preference; mystery; visual access; danger


Recent studies have found negative correlations between mystery and preference for forest settings. Our reanalysis of earlier data suggested that those findings may have stemmed from a failure to examine setting categories within the forest domain. In the current study of 70 within-forest settings, factor analysis of preference ratings revealed two setting categories corresponding to high- and low-visual-access settings. In the high-access category, preference was positively correlated with mystery but uncorrelated with visual access. In the low-access category, preference was uncorrelated with mystery but positively correlated with visual access. We also examined an expanded definition of mystery that made explicit the distinction between mystery and surprise. The expanded definition produced results identical to the standard definition in the high-access category, but in the low-access category, expanded mystery was positively correlated with preference. We conclude that when properly understood, mystery tends to be positively related to preference.


Original Citation: Herzog, Thomas R., and Anna G. Bryce. "Mystery and Preference in Within-Forest Settings." Environmental and Behavior 39, no. 6 (2007): 779-796.