Evaluating restoration in urban green spaces: Does setting type make a difference?

A. van den Berg, A. Jorgensen, E.R. Wilson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

226 Citations (Scopus)


A growing body of research suggests that natural settings are more effective in providing restoration from depleted emotional and cognitive resources than built settings. However, there is a lack of evidencebased guidelines on which options for urban green space design and management are most effective in providing restoration. To address this need, the present study examined the restorative impacts of urban public spaces differing in naturalness. After having been pre-stressed by watching a scary movie, 102 participants were randomly assigned to viewing one of four photo/video presentations depicting an urban street, parkland, tended woodland, or wild woods. Self-reported mood and restorative state were measured at baseline, after the stressor and after viewing the environment. After controlling for stress reactivity, participants in the natural conditions showed stronger recovery on all dependent measures than those in the urban street condition. Differences in recovery among the natural settings did not reach significance. Keyword analysis revealed that the wild woods were described as more arousing than the parkland and tended woodland. There was substantial variation in recovery of vitality within natural conditions, which was related to perceptions of naturalness. In general, the findings suggest that restoration in urban public spaces depends on individual perceptions and needs as well as physical characteristics of the setting.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)173-181
JournalLandscape and Urban Planning
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • perceived restorativeness
  • environmental preference
  • psychological benefits
  • natural environments
  • physical-activity
  • stress recovery
  • landscape
  • health
  • satisfaction
  • view


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