The impact of narratives on the experience of urban and natural environments.
(University of Wageningen)
Paper short abstract:
The paper presents results of research on the impact of narratives on the perceived restorative qualities, attractiveness and interestingness of a Dutch lowland landscape and a contemporary urban environment.
Paper long abstract:
Improved negative mood states, improved cognitive functioning, physiological signs of stress reduction are some of the reported restorative effects following exposure to natural, but not to urban environments. In our study we discovered that a well-designed and attractive urban environment may have a stress-reducing and mood-enhancing power equal to that of an attractive natural environment. Another issue we explored was the impact of a narrative on perceived restorative qualities, attractiveness and interestingness of the environment. The impact of narratives on the experiential qualities of tourist destinations is an important theme in tourism research as tourist destinations have traditionally been endorsed by narratives to appeal to the tourists' imagination. We constructed competitive narrative representations for both natural and urban environments and assessed their impact on the perception of the environments. Both narratives were almost exactly the same, the one having positive and the other negative overtones. We found that the addition of a 'positive' version of the narrative to a natural and an urban environment resulted into a 25 percent increase in interestingness and a 14 percent increase in attractiveness ratings, while the addition of a 'negative' version of the narrative resulted in a 15 percent decrease in interestingness and a 17 percent decrease in attractiveness ratings. These figures are calculated against the ratings of the version of the video without a commentary. Capitalizing on the strength of our findings we can speculate about the potential impact of narrative framing in terms of the power it extends or takes away in the process of the narrative construction of spaces.
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Tourism and landscape narratives