Effects of Visual Environment on Students’ Adjustment to Stress





Stress, visual quality, environmental psychology, psychological restoration


The impact of stress on visual landscape perception was assessed in a photo-based survey. The survey was first performed when the student participants were expected to be stressed just prior to an important examination. The same students were asked to respond to the same questionnaire a month after the examination when they were expected to have a lower level of stress. Then respondents answered some daily activities, personal study habits, and feelings before an exam. They also provided ratings of how much a selection of environmental factors generally influence their ability to study and their academic success.  In the main perceptual survey reactions to a selection of 22 landscape scenes photos were reported by ratings (1–5) of the extent to which each of six emotions was associated with each scene.  Differences in emotions ratings for the represented landscapes during high-stress and low-stress periods were analyzed by multiple comparison and Pearson correlational methods using the SPSS 17.00 package. Stress tests confirmed higher stress in the first versus second survey and perceptual ratings showed significant statistical differences in emotion ratings between landscape scenes, as well as both main effects and interactions between high stress and low stress conditions. Scene ratings for each emotion were strongly positively correlated between high stress and lower stress conditions. At the same time, respondents generally gave slightly higher ratings for positive emotions -excited, relaxing, happiness-when in the high stress condition and moderately higher ratings for negative emotions -stressed, irritating, scary-, compared to their ratings when tested later under lower stress conditions. This study indicated that stress conditions affect perception, and stressed conditions gave higher emotionality overall than the unstressed condition. In general, in both stressed and unstressed conditions, the students gave the highest scores (>3.4) to convenience and the lowest score (<2) to scary. The main limitations of this study are the large number of environmental factors that influence people's perception. The strongest determiner of emotion ratings was the landscape scenes themselves. Inspection of outliers in the scatter plots and multiple comparisons articulating higher order interactions with stress conditions revealed clear differences in the patterns of emotions ratings, especially for scenes representing water surfaces, open green spaces, and seasonal plant scenes.


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Author Biography

Sevgi Yılmaz, Atatürk University

Sevgi YILMAZ completed her university education B.Sc. and M.LA degree as first distinguished student from the department of Landscape Architecture at Cukurova University in Adana, TÜRKİYE, in 1990. She was a visiting professor at Cornell University from 2004 to 2005. Presently she is working as a Professor at the Architecture and Design Faculty, Department of Landscape Architecture, Atatürk University.


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How to Cite

Yılmaz, S. (2022). Effects of Visual Environment on Students’ Adjustment to Stress. ICONARP International Journal of Architecture and Planning, 10(1), 43–69. https://doi.org/10.15320/ICONARP.2022.193