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 ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year : 2017  |  Volume : 19  |  Issue : 87  |  Page : 65--72

Effects of Soundscape on the Environmental Restoration in Urban Natural Environments


1 School of Architecture and Urban Planning, Shenyang Jianzhu University, Shenyang, China; School of Architecture, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK
2 School of Architecture, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK; School of Architecture, Harbin Institute of Technology, Harbin, China
3 Oxford University Medical School, John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford, UK

Correspondence Address:
Jian Kang
School of Architecture, Arts Tower, The University of Sheffield, Western Bank, Sheffield S10 2TN, UK

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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/nah.NAH_73_16

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Context: According to the attention restoration theory, directed attention is a limited physiological resource and is susceptible to fatigue by overuse. Natural environments are a healthy resource, which allows and promotes the restoration of individuals within it from their state of directed attention fatigue. This process is called the environmental restoration on individuals, and it is affected both positively and negatively by environmental factors. Aims: By considering the relationship among the three components of soundscape, that is, people, sound and the environment, this study aims to explore the effects of soundscape on the environmental restoration in urban natural environments. Materials and Methods: A field experiment was conducted with 70 participants (four groups) in an urban natural environment (Shenyang, China). Directed attention was first depleted with a 50-min ‘consumption’ phase, followed by a baseline measurement of attention level. Three groups then engaged in 40 min of restoration in the respective environments with similar visual surroundings but with different sounds present, after which attention levels were re-tested. The fourth group did not undergo restoration and was immediately re-tested. The difference between the two test scores, corrected for the practice effect, represents the attention restoration of individuals exposed to the respective environments. Statistical Analysis Used: An analysis of variance was performed, demonstrating that the differences between the mean values for each group were statistically significant [sig. = 0.027 (<0.050)]. Results: The results showed that the mean values (confidence interval of 95%) of each group are as follows: ‘natural sounds group’ (8.4), ‘traffic sounds group’ (2.4) and ‘machine sounds group’ (−1.8). Conclusion: It can be concluded that (1) urban natural environments, with natural sounds, have a positive effect on the restoration of an individuals’ attention and (2) the presence of different types of sounds has significantly divergent effects on the environmental restoration.






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