Recovery from stress during exposure to videotaped outdoor environments.
AuthorParsons, Russ John.
KeywordsStress (Physiology) -- Testing.
Human beings -- Effect of stress on -- Testing.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThere is a long history of visual preferences for natural environments over urban environments, as well as beliefs in the restorative value of time spent in natural environments. Diverse theoretical perspectives, such as information overload, learning and evolutionary theories, can be used to help explain these preferences and beliefs, and early empirical research has found tentative support for them. The present study capitalizes on a recovery-from-stress experimental paradigm developed by Ulrich. Subjects are presented with a brief videotaped stressor followed by a brief videotaped outdoor environment while psychological and physiological indicators of arousal and emotion are monitored. In this study, two stressors and four environments were manipulated between subjects. The environments differed along two dimensions that were derived from visual preference research and theoretical predictions: whether they were natural or urban in character, and the presence or absence of a river. Physiological indicators of arousal included heart rate, skin conductance, respiration rate and salivary cortisol levels. Facial electromyographic (EMG) placements were used to assess the emotional valence of subjects' responding. The Zuckerman Inventory of Personal Responses (ZIPERS) was used to assess psychological responding. Analyses yielded a limited and occasionally inconsistent pattern of results. Many of the inconsistent responses to the environments were found across stressors, suggesting that either arousal level or the particular nature of the arousal generated by the two stressors may have interacted with the recovery environments. Despite these inconsistencies, the tentative conclusions that could be reached were generally consistent with past research and theoretical predictions. Evidence from the arousal variables suggested that the Nature and Water environments elicited less arousal during the recovery phase than did the Urban and Non-Water environments; and, there was corraboration or partial corraboration for each of these findings from the self-report data. Similarly, data from the EMG placements favored the Nature environments over the Urban environments, and in particular suggested that the Non-Water Natural (meadow) environment was less likely to produce negative emotions than the other environments. Again, this finding received some support from the self-report data. Possible explanations for the limited and occasionally inconsistent nature of the findings are offered in the discussion section, with the most likely candidate being the relatively attractive Urban environments used in this study compared to those used in past research.