Stress and Restoration during Navigation through an Urban Environment

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Stress or restoration may result from elements of the urban environment (Geiser & Walla, 2011). For example, Geiser and Walla (2011) found that participants’ startle response to a loud burst of noise was reduced while (virtually) navigating through a neighborhood containing relatively more valuable property. Previous research has also established that immersion in real natural scenes (Berman, Jonides, & Kaplan, 2008), viewing a video of a real natural scene on a large projection screen (de Kort et al., 2006), and immersion in a cartoon-like (virtual) natural scene (Valtchanov, Barton, & Ellard, 2010) all ameliorate stress relative to controls (i.e., a city environment, a natural scene projected with a smaller field of view, and an immersive view of abstract art, respectively). Our previous study extended this research by comparing measures of arousal (including skin conductance and frequency of eye movements) during navigation (i.e., in real time) within and without particular urban features. Ongoing research in our group is investigating the sensitivity and consistency of various mobile physiological data acquisition devices and the causal relationship between stress and navigation.

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