Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Natural scenes calm drivers more than city views, study finds

25.11.2003


The hassles and frustration of commuting and road trips may not seem so bad if you drive down scenic, tree-lined streets, a new study suggests.



Researchers found that people who viewed a videotape of a drive down a scenic parkway scored lower on a test of frustration than did others who viewed a drive through a metro area cluttered with buildings and utility poles.

While commuters may not get to choose their views as they drive to work, the results suggest that nature can have a calming effect on drivers, said Jack Nasar, co-author of the study and professor of city and regional planning at Ohio State University.


“Researchers have long found that nature can be an antidote to stress,” Nasar said. “We found that roadways with views of vegetation and trees rather than more urban scenes can make drivers feel a little less frustrated.”

Nasar conducted the study with Jean Marie Cackowski, a former graduate student at Ohio State and now managing editor of the Journal of Planning Literature. The study appears in the November 2003 issue of the journal Environment and Behavior.

“It is clear from the study that our natural environment has a psychological affect on us, even when we’re doing something mundane as driving a car,” Cackowski said.

The study involved 106 college students who viewed one of three videotapes. Each tape was 4 minutes and 45 seconds long and showed a view through the front windshield of a car as it drove along a roadway. The three videos were taken within eight miles of each other on northern New Jersey or southern New York highways.

One video, labeled “Scenic Parkway” was of a four-lane roadway through a wooded area with few buildings or man-made structures visible from the roadway. The second video, labeled “Garden Highway” was of a six-lane, controlled access highway that, while not as wooded as the scenic parkway, still showed relatively few buildings or utility poles. The third video, labeled “Built-Up Highway,” featured a drive down a six-lane highway through an area of strip malls, commercial signs and utility poles, and relatively little vegetation.

The researchers made sure that the video that they believed would be most calming – the scenic parkway drive – actually had the most traffic shown.

“Though this choice may have reduced the beneficial effects of the parkway, it means the results we found are probably stronger,” Nasar said.

Before they were shown the video, the participants had to perform a difficult 10-minute test that was meant to raise their stress and anger levels.

They were then given a test measuring their anger levels. After the anger test, they watched the driving videos. The participants were asked to focus on the video, place their foot on a dummy accelerator pedal under the table, and imagine they were driving to work.

After the viewings, participants re-took the anger test. They also took a test to measure their tolerance for frustration, which involved a set of four word puzzles: anagrams (scrambled words) that they were told to unscramble to form a word. However, some of the anagrams were unsolvable.

The time people spend on the unsolvable anagrams serves as a measure of frustration, Cackowski said. High levels of frustration should lead people to quit the unsolvable anagrams more quickly.

Results showed that participants who watched the “scenic parkway” video – the one through the wooded area – showed lower levels of frustration than those who watched the videos of the more urban driving experiences.

“Respondents viewing the scenic parkway condition worked almost a minute and a half longer on the unsolvable anagrams than did the respondents who watched the other videos,” Cackowski said. “This suggests that the scenic views of this video had a restorative, calming effect on those who watched it. If these people were that less frustrated, it may translate into a real behavior difference.”

Which video the participants viewed had no effect on their levels of anger, the study showed. The reason may be that anger scores for the participants weren’t really high enough in the first place, Nasar said. The stressful addition test that the volunteers took before watching the videos didn’t succeed in causing much anger. “Perhaps we would have seen a greater effect if their anger levels were higher before they watched the videos, or if they had a more realistic driving task,” he said.

Nasar noted that this study was not a very realistic driving situation. However, he and Cackowski are running a follow-up experiment in which participants will use simulation software that will provide a more realistic driving experience.

“The fact that we got results even with this simple study suggests their may be real effects,” he said. “These results go along with other studies that show people prefer natural scenery over urban scenery and that natural scenery can produce positive psychological effects.”


Contact: Jack Nasar, (614) 292-1457; Nasar.1@osu.edu
Jean Marie Cackowski, (614) 292-4011;
Cackowski.1@osu.edu
Written by Jeff Grabmeier, (614) 292-8457; Grabmeier.1@osu.edu

Jeff Grabmeier | Ohio State University
Further information:
http://researchnews.osu.edu/archive/natdrive.htm

More articles from Transportation and Logistics:

nachricht Tool helps cities to plan electric bus routes, and calculate the benefits
09.01.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

nachricht Realistic training for extreme flight conditions
28.12.2016 | Technical University of Munich (TUM)

All articles from Transportation and Logistics >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Argon is not the 'dope' for metallic hydrogen

24.03.2017 | Materials Sciences

Astronomers find unexpected, dust-obscured star formation in distant galaxy

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Gravitational wave kicks monster black hole out of galactic core

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>