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The perception of naturalness correlates with low-level visual features of environmental scenes.

Berman MG, Hout MC, Kardan O, Hunter MR, Yourganov G, Henderson JM, Hanayik T, Karimi H, Jonides J - PLoS ONE (2014)

Bottom Line: Even viewing pictures of nature vs. pictures of built environments can produce similar effects.A major question is: What is it about natural environments that produces these benefits?Our results can be used in future studies to determine if these features, which are related to naturalness, may also lead to the benefits attained from interacting with nature.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Psychology, The University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, United States of America.

ABSTRACT
Previous research has shown that interacting with natural environments vs. more urban or built environments can have salubrious psychological effects, such as improvements in attention and memory. Even viewing pictures of nature vs. pictures of built environments can produce similar effects. A major question is: What is it about natural environments that produces these benefits? Problematically, there are many differing qualities between natural and urban environments, making it difficult to narrow down the dimensions of nature that may lead to these benefits. In this study, we set out to uncover visual features that related to individuals' perceptions of naturalness in images. We quantified naturalness in two ways: first, implicitly using a multidimensional scaling analysis and second, explicitly with direct naturalness ratings. Features that seemed most related to perceptions of naturalness were related to the density of contrast changes in the scene, the density of straight lines in the scene, the average color saturation in the scene and the average hue diversity in the scene. We then trained a machine-learning algorithm to predict whether a scene was perceived as being natural or not based on these low-level visual features and we could do so with 81% accuracy. As such we were able to reliably predict subjective perceptions of naturalness with objective low-level visual features. Our results can be used in future studies to determine if these features, which are related to naturalness, may also lead to the benefits attained from interacting with nature.

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Correlation of Perceived Naturalness with weights on Dimension 1 for the first set and second sets of images.
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pone-0114572-g004: Correlation of Perceived Naturalness with weights on Dimension 1 for the first set and second sets of images.

Mentions: Significant correlations were found between perceived naturalness ratings and weights on dimension 1 for both the first set, r(70) = −.84, p<.0001 and the second set, r(70) = −.75, p<.0001. The scatter plots can be seen in Fig. 4. The correlations are negative because negative weights on dimension 1 indicate more ‘naturalness.’


The perception of naturalness correlates with low-level visual features of environmental scenes.

Berman MG, Hout MC, Kardan O, Hunter MR, Yourganov G, Henderson JM, Hanayik T, Karimi H, Jonides J - PLoS ONE (2014)

Correlation of Perceived Naturalness with weights on Dimension 1 for the first set and second sets of images.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4273965&req=5

pone-0114572-g004: Correlation of Perceived Naturalness with weights on Dimension 1 for the first set and second sets of images.
Mentions: Significant correlations were found between perceived naturalness ratings and weights on dimension 1 for both the first set, r(70) = −.84, p<.0001 and the second set, r(70) = −.75, p<.0001. The scatter plots can be seen in Fig. 4. The correlations are negative because negative weights on dimension 1 indicate more ‘naturalness.’

Bottom Line: Even viewing pictures of nature vs. pictures of built environments can produce similar effects.A major question is: What is it about natural environments that produces these benefits?Our results can be used in future studies to determine if these features, which are related to naturalness, may also lead to the benefits attained from interacting with nature.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Psychology, The University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, United States of America.

ABSTRACT
Previous research has shown that interacting with natural environments vs. more urban or built environments can have salubrious psychological effects, such as improvements in attention and memory. Even viewing pictures of nature vs. pictures of built environments can produce similar effects. A major question is: What is it about natural environments that produces these benefits? Problematically, there are many differing qualities between natural and urban environments, making it difficult to narrow down the dimensions of nature that may lead to these benefits. In this study, we set out to uncover visual features that related to individuals' perceptions of naturalness in images. We quantified naturalness in two ways: first, implicitly using a multidimensional scaling analysis and second, explicitly with direct naturalness ratings. Features that seemed most related to perceptions of naturalness were related to the density of contrast changes in the scene, the density of straight lines in the scene, the average color saturation in the scene and the average hue diversity in the scene. We then trained a machine-learning algorithm to predict whether a scene was perceived as being natural or not based on these low-level visual features and we could do so with 81% accuracy. As such we were able to reliably predict subjective perceptions of naturalness with objective low-level visual features. Our results can be used in future studies to determine if these features, which are related to naturalness, may also lead to the benefits attained from interacting with nature.

Show MeSH
Related in: MedlinePlus