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Relationship between psychological responses and physical environments in forest settings

Key Message

Compared to urban settings, forest settings are perceived as being significantly more enjoyable, friendly, natural, and sacred.


Park, Bum-Jin, et al. (2011). Relationship between psychological responses and physical environments in forest settings. Landscape and Urban Planning. 102 (1): 24-32. doi:10.1016/j.landurbplan.2011.03.005


This study aimed to clarify the relationship between psychological responses to forest and urban environmental settings and the physical variables that characterize these environments, by examining the psychological responses of 168 subjects to their physical environment. Field experiments were conducted in 14 forests and 14 urban areas across Japan. The semantic differential (SD) method was employed in which a questionnaire was administered to subjects prior to their walks in the forests and urban areas. In addition, the profile of mood states (POMS) questionnaire was administered before and after the walks, as well as before and after they sat and viewed the forest and urban landscapes. The environmental variables measured were air temperature, relative humidity, radiant heat, wind velocity, and two indices of thermal comfort [predicted mean vote (PMV) and predicted percentage dissatisfied (PPD)]. 


The POMS measures of tension and anxiety (T-A), depression and dejection (D), anger and hostility (A-H), vigor (V), confusion (C), fatigue (F), and total mood disturbance (TMD) showed significant differences between the forests and urban areas. In forest areas, the incidence of positive emotions is significantly higher than urban areas.  In forest areas, thermal conditions are more comfortable than urban areas.  Positive emotions are correlated with thermal comfort.These results strongly support the suggestion that forest settings have attention restoration effects.

Benefit Statements / Outcomes

Leadership Provided By:

  • Leisure Information Network (LIN)
  • Alberta Recreation and Parks Association

On Behalf Of:

  • Canadian Parks and Recreation Association (CPRAA)

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