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Mollie Mayfield '11, Psychology, Environmental Studies, Community and Global Health, had a paper accepted for presentation by Division 34 of the American Psychological Association at its annual conference in Washington, D.C. in August 2011. The paper also won the Annual Student Paper Competition for 2011.


The present study was designed to test whether natural environments are perceived as most restorative by all people regardless of background or whether preference for type of potentially restorative setting varies according to the type of settlement and the level of nature in the place one is most attached to. Accordingly, participants were asked to imagine themselves in a fatigued state of mind and then rate a series of 15 images on how restorative they would find the settings depicted. Participants were also asked to identify the place they felt most strongly attached to and to classify this place as rural, suburban/small town, or urban. Results revealed a main effect of Image Type where rural images were consistently rated as most restorative across conditions. More importantly, results revealed an interaction of Image Type X Setting of Place Attachment, wherein the preference for rural images was highest for those who were most strongly attached to a rural setting, less for those who were most strongly attached to a suburban setting, and non-existent for those who were most strongly attached to an urban setting. This suggests that while settings high in levels of nature are restorative across the board, urban settings can also be as restorative as rural settings for those who are most strongly attached to them and that preference for type of restorative setting varies by the setting of the place attachment.

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