Affective priming of perceived environmental restorativeness


  • Paul Stevens

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Psychology, Faculty of Social Sciences, The Open University, Milton Keynes, UK
    • Correspondence should be addressed to Paul Stevens, Department of Psychology, Faculty of Social Sciences, The Open University, Walton Hall, Milton Keynes MK7 6AA, UK. (E-mail:

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Research into the perceived restorativeness of environments tends to focus on the Kaplans' Attention Restoration Theory at the expense of the affective considerations of Ulrich's psychoevolutionary model. To better understand the role of emotion, this study used contextual text-based primers (newspaper articles) to manipulate participants' affective state (positive or negative) prior to them rating different environments using the Restorative Components Scale. Sixty-nine participants completed the web-based study, being pseudo-randomly allocated to the positive- or negative-prime condition before rating three natural and three urban environments. Natural environments were rated as more restorative than urban, with negative-priming giving higher mean ratings for all environments. This effect was overall statistically significant for two components (Being Away and Fascination), but only Fascination showed a significant interaction of affective-prime and environment, a larger effect being seen for natural environments. Results are discussed in terms of current understanding of the interrelationship between attentional and affective processes.