Armyanskii ln., 4-2, Moscow, 101000, Russia


Olga Kaptsevich1
  • 1 Far Eastern Federal University, 8 Sukhanov Str., Vladivostok, 690091, Russian Federation

Psychological Effects of Urban Environment Visual Perception: A Systematic Review

2021. Vol. 18. No. 3. P. 575–597 [issue contents]
The article aims to summarize results of existing empirical research revealing psychological effects of human interaction with different kinds of visual environment found in modern cities. Analysis of research carried out in the field of Environmental Psychology over the past 50 years allows us to make a number of generalizations. Firstly, a large number of comparative studies reveal more favorable influence of nature perception compared to the built environment perception. Such influence is manifested in the cognitive, affective, personal and interpersonal domains. Secondly, the evidence is summarized that different types of built environment can also cause different psychological effects: buildings with elements of ornamentation and detailing, low-rise, imitating nature, evoking historical semantic connotations, can have a favorable effect on the emotional and cognitive domain of the perceiver. Thirdly, a large number of studies are aimed at identifying the restorative potential of different environments: environmental factors of attentional, affective restoration and stress-recovery are studied. Positive effects of visual environment beyond restoration are less studied. Fourth, most modern research is focused on identifying bottom-up factors of the environment perception – objective physical qualities of environment (detailing, number of floors, fractal structure, complexity, openness, etc.). At the same time, the role of top-down influences — semantic characteristics of the perceived environment, the attitudes of the observer and his initial state, which can have a significant impact on the effects of environment perception, is often overlooked. The importance of taking into account the joint action of bottom-up and top-down factors in understanding the true causes of the detected effects of environment perception is indicated. The analysis made it possible to systematize a wide range of influences of the visual environment of the city on psychological characteristics of a person. It is proposed to classify all the facts under consideration on several bases: objective (physical characteristics of the environment: natural and built environment), subjective (specifics of the subject's perception of environment: bottom-up and top-down processes) and methodological (objective and subjective methods of obtaining the data). Possible ways of improving visual environment of the city in the direction of its more favorable impact on psychological functioning of the individual are outlined.

Citation: Kaptsevich O. (2021) Psikhologicheskie effekty vizual'nogo vospriyatiya gorodskoy sredy: sistematicheskiy obzor [Psychological Effects of Urban Environment Visual Perception: A Systematic Review]. Psychology. Journal of Higher School of Economics, vol. 18, no 3, pp. 575-579 (in Russian)
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