Restorative experience and self-regulation in favorite places
- Topic: Greenspace
Natural settings clearly predominated among favorite places and were underrepresented among unpleasant places. The feelings most frequently associated with favorite places would contribute to emotional well-being—relaxation, calmness, and comfortableness in the first place.
Korpela, K.M., Hartig, T., Kaiser, F.G., & Fuhrer, U. (2001). Restorative experience and self-regulation in favorite places. Environment and Behavior, 33(4), 572-589.
The authors report further evidence bearing on the relations among restorative experiences, self-regulation, and place attachment. University students (n = 101) described their favorite places and experiences in them, and 98 other students described unpleasant places. Natural settings were over-represented among favorite places and underrepresented among the unpleasant places. In open-ended accounts, frequent mention of being relaxed, being away from everyday life, forgetting worries, and reflecting on personal matters indicated a link between favorite places and restorative experience. Restoration was particularly typical of natural favorite places. Structured evaluations of being away, fascination, coherence, and compatibility indicated they were experienced to a high degree in the favorite places, although fascination to a lesser degree than compatibility. The favorite and unpleasant places differed substantially in all four restorative qualities but especially in being away and compatibility. Self-referencing appears to be more characteristic of favorite place experiences than engaging or interesting environmental properties.
Undergraduates at the University of California, Berkeley, were recruited from the Department of Psychology’s Human Subjects Pool (n = 160) and a 578 Environment and Behavior / July 2001 cognitive science class (n = 37) and were compensated with course credit. Two additional student volunteers did not claim course credit. Participants’ (65.3% female) median age was 19.0 years (M= 20.8 years; range = 17 to 47). Participants were taken through the procedure in small groups, which met in a classroom. The participants received a questionnaire that was labeled Environmental Evaluation and that had instructions appropriate to either the favorite place or the unpleasant place. The two versions were distributed so that every other student received the version for the favorite place. Altogether, 101 participants completed the favorite place version and 98 completed the unpleasant place version.
The largest proportion (48%) of the favorite places met the criteria for classification of natural settings (see Table 1). The next largest category was made up of residential settings (19%). The natural settings clearly predominated among the favorite places, and residential settings were moderately over-represented, χ2 = 194.0, df = 9, n = 101, p < .001.
The qualitative results flesh out the results of the structured evaluations. Natural settings clearly predominated among favorite places and were underrepresented among unpleasant places. Moreover, restorative outcomes characterized natural favorite places in particular. The feelings most frequently associated with favorite places would contribute to emotional well-being—relaxation, calmness, and comfortableness in the first place, Korpela et al. / Restoration in Favorite Places 585 with happiness, enjoyment, and excitement as the next most frequently mentioned. Forgetting worries and reflecting on personal matters suggest that hypothetically deeper levels of restorative experience (i.e., thought to follow from clearing the head and recovery of directed attention capacity) emerge in favorite places. Solitude was mentioned at a noticeable frequency in favorite places. This finding can be considered in light of Harris, Brown, and Werner’s (1996) proposal of a relationship between place attachment and possibilities for privacy regulation.
| © 2001 Sage Publications