceived restorative effect of the urban environment we selected for our study.
Another issue we explored was the impact of a narrative on the attractiveness and interestingness of the natural and urban environments. We wrote a story to go with each of our environments, describing some of the meanings embedded in their physical properties. The addition of cultural and historical information about our natural and urban environments resulted into a 25% increase in their perceived interestingness and a 14% increase in their perceived attractiveness.We conclude that significant parts of the story behind an environment as well as any experiential qualities related to them remain inaccessible to an observer and can only be appreciated by providing some explicit commentary.
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