Visual exposure to natural scenes can aid in recovery from stress, attentional fatigue, and physical ailments including surgery and sickness. Yet little is known about what role auditory stimuli may play in restorative processes. The current study extends prior work on the benefit of natural visual scenes to the domain of natural auditory exposure. Undergraduate students (N=133) were exposed to an unsettling video and reliably reported worsened affective state on the Brief Mood Introspection Scale (BMIS) immediately following the stimuli. Participants were then randomly assigned to either a natural sounds condition or to a comparison condition that was natural sounds intermingled with anthropogenic sounds (human voices or motorized vehicles). Participants exposed to a brief period of natural sounds following the video showed greater mood recovery, as measured by the BMIS, than did those exposed to the same stimuli also containing human-caused sounds (voices or motorized vehicles). Thus natural soundscapes can provide restorative benefits independent of those produced by visual stimuli. This evidence suggests potential research avenues for examining the impact of soundscapes on cognition, stress, behavior, and a range of other health-related and well-being-related processes and outcomes.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Social Psychology
- Applied Psychology