, Volume 12, Issue 4, pp 354-356

Rated preference and complexity for natural and urban visual material


In order (1) to study the relationship between complexity and preference for slides of the physical environment and (2) to test the hypothesis that the content of slides (in particular, whether nature or urban) will influence preference, independent of the rated complexity, 88 Ss were asked to rate 56 slides, both for preference and for complexity. Based on dimensional analyses, a nature and an urban dimension were identified. Three major results were obtained: (1) Nature scenes were greatly preferred to urban scenes (p < .001). (2) Complexity predicted preference within the nature domain (r = .69) and within the urban domain (r = .78). (3) Complexity did not account for the preference for nature over urban slides; the greatly preferred nature slides were, in fact, judged on the average less complex than the urban slides. The possibility is raised that the domain-specific character of the preference/complexity relationship found in this study may be general; that is, it may not be a special property of environmentally generated arrays.

This study is based on an honors thesis by J.S.W. The research was supported in part by the Forest Service. U.S. Department of Agriculture. We are grateful to Father Joseph Voor and Roger Peters for taking the photographs used in this study.