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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2022

Exploring the influence of the visual attributes of Kaplan’s preference matrix in the assessment of urban parks: A discrete choice analysis

Shayestefar, Marjan; Pazhouhanfar, Mahdieh; van Oel, Clarine; Grahn, Patrik;


A significant majority of the literature on natural environments and urban green spaces
justifies the preferences that people have for natural environments using four predictors defined by
Kaplan’s preference matrix theory, namely coherence, legibility, complexity, and mystery. However,
there are no studies implicitly focusing on the visual attributes assigned to each of these four
predictors. Thus, the aim of this study was to explore the influence of nine visual attributes derived
from the four predictors of Kaplan’s matrix on people’s preferences in the context of urban parks. A
discrete choice experiment was used to obtain responses from a sample of 396 students of Golestan
University. Students randomly evaluated their preferences towards a set of potential scenarios
with urban park images. The results of a random parameter logit analysis showed that all of the
attributes of complexity (variety of elements, number of colors, and organization of elements) and
one attribute each of coherence (uniformity), mystery (visual access), and legibility (distinctive
elements) affect students’ choices for urban parks, while one attribute each of mystery (physical
access) and legibility (wayfinding) did not affect the choices. Furthermore, the results indicated a
preference for heterogeneity of the attributes. The findings of this study can provide instructions for
designing parks.

Published in


2022, volume: 14, article number: 7357

Authors' information

Shayestefar, Marjan
Golestan University
Pazhouhanfar, Mahdieh
Golestan University
van Oel, Clarine
Delft University of Technology
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of People and Society

Associated SLU-program

Future Urban Sustainable Environment (FUSE) (until Jan 2017)
Built environment
SLU Future One Health
SLU Urban Futures

Sustainable Development Goals

SDG11 Sustainable cities and communities
SDG3 Good health and wellbeing

UKÄ Subject classification

Landscape Architecture
Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology

Publication Identifiers


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