Different conceptual perspectives converge to predict that if individuals are stressed, an encounter with most unthreatening natural environments will have a stress reducing or restorative influence, whereas many urban environments will hamper recuperation. Hypotheses regarding emotional, attentional and physiological aspects of stress reducing influences of nature are derived from a psycho-evolutionary theory. To investigate these hypotheses, 120 subjects first viewed a stressful movie, and then were exposed to color/sound videotapes of one of six different natural and urban settings. Data concerning stress recovery during the environmental presentations were obtained from self-ratings of affective states and a battery of physiological measures: heart period, muscle tension, skin conductance and pulse transit time, a non-invasive measure that correlates with systolic blood pressure. Findings from the physiological and verbal measures converged to indicate that recovery was faster and more complete when subjects were exposed to natural rather than urban environments. The pattern of physiological findings raised the possibility that responses to nature had a salient parasympathetic nervous system component; however, there was no evidence of pronounced parasympathetic involvement in responses to the urban settings. There were directional differences in cardiac responses to the natural vs urban settings, suggesting that attention/intake was higher during the natural exposures. However, both the stressor film and the nature settings elicited high levels of involuntary or automatic attention, which contradicts the notion that restorative influences of nature stem from involuntary attention or fascination. Findings were consistent with the predictions of the psycho-evolutionary theory that restorative influences of nature involve a shift towards a more positively-toned emotional state, positive changes in physiological activity levels, and that these changes are accompanied by sustained attention/intake. Content differences in terms of natural vs human-made properties appeared decisive in accounting for the differences in recuperation and perceptual intake.
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... Exposure to natural environments is linked to psychological benefits, such as stress reduction, mood enhancement, and restoration from cognitive and attentional strain, and better mental health (Berman et al., 2008;Hartig et al., 2014;Kaplan & Kaplan, 1989;Ulrich et al., 1991). Just viewing natural landscapes or images, videos, and other simulations of nature may produce positive psychological effects (Gaekwad et al., 2022;Ohly et al., 2016;Shuda et al., 2020;Velarde et al., 2007). ...
... These effects are usually explained from evolutionary perspective, which assumes that humans have an innate tendency to respond positively to unthreatening natural environments, because that has been useful for adaptive purposes when evolving in nature. An important psycho-evolutionary theory, the Stress Reduction Theory (SRT) (Ulrich, 1983;Ulrich et al., 1991), emphasizes the immediate physiological and emotional effects human experiences when being exposed to unthreatening natural environments. According to SRT, exposure to nature automatically and immediately elicits positive affects which counteract negative affective states and leads to restoration and recovery from stress. ...
... Evolutionary theoretical frameworks have proposed that humans have been biologically prepared to automatically, or even unconsciously, to respond with positive affects to unthreatening natural environments which signal survival (Kellert & Wilson, 1993;Ulrich et al., 1991). In addition, Perceptual Fluency Account (PFA) suggest that natural stimuli are processed fluently and effortlessly, which is accompanied with positive affects (Joye & Van den Berg, 2011). ...
... Urban green spaces have several positive impacts on the physical and mental health of urban residents. Inspired by the Attention Restoration and Psycho-evolutionary theories (Ulrich et al., 1991;Kaplan, 1995), a growing number of studies have evaluated the effects of different urban green space types, including rivers, forests, parks, squares, and street greening on visual attraction, restoration potential, and stress recovery (Nordh et al., 2013;Amati et al., 2018;Cottet et al., 2018;Franěk et al., 2018). However, they have not sufficiently emphasized the specifics of particular environments. ...
Previous studies have reported religious and non-religious people as having different psychological experiences when visiting sacred landscapes; however, the visual consensus and differences between diverse groups visiting them have rarely been considered. This study used subjective preference evaluation and experimental eye tracking to assess the visual preferences of different groups regarding sacred landscapes. Overall, 48 photos of the Han Chinese Buddhist temples were selected as stimulus materials, including the categories of squares, architecture, waterscapes, and plants. In all, 90 participants were classified into two groups of outsiders and insiders to view the photos. The consensus and differences in their visual preferences and eye movement metrics were evaluated. The results showed that the two groups were more inclined toward the visual preference of religious architectures than the natural landscape that people usually prefer. Another noteworthy discovery revealed the significant differences between the outsiders and the insiders in viewing and evaluating sacred landscapes; the immersion effect explains this result. Specifically, the group with a higher interaction with the environment had greater visual experiences, easier visual information coding, and larger visual exploration range. In addition, this study revealed familiarity with the religious background facilitated achieving a higher consistency between the landscape preference scores and the eye movement metrics. These findings expand the theory of religious environment perception and provided important insights for subsequent research on sacred landscape planning and management.
... For example, the findings of Helbich's study (2018), drawn from an ecological-based analysis in the Netherlands, confirmed that areas with a medium or high proportion of green space have lower suicide mortality, with relative risks of 0.919 and 0.879, respectively. Our finding is also in line with both the psycho-evolutionary theory and the stress reduction theory, which indicates that connection with nature may evoke positive responses, which in turn promotes a reduction in physiological activation and a blockage of negative thoughts (35). Holtan and colleagues also speculated that public green spaces are open spaces with relatively low-cost and easy interventions to increase the strength of social capital among communities and may could reduce the suicide mortality risk (36). ...
This study applied an ecological-based analysis aimed to evaluate on a global scale the association between greenness exposure and suicide mortality.Methods
Suicide mortality data provided by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation and the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) were employed. The generalized additive mixed model was applied to evaluate with an adjustment of covariates the association between greenness and suicide mortality. Sensitivity tests and positive-negative controls also were used to examine less overt insights. Subgroup analyses were then conducted to investigate the effects of greenness on suicide mortality among various conditions.ResultsThe main finding of this study indicates a negative association between greenness exposure and suicide mortality, as greenness significantly decreases the risk of suicide mortality per interquartile unit increment of NDVI (relative risk = 0.69, 95%CI: 0.59–0.81). Further, sensitivity analyses confirmed the robustness of the findings. Subgroup analyses also showed a significant negative association between greenness and suicide mortality for various stratified factors, such as sex, various income levels, urbanization levels, etc.Conclusions
Greenness exposure may contribute to a reduction in suicide mortality. It is recommended that policymakers and communities increase environmental greenness in order to mitigate the global health burden of suicide.
... As postulated by Meinig , any landscape "is composed not only of what lies before our eyes but what lies within our heads," supporting landscape perception as an active construction of our brain. Shedding light on the emotional dimension of landscape perception, the preference for natural overt human-influenced environments has been reported in different cultures  and at a psychophysiological level [15,16]. In a previous study , we explored the subjective feelings (displeasure/pleasure and approach/avoidance) recorded in response to polluted and clean scenes. ...
In our contemporary societies, environmental issues are more and more important. An increasing number of studies explore the biological processes involved in environment perception and in particular try to highlight the mechanisms underlying the perception of environmental scenes by our brain. The main objective of the present study was to establish whether the visualization of clean and polluted environmental scenes would lead to differential postural reactions. Our hypothesis was based on a differential postural modulation that could be recorded when the subject is confronted with images representing a “polluted” environment, differential modulation which has been reported in previous studies in response to painful-scenes compared to non-painful scenes visualization.Thirty-one subjects participated in this study. Physiological measurements [heart rate variability (HRV) and electrodermal activity] and postural responses (Center Of Pression—COP—displacements) were recorded in response to perception of polluted or clean environmental scenes. We show, for the first time, that images representing polluted scenes evoke a weaker approach movement than images representing clean scenes. The displacement of the COP in the anteroposterior axis reflects an avoidance when subjects visualize “polluted” scenes. Our results demonstrate a clear distinction between “clean” and “polluted” environments according to the postural change they induce, correlated with the ratings of pleasure and approach evoked by images.
... This study's findings illustrate that participating clinicians unanimously agreed that NBIs would contribute positively to mental health consumers' recovery journeys. Consistent with the Attention Restoration Theory  and the Stress Recovery Theory , clinicians believed that nature would have a stress-reducing and restorative effect on the consumers. As discussed by other authors [5,13,27], clinicians perceived NBIs as an innovative treatment for mental illness that would offer new ways of managing and alleviating symptoms, especially for depression and anxiety. ...
Mental health conditions are one of the largest burdens of disease in Australia and globally. There is a need to seek innovative and alternative interventions that can prevent and alleviate mental health symptoms. Nature-based interventions (NBIs), namely programs and activities where individuals engage with natural environments with the aim of improving their health and wellbeing (e.g., nature walking groups), may be such an alternative. This study aimed to explore the perceptions of mental health clinicians on the potential benefits of, and barriers to, implementing NBIs within a community mental health setting.
This study used a qualitative, exploratory research design. Fifteen mental health clinicians were recruited from the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District, Australia, and interviewed (September–October 2021) about their perceptions of NBIs within mental health settings. The semi-structured interviews were analysed using an inductive thematic approach and managed with NVivo.
Mental health clinicians viewed spending time in nature as relaxing, refreshing, and therapeutic. Many described it as part of their lifestyle and encouraged consumers to engage in nature-based activities on their own time. If NBIs were to be introduced as part of mental health services, clinicians expressed willingness to promote them to their consumers. Clinicians listed many potential benefits of NBIs for mental health consumers including improved mood, calmness and relaxation, a sense of empowerment, and social connections. Despite these benefits, clinicians were concerned about a variety of barriers to NBIs including consumers’ mental health symptoms such as anxiety or lack of motivation, scepticism, and geographic accessibility, as well as organisational barriers such as policies around safety risk.
Responding to the individual and organisational factors that could hinder the implementation of NBIs while building on the existing evidence of the positive impact of nature on health and wellbeing and, as demonstrated in this study, mental health clinicians’ interest and supportiveness of NBIs, mental health services should consider the implementation of NBIs as part of routine practice.
Aim: This systematic review aims to evaluate changes in Chinese older adults’ psychosocial wellbeing after receiving horticultural therapy, and examine existing evidence regarding horticultural therapy’s effectiveness in a Chinese setting. Method: Intervention studies measuring relevant outcomes amongst older adults and conducted in China were identified from ASSIA, CIHAHL Plus, PsycINFO, EMBASE, MEDLINE, SCOPUS, Web of Science Core Collection and CNKI. Cochrane risk of bias assessment tools were used to appraise study quality. Result: 16 studies were selected, among which four were published in English and 12 in Chinese. Findings suggested that after receiving horticultural therapy, older adults’ psychosocial wellbeing is generally improved, but causal relationships between improvements and horticulture therapy were less clear. Conclusion: Features of horticultural therapy conducted in China is with its cultural and social uniqueness. Existing evidence supports the post-intervention benefits on completion of horticultural therapies, but the limitations in programme design, sample representativeness and methodological robustness limited the quality of the evidence.
Heightened sensitivity to the environment characterizes approximately 30% of the population and is associated with a higher reactivity, positive or negative, to the surrounding environment. Little attention has been devoted to study the association between this trait and the response to nature and animals, despite the potential benefits of the natural environment for highly sensitive individuals. In the present two studies (N=241, 83% female, age M=37.43, SD=13.5; N=144, 92% female, age M=39.9, SD=13.1) we assessed the association of sensory processing sensitivity (SPS), measured with the Highly Sensitive Person scale, with nature and animal affinity. In both studies, we found SPS to predict higher connectedness to nature. In addition, whilst there was no association between high SPS and attachment to pets in Study 1, in Study 2 SPS was predictive of a higher animal affinity, assessed in terms of stewardship and protection of animals. The present studies provide the first quantitative empirical evidence that highly sensitive individuals are more connected with nature and animals, therefore opening the possibility to explore nature based solutions to improve the quality of life in individuals scoring high in SPS. [words 172]
Understanding how human-dominated landscapes affect biodiversity and ecosystems is essential for effective conservation planning. This work aims to understand the relationship between the acoustic diversity of forested landscapes, and descriptors of habitat structure, composition, and anthropogenic pressure, as well as to identify the characteristic scale at which acoustic community diversity relates to those metrics in central Massachusetts.
Ten passive acoustic recorders were placed within forest areas in central Massachusetts, during the breeding season. Mono audio recordings were collected during the dawn chorus. The relationship between acoustic indices (AI), and core habitat quality, connectivity, vegetation productivity, percent tree cover, human edge, artificial illumination, and traffic noise were assessed.
Significant relationships were found between AI and variables related to habitat structure and human pressure. Sounds related to biota (biophony) and acoustic complexity were positively correlated with core habitat quality, connectivity, and vegetation while negatively correlated with human pressure variables, including nighttime lights, traffic noise, and human edge. AI can therefore act as successful indicators of habitat quality in highly modified landscapes The highest correlations were found at buffers between 1.5 and 3 Km. This response of AI to the broad spatial context and not to the local site characteristics indicate that they can act as robust landscape-scale indicators.
The large characteristic scale indicates that urban planning should consider potential impacts acting at scales beyond site planning. Moreover, conservation planning can benefit from managing the context matrix to support biodiversity, particularly traffic noise and artificial illumination reduction initiatives.
The concept of restoration is linked to the objectives achieved by the design characteristics of the internal space that support users' physical and mental health in recovery, improvement, vitality in performance, and stimulation of activity. The research addressed the design characteristics that give restoration features to the internal spaces as a design strategy to support the health of the individuals, that by adopting one of those characteristics which are the visually extended views neighboring, which is required for multi-story housing buildings through the views achieved by the permeability of the residential unit with the neighboring nature. The research, in its methodology, relied on getting a theoretical framework for the main items of the characteristics of the restoration spaces through the direct and indirect impact on the physical, mental and psychological health of the residents. The objectives of the research are concerned with discovering the impact of visual extended factors achieved by the external boundaries of the residential unit on its natural surroundings, a selected sample of 10 housing projects in Erbil/Iraq was measured. The research hypothesis was tested using Isovist-graph software for one of the comprehensive visual characteristics of the optical axes (Entropy), which determines the amount of comprehensive information about the internal spaces that can be known from the point of entry. The conclusion is the impact of the visual depth on the formation of axes of the visual extended that is held by a relationship of the external natural boundaries of the residential unit, and therefore the diversity in the visual characteristics of the spaces extending outside, which give the renewal and vitality to the spaces used.
False windows can display a variety of outdoor scenery in rooms without real windows. We aimed to assess the effects of three different hospital beds on the change in the frontal assessment battery scores in patients aged ≥ 20-year-old admitted in our neurological ward. We included 24 patients on the window side, 12 patients on the aisle side with a false window, and 12 patients on the aisle side without a false window. There were no statistical differences in the change of cognitive function among the three hospital beds. Only the length of hospital stay was a significant associated factor.
The development of empirical research concerning the perception and evaluation of landscape quality has been hampered by the difficulties of presenting adequate samples of landscape views to large samples of respondents. Consequently, there has been extensive use of photographic displays as a substitute for on-site environmental survey. There is, however, relatively little evidence for the validity of such surrogates. The paper reviews the results of previous studies and reports a case study which provides further evidence for the validity and effectiveness of photographs in representing landscapes.