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31 January 2024 - 31 January 2024

12:00PM - 1:00PM

Online- Zoom

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Extensive literature in environmental psychology is devoted to study of the connections between physical environment and health and wellbeing, including psychological outcomes. A subsection of this literature focuses on ‘restorative environments’, or settings that support psychological recovery from everyday stress and/or demands on attention.

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person going to work

Much of this work stems from study of wilderness experiences in the 1980s (e.g. Kaplan & Talbot 1983), and since then the field has broadly positioned natural environments as more helpful in supporting psychological restoration than urban or built environments (see Hartig & al. 2014, for a review).

Practitioners now draw on this literature to inform nature-based interventions for mental health, including in urban settings (Leavell & al. 2019). In recent years scholars have challenged the ‘natural versus urban’ dichotomy, showing that built settings can also support psychological restoration through experience of, e.g., cultural heritage, streetscapes and leisure areas, and particular architectural elements (Weber & Trojan 2018).

Examination of positive experiences of built environments has also revealed the importance of attachment to place, showing that favourite places and areas that reflect one’s individual or cultural heritage can be perceived and experienced as restorative (Ratcliffe & Korpela 2016, Subiza-Pérez & al. 2021).

In this talk I will present these and related studies, which I have conducted together with international collaborators, and suggest ways in which the findings can be applied to support psychological wellbeing in cities and towns.

Part of the Wolfson Research Institute for Health and Wellbeing Guest Lecture Series 2023/24. An Abstract Booklet featuring all events in this series is available here. 



Hartig, Terry, Richard Mitchell, Sjerp de Vries & Howard Frumkin (2014): Nature and health. In: Annual Review of Public Health 35, 207–228.

Kaplan, Stephen & Janet Frey Talbot (1983): Psychological benefits of a wilderness experience. In: Irwin Altman & Joachim F. Wohlwill (eds.), Behavior and the Natural Environment, New York, 163–203.

Leavell, M. Ashby, Jenn A. Leiferman, Mireia Gascon, Fleur Braddick, J. C. Gonzalez & Jill S. Litt (2019): Nature-based social prescribing in urban settings to improve social connectedness and mental well-being. A review. In: Current Environmental Health Reports 6, 297–308.

Ratcliffe, Eleanor & Kalevi M. Korpela (2016): Memory and place attachment as predictors of imagined restorative perceptions of favourite places. In: Journal of Environmental Psychology 48, 120–130.

Subiza-Pérez, Mikel, Tytti Pasanen, Eleanor Ratcliffe, Kate Lee, Anna Bornioli, Jessica de Bloom & Kalevi M. Korpela (2021): Exploring psychological restoration in favorite indoor and outdoor urban places using a top-down perspective. In: Journal of Environmental Psychology 78, 101706 (

Weber, Anke Maria & Jörg Trojan (2018): The restorative value of the urban environment. A systematic review of the existing literature. In: Environmental Health Insights 12, 297–308.