Liked, disliked and unseen forest attributes: relation to modes of viewing and cognitive constructs

J Environ Manage. 2012 Dec 30:113:456-66. doi: 10.1016/j.jenvman.2012.10.014. Epub 2012 Nov 2.


There is broad agreement that in determination of preferences the spatial configurations and content-based properties of the landscape interact with each other and with cognitive constructive. This interaction and how it is influenced by changes in landscape appearance was explored here in a site-specific context where 32 respondents took their own photos of liked and disliked attributes while walking a pre-defined trail of 2 km through a recreational forest landscape with extensive variation in landscape appearance and management regimes. Each respondent provided five photos of features that contributed positively to their landscape experiences and five that contributed negatively and recorded the location and reason in a photo-log, resulting in a total of 320 photos and photo-log pairs. Photos of content-based attributes were more frequent than photos of the landscape's spatial organisation. Photos in the spatial configuration domain were dominated by liked attributes, while the content-based domain was dominated by disliked attributes. Subtle details and ephemera events constituted a large share of the captured content-based attributes, indicating that they are equally important for on-site experience of landscape character and attractiveness as larger landscape elements and their spatial organisation. Closer examination showed marked differences in the relative distribution of spatial and content-based properties between forested and open landscape units. In forested units content-based attributes dominated, while in the open unit photos motivated by the spatial configurations in the implied space dominated. We concluded therefore that changes in depth of the perceptible space alter the relative importance of spatial and content-based properties for people's visual landscape perception, and thus the type of attributes that pass through the individual's perceptual and cognitive filters and become decisive in determining preferences.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cognition
  • Environmental Monitoring / methods*
  • Recreation*
  • Trees*