Mystery has been implicated as a positive contributor to both environmental preference and perceived danger/fear. We explored the relationships among mystery, danger, and preference as well as between them and two physical features of settings, openness and pathway curvature, in urban alleys and field/forest settings containing pathways. The major finding was that mystery was a positive predictor of both danger and preference even though the latter two variables were negatively related. Mystery, in turn, was positively related to pathway curvature and negatively related to openness. Setting category (alleys versus field/forest) was also a significant predictor of both danger (greater for alleys) and preference (greater for field/forest settings). Free-response data indicated that danger was a more common reaction than mystery for alleys, but the reverse was true for field/forest settings. The results highlight the paradoxical role that variables such as mystery can play in contributing to affective response, depending on the context in which the variables operate.


Original Citation: Herzog, Thomas R., and Edward J. Miller. "The Role of Mystery in Perceived Danger and Environmental Preference." Environment and Behavior 30, no. 4 (1998): 429-449.