Urban Options for Psychological Restoration: Common Strategies in Everyday Situations
2016 (English)In: PLoS ONE, ISSN 1932-6203, E-ISSN 1932-6203, Vol. 11, no 1, e0146213Article in journal (Refereed) PublishedText
Objectives Given the need for knowledge on the restorative potential of urban settings, we sought to estimate the effects of personal and contextual factors on preferences and restoration likelihood assessments for different urban activities-in-environments. We also sought to study the generality of these effects across different countries. Methods We conducted a true experiment with convenience samples of university students in the Netherlands (n = 80), Sweden (n = 100), and the USA (n = 316). In each country, the experiment had a mixed design with activities-in-environments (sitting in a park, sitting in a cafe, walking in a shopping mall, walking along a busy street) manipulated within-subjects and the need for restoration (attentional fatigue, no attentional fatigue) and immediate social context (in company, alone) manipulated between-subjects. The manipulations relied on previously tested scenarios describing everyday situations that participants were instructed to remember and imagine themselves being in. For each imagined situation (activity-in-environment with antecedent fatigue condition and immediate social context), subjects provided two criterion measures: general preference and the likelihood of achieving psychological restoration. Results The settings received different preference and restoration likelihood ratings as expected, affirming that a busy street, often used in comparisons with natural settings, is not representative of the restorative potential of urban settings. Being with a close friend and attentional fatigue both moderated ratings for specific settings. Findings of additional moderation by country of residence caution against broad generalizations regarding preferences for and the expected restorative effects of different urban settings. Conclusions Preferences and restoration likelihood ratings for urban activity-environment combinations are subject to multiple personal and contextual determinants, including level of attentional fatigue, being alone versus in company, and broader aspects of the urban context that vary across cities and countries. Claims regarding a lack of restorative quality in urban environments are problematic.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016. Vol. 11, no 1, e0146213
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-276822DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0146213ISI: 000367801400117PubMedID: 26731272OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-276822DiVA: diva2:903498