THE GREAT OUTDOORS? EXPLORING THE MENTAL HEALTH BENEFITS OF NATURAL ENVIRONMENTS

Article English OPEN
David G. Pearson ; Tony eCraig (2014)
  • Publisher: Frontiers Media S.A.
  • Journal: Frontiers in Psychology, volume 5 (issn: 1664-1078, eissn: 1664-1078)
  • Related identifiers: doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2014.01178, doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2014.01178/full, pmc: PMC4204431
  • Subject: Opinion Article | Natural Environments | cognitive fatigue | perceived restorative properties | Psychology | BF1-990 | Attention Restoration Theory | Health benefits | restorative environments

There is growing evidence to suggest that exposure to natural environments can be associated with mental health benefits. Proximity to greenspace has been associated with lower levels of stress (Thompson et al., 2012) and reduced symptomology for depression and anxiety (Beyer et al., 2014), while interacting with nature can improve cognition for children with attention deficits (Taylor and Kuo, 2009) and individuals with depression (Berman et al., 2012). A recent epidemiological study has shown that people who move to greener urban areas benefit from sustained improvements in their mental health (Alcock et al., 2014). In this paper we critically review evidence indicating that such mental health benefits are associated with the so-called “restorative” properties of natural environments. In particular we focus on the claim that interaction with (or just passive perception of) natural scene content can be linked to the restoration of limited-capacity attentional resources, in comparison to similar exposure to urban or built scene content.
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