The Influence of Urban Natural and Built Environments on Physiological and Psychological Measures of Stress–A Pilot Study

Principal Investigator:  Kurt Beil, ND, LAc, MPH

Evidence suggests that natural environments reduce stress more than urban environments.  However much of this research is conducted in controlled laboratory settings with photographic or video images.  Very few studies have attempted to examine how real-world experiences of different environments influence levels of stress.

This cross-over trial investigates the effects of four different environmental settings on physiological and psychological measures of stress. Briefly, participants (N=32) will be exposed to four settings ranked as “Very natural”, “Mostly natural”, “Mostly urban” and “Very urban”. Their stress will be measured by comparing objective salivary markers (cortisol, alpha-amylase, and IgA) and subjective psychological scales before and after exposure.  Participants’ pre-existing level of stress, their familiarity with each setting, and feedback about their experience in each setting will be used in data analysis.  Environmental variables such as ambient temperature and noise will also be measured.  This study will observe the effects of different environmental settings on a person’s level of stress.

Link to paper: