With so much beautiful art and photography in the world, it’s sometimes hard to choose decor. But if you have to choose between an urban scene, or a natural scene, just know this – research suggests that people feel a little less happy when they are looking at urban images than when they gaze upon nature scenes. These observations were drawn from a study that compared the impact of images such as a walking trail in a forest with a sidewalk scene in a city area. In fact, people who look at pictures of nature not only retain their good mood — they also report more feelings of fascination and “being away” (distracted from their current setting) than when looking at images of the city. The researchers, writing in the February 2018 issue of the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5858369/), comment that this research further supports the restorative quality nature has.
The study had a handful of limitations – and notably did not find a difference between natural or urban scenes on the rumination of study participants. That doesn’t close the door on the question of whether viewing nature might in some way affect rumination (a mental habit of repeatedly thinking about troublesome concerns), and the research team proposed that research along these lines continue.