The Effect of Intentionally Engaging Attention when Viewing Restorative Environments: Exploring Attention Restoration Theory

by Charles E. Jaggard

Institution: Indiana State University
Year: 2015
Keywords: Attention Restoration Theory; Directed Attention; Mental Fatigue; Restorative Environments; Selectivity (Psychology).
Record ID: 2062015
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/10484/5575


Although research exploring Attention Restoration Theory has been extensive, certain procedures for its study seem to be taken as implicit, but require investigation for a deeper understanding and application of both the theory and its underlying processes. This study aimed to answer the questions: “What is the result of engaging directed attention when viewing otherwise restorative environments?” and “Does this intentional engagement have any effect on already fatiguing non-restorative environments?” Participants were asked to complete a task designed to fatigue their directed attentional capacity and then view images of restorative or non-restorative environments, wherein they either were asked to direct their attention to these environments, or were allowed to view them freely. Those viewing restorative environments but asked to direct their attention had significantly lower and even inhibited recovery from Directed Attention Fatigue than participants viewing these environments freely. Additional analyses explored this effect between environments and on a number of subjective measures. Discussion focuses on the role of tasks in the restorative process and the seemingly inherent neutrality or facility of different environments in regards to restoration.