The influence of planned-change context on evaluations of natural landscapes was examined in an experimental setting. Five landscape photographs, depicting one agrarian landscape and four natural landscapes with varying degrees of human influence, were either presented as `five existing Dutch landscapes', or as `one existing landscape and four plans for nature development from this landscape'. Respondents were asked to evaluate the landscapes from one of three perspectives that matched their own background and interests, i.e. the perspective of a rural resident, the perspective of a cyclist, or a neutral perspective. As predicted, planned-change context negatively affected the perceived beauty of natural landscapes, particularly if landscapes were judged from a user perspective, and if natural landscapes had a low degree of human influence. Planned-change context did not affect relative preferences for natural landscapes in pairwise comparisons with the agrarian landscape. It is concluded that at least part of the beauty perceived in natural landscapes is derived from the knowledge that people bring into their aesthetic judgments.
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