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Claire Marian

Marian, C. (2010, May).  Why natural environments restore directed attention: An alternative explanation.
Mentor: Dr. Roger Stanton

Abstract

Previous research has found that exposure to natural environments can restore directed attention abilities.  The primary explanation cited for this effect involves the four component parts of a restorative environment proposed in Kaplan’s Attention Restoration Theory (ART).  The current study assessed the perceived restorative potential of images collected from the St. Mary’s College of Maryland campus through an online survey.  The images rated with the highest and lowest perceived restorative potential were then assessed for their actual ability to restore attention using a Sustained Attention Response Task.  The study also observed what effect length of exposure to an environment has on attention restoration.  Findings indicate that there is a minimum threshold of exposure that must be met to observe attention restoration effects.  I conclude by proposing several alternative explanations for the observed attention restoration effect of natural environments.  These theories bring ART back into the field of cognitive psychology by connecting the effect to previous findings involving visual perception and control of attention.  

 

Read the paper (download the pdf)