Wind power projects frequently face public opposition during the siting process. A deeper understanding of social factors has therefore been called for. Based on psychological theories, the present research was initiated in order to study the relative importance of individual aspects related to visual perception and attitudinal factors in public intention to oppose local wind turbines. In an empirical study, 80 people assessed the visual characteristics of wind turbines on site and rated their emotional state. They also completed a questionnaire covering attitudes towards the turbines, perception of significant others' opinions of local wind turbines, and perceived possibilities to oppose as well as intention to oppose local turbines. Moreover, socio-demographics, factors related to the place of residence and general attitude towards wind power, were investigated. In a multiple regression analysis explaining 50% of the variance, it was found that intention to oppose was related to only a few perceptual and attitudinal factors, i.e. the perceived unity of the environment, the personal attitude towards the effects of wind turbines on landscape aesthetics and recreation, and the general attitude towards wind power. Of minor importance was the attitude towards the effects of wind turbines on people's daily quality of life. It seems important to involve the public in the discussion of how wind power installations can be integrated into the landscape without threatening the visual beauty and the recreational value of the natural and cultural environment. Moreover, social intervention is required to promote positive attitudes towards wind turbines. Copyright © 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.