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18. The Landscape Encountered While Hiking


The focus of research is on the experienced landscape. This study explores the relationship between the landscape encountered on a walk and the response which it elicits from the viewer. The authors eschew theory and adopt a pragmatic approach to the definition of research parameters. The research encompasses:

  1. the encountered landscape ( views, people and objects seen in situ);
  2. the sequence in which the scenes or objects are encountered;
  3. the feelings, thoughts and other subjective qualities experienced concurrently with these views.

The interaction between the views and objects encountered were examined in relation to mood, satisfaction and scenic beauty appraisal.

MethodologyAt various times during a hike, people were interrupted and instructed to photograph what they were looking at, to rate the scenic beauty of the view, and to report on their current satisfactions and moods. Views were categorised by the type of object that was the focus of attention (trail, vegetation, water, ephemeral, people, terrain) and by the distance of the object from the viewer.

Results suggest that :

  • objects near to the trail (up to 15m) received most attention from participants, although they were not necessarily the most important in affect or pleasure;
  • scenic beauty and landscape preference are enhanced by the presence of ephemeral features, distant views, rugged mountains and water, reflecting the results of other studies;
  • the use of three variables (mood, scenic beauty and satisfaction) did not cover the range of feelings experienced by participants;
  • more similarities than differences were found in what people chose to view whilst hiking.

Although the type and distance of objects in the landscape have a small but significant influence on preference judgements, other factors which influence personal response to landscape remain unexplained.

PublishedEnvironment and Behavior, 27 (3): 404-426
AuthorsHull IV, R. B. and Stewart, W.P.
PublisherSage Publications Inc.
Pricesubscription c. 183 p.a. (6)
Keywordslandscape preference; environmental preference; environmental aesthetics; forest management; cognition and emotion.
CommentsThis study provides a relatively simple method of recording the effects of sequential landscape experience in the field. The research is based on a hybrid of diverse theoretical and practical research. For example, the questionnaire used in the study is based on the work of Russell and Pratt, (1980) Russell and Snodgrass (1987).

Russell, J.A. and Pratt, G. (1980) A description of the effective quality attributed to environments. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 38: 311-322.

Russell, J. and Snodgrass, J. (1987) "Emotion and Environment" in D Stokols and I. Altman (eds) Handbook of environmental psychology. Ch 8, pp245-281, New York: Wiley.