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Psychological wellbeing benefits of simulated exposure to five urban settings: An experimental study from the pedestrian's perspective

Bornioli, Anna; Parkhurst, Graham; Morgan, Phillip


Phillip Morgan


© 2018 Elsevier Ltd The potential health benefits of walking in attractive, predominantly built-up urban settings have not received much attention from scholars, despite the global need to increase walking levels in cities. The current experimental study assessed the affective outcomes associated with several urban walking settings, with a focus on the presence of motor-traffic and architectural styles from different historic periods. We employed a mixed within-between subjects design (n = 269) with employees and students from Bristol (UK) and measured relaxation and hedonic tone experiences, perceived restorativeness, and environmental perceptions following exposures to one of five urban settings. Results identified three categories of affective outcomes, rather than the classic dichotomy ‘urban vs natural’: the simulated walks in areas with greenery rated significantly better than the others; however, the pedestrianised settings were associated with neutral or positive affective outcomes and perceptions, with statistically significant differences with an area with traffic. These results suggest that walking in high-quality urban settings can have positive outcomes, and highlight the negative role of traffic and the potential benefits of historic elements in the affective walking experience. From a policy perspective, the findings strengthen the case for traffic removal, and indicate that exposure to high quality urban design that includes some natural elements can offer the same affective benefits offered by large green spaces.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Jun 1, 2018
Journal Journal of Transport and Health
Print ISSN 2214-1413
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 9
Pages 105-116
APA6 Citation Bornioli, A., Parkhurst, G., & Morgan, P. (2018). Psychological wellbeing benefits of simulated exposure to five urban settings: An experimental study from the pedestrian's perspective. Journal of Transport and Health, 9, 105-116.
Keywords walking, affective benefits, psychological wellbeing,
built environment, virtual walk experimental methodology
Publisher URL
Additional Information Additional Information : This is the author's accepted manuscript. The final published version is available here:


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