Acoustic-visual environments and mental health

Journal Artical

Impacts of sights and sounds on anxiety relief in the high-density city

Landscape and Urban Planning, 2023, IF= 8.119

Anxiety is one of the most common mental health disorders in the world . Although acoustic and visual envi- ronments are known to influence many other aspects of mental health, we know little about their independent and interactive effects on the levels of anxiety of high-density city dwellers. We conducted a laboratory exper- iment using a two-way factorial design (four visual environments × five acoustic environments) and randomly assigned participants to 20 treatment conditions. Before exposure to a condition, they engaged in the Trier Social Stress Test to induce a moderate level of anxiety. A total of 223 urban dwellers reported their anxiety level before and after a randomly assigned environmental treatment. The results showed that acoustic and visual environ- ments had significantly interactive influence on anxiety relief. The impact of acoustic environments on anxiety relief w as 4.67 times greater than the impact of visual environments. Environments with more natural features, regardless of whether they were acoustic or visual, played a greater role in reducing anxiety than environments with more artificial features. T he combination of green scenes and fully natural sounds gave a significantly greater anxiety relief than any other acoustic-visual environments. The implications of these results for planning and design in high-density cities are discussed.

Impacts of nature and built acoustic-visual environments on human’s multidimensional mood states: A cross-continent experiment

Journal of Environmental Psychology, 2021, IF= 7.649

New and complex acoustic-visual environments are emerging in contemporary high density cities. The independent and interactive effects of acoustic and visual environments on human’s mood states have been rarely investigated in that context. This study examined the extent to which 12 pairs of four acoustic environments and three visual environments influence multiple-dimensional mood states, including emotion, attention, and stress. Sixty-eight local participants from Illinois, USA, and 69 nonlocal participants from Hong Kong SAR, China, were randomly assigned to watch and listen to one of 12 videos. The participants’ mood states were measured before and after the exposure. Two-way ANOVA analysis controlling for baseline mood and gender, and pairwise comparisons yield four major findings after. First, the acoustic and visual environments have significant independent and interactive effects on mood states. Second, the acoustic environments have stronger effects on mood states than the visual environments. Third, in general, effects of acoustic-visual environments are more positive and stronger for local participants than for nonlocal participants. Fourth, evidence suggests a universal restorative effect that grows from exposure to natural acoustic-visual environments. This study provides new and specific evidence to support planning and design of healthy high-density cities.