The Effect Of Environmental Stimulation On Stress Recovery And The Influence Of Gender
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Urbanisation is occurring at an unprecedented rate on a global scale with predictions for the majority of the world’s population to be settling in urban areas within 30 years. As such accessibility to green space is significantly reduced and the potential psychological benefits it brings with it, such as stress reduction, are no longer as readily available. The main aim of the current study was to examine the sensory elements of nature in order to investigate what aspect of nature induces the greatest restorative effect and whether it can be replicated through a virtual simulation. It was hypothesised that stress scores would be significantly lower after watching a nature video and listening to birdsong and that there would be a significant difference in the way males and females responded to the conditions. 25 participants were recruited from the Herefordshire area (15 males; 10 females) and completed the independent groups experiment. A Visual Analogue Scale (VAS) was used in order to measure subjective changes in stress before, during and after the experiment and participants completed a timed arithmetic test in order to induce psychological stress. There was no significant effect of condition, however trends suggested that nature visuals were most effective in reducing stress, which was in line with previous research. Results showed a significant difference between gender, in that females responded more intensely to the stress test and experienced a larger decrease in stress following the treatment conditions. The results suggest that future research should examine ways in which to simulate the natural environment’s visual and auditory properties, through the means of virtual reality, in order to reproduce the same restorative effects experienced in real life nature experiences.
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