Data for: Trees, grass or concrete? Influence of different types of environments on stress reduction
Despite studies on how natural environments affect human health and well-being, few have focused on how various types of vegetation affect people’s physiological and psychological well-being. To identify the restorative effects of different types of vegetation (i.e., trees and grass) in virtual environments on individuals, we designed and conducted a randomized controlled experiment with 90 university students. After participants took a math test amid noise for 5 min to induce stress, we randomly assigned each to one of three virtual reality environments (i.e., grass, trees, and concrete/gray) that we designed and in which they were immersed for 10 min. We measured skin conductance level throughout the test and immersion as well as positive and negative affect before the test, before immersion, and after immersion. Results of repeated measures analysis of variance with a general linear model comparing the restorative effects of the environmental treatments indicated that the grass environment improved positive affect better than the trees and gray environments. We also found that environments with natural elements had a stronger restorative effect than the gray environment, which confirms theory contending that unlearned factors of evolutionary origin influence affective responses to environments. Our findings provide valuable evidence that can guide the practical landscape planning and design of restorative environments for the public.