Exposure to Restorative Environments

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Three experiments were designed to test the hypothesis that exposure to restorative environments facilitates recovery from mental fatigue. To this end, participants were first mentally fatigued by performing a sustained attention test; then they viewed photographs of restorative environments, nonrestorative environments or geometrical patterns; and finally they performed the sustained attention test again. Only participants exposed to the restorative environments improved their performance on the final attention test, and this improvement occurred whether they viewed the scenes in the standardized time condition or in the self-paced time condition. Results are in agreement with Kaplan’s [(1995). The restorative benefits of nature: Toward an integrative framework. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 15, 169–182] attention restoration theory, and support the idea that restorative environments help maintain and restore the capacity to direct attention.