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Humans consistently show preferences for natural landscapes and features (Orians and Heerwagen, 1992; see also Falk and Balling, 2010). These might well be evolutionary responses – a general inherited preference for the types of landscapes in which our species evolved.

A landmark study (Ulrich, 1983) investigated whether hospital patients whose ward windows gave natural views recovered faster after operations than those patients whose windows gave a view of a brick wall. Ulrich found that the patients with the natural views needed to stay in hospital for a shorter time after their operations, took fewer painkillers, and experienced fewer post-surgical complications.

To better understand the effects of natural views, Ulrich and colleagues (1991) conducted a controlled experiment – this time, with participants being drawn from the general population rather than hospital patients. The test participants were wired up to monitoring apparatus, and physiological arousal readings were measured throughout the process. Participants were first subjected to a video that was designed to provoke stress, before being split into groups and shown videos either depicting nature scenes or man-made settings. Ulrich et al’s results showed that recovery from stress was faster in participants who viewed the nature scenes. Compared with participants who viewed the built environments, the ‘nature views’ group also reported that they experienced lower levels of fear and anger.

Other studies have shown similar findings (Stevens, 2015). This further suggests that increasing exposure to natural environments can have beneficial psychological effects on a person, including improved attention (Berto, 2005) and a more positive emotional state (Hartig and Staats, 2006).

So there we have it! Contact Admiral today and let our designers help you to create your happy place.

References

Berto, R. (2005) ‘Exposure to restorative environments helps restore attentional capacity’, Journal of Environmental Psychology, vol. 25, pp. 249 – 259

Falk, J. H. and Balling, J. D. (2010) ‘Evolutionary influence on human landscape preference’, Environment and Behavior, vol.42, pp. 479 – 493

Hartig, T. and Staats, H. (2006) ‘The need for psychological restoration as a determinant of environmental preferences’, Journal of Environmental Psychology, vol. 26, pp. 215 – 226

Orians, G. H. and Heerwagen, J. H. (1992) ‘Evolved responses to landscapes’, in Barkow, J.H., Cosmides, L. and Tooby, J. (eds) The Adapted Mind, Oxford University Press, pp. 555 – 579

Stevens, P. (2015) ‘Relationships with the natural world’, in Hewson, C. and Turner, J. (eds) Living Psychology: From the Everyday to the Extraordinary, Milton Keynes, The Open University, p.344

Ulrich, R.S. (1983) ‘Aesthetic and affective response to natural environment’, in Altman, I. and Wohlwill, J.F. (eds) Behavior and the Natural Environment, New York, Plenum Publishing, pp. 85 – 126

Ulrich, R.S., Simons, R.F., Losito, B.D., Fiorito, E., Mile, M.A. and Zelson, M. (1991) ‘Stress recovery during exposure to natural and urban environments’, Journal of Environmental Psychology, vol. 11, pp. 201 – 230

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