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Psychological responses to natural patterns in architecture

Coburn, Alexander, Kardan, Omid, Kotabe, Hiroki, Steinberg, Jason, Hout, Michael C., Robbins, Arryn, MacDonald, Justin, Hayn-Leichsenring, Gregor, Berman, Marc G.
Journal of environmental psychology 2019 v.62 pp. 133-145
aesthetics, multidimensional scaling, psychology, variance
In the following experiments, we examined whether perceptions of naturalness in architecture are linked to objective visual patterns, and we investigated how natural patterns influence aesthetic evaluations of architectural scenes. Experiment 1 revealed that visual patterns of architecture explained over half of the variance in scene naturalness ratings. In Experiment 2, aesthetic preference ratings were found to relate closely to natural patterns in architecture. In Experiment 3, participants completed an image arrangement task, and multidimensional scaling (MDS) analysis was performed on the data to determine the underlying dimensions that drove scene similarity judgements. Naturalness and preference ratings both correlated strongly with MDS Dimension 1. We interpreted this dimension as representing latent perceptions of naturalistic aesthetics and found that it mediated the effects of natural patterns on scene preference. Together, these results suggest that naturalistic visual patterns may play an important role in aesthetic evaluations of architectural scenes.