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Psychological Restoration Can Depend on Stimulus-Source Attribution: A Challenge for the Evolutionary Account?

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ABSTRACT

Visiting or viewing nature environments can have restorative psychological effects, while exposure to the built environment typically has less positive effects. A classic view is that this difference in restorative potential of nature and built environments depends on differences in the intrinsic characteristics of the stimuli. In addition, an evolutionary account is often assumed whereby restoration is believed to be a hardwired response to nature’s stimulus-features. Here, we propose the novel hypothesis that the restorative effects of a stimulus do not entirely depend on the stimulus-features per se, but also on the meaning that people assign to the stimulus. Participants conducted cognitively demanding tests prior to and after a brief pause. During the pause, the participants were exposed to an ambiguous sound consisting of pink noise with white noise interspersed. Participants in the “nature sound-source condition” were told that the sound originated from a nature scene with a waterfall; participants in the “industrial sound-source condition” were told that the sound originated from an industrial environment with machinery; and participants in the “control condition” were told nothing about the sound origin. Self-reported mental exhaustion showed that participants in the nature sound-source condition were more psychologically restored after the pause than participants in the industrial sound-source condition. One potential interpretation of the results is that restoration from nature experiences depends on learned, positive associations with nature; not only on hardwired responses shaped by evolution.

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Mean subjective ratings of the sound’s restorative qualities across the three sound-source conditions. Error bars represent standard error of means.
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Figure 1: Mean subjective ratings of the sound’s restorative qualities across the three sound-source conditions. Error bars represent standard error of means.

Mentions: As can be seen in Figure 1, participants in the “nature sound-source” condition rated the sound as being more restorative compared to the other two conditions. This difference between conditions was significant, as indicated by a univariate ANOVA, F(2, 87) = 10.25, p < 0.001, = 0.19. A Tukey HSD post hoc test showed that the mean difference between the “nature sound-source” condition and the “industrial sound-source” condition was significant (Mdiff = 2.24; p < 0.001), as well as the difference between the “nature sound-source” condition and the control condition (Mdiff = 1.21; p = 0.044). The control condition did not differ significantly from the “industrial sound-source” condition (Mdiff = 1.03; p = 0.099).


Psychological Restoration Can Depend on Stimulus-Source Attribution: A Challenge for the Evolutionary Account?
Mean subjective ratings of the sound’s restorative qualities across the three sound-source conditions. Error bars represent standard error of means.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC5120095&req=5

Figure 1: Mean subjective ratings of the sound’s restorative qualities across the three sound-source conditions. Error bars represent standard error of means.
Mentions: As can be seen in Figure 1, participants in the “nature sound-source” condition rated the sound as being more restorative compared to the other two conditions. This difference between conditions was significant, as indicated by a univariate ANOVA, F(2, 87) = 10.25, p < 0.001, = 0.19. A Tukey HSD post hoc test showed that the mean difference between the “nature sound-source” condition and the “industrial sound-source” condition was significant (Mdiff = 2.24; p < 0.001), as well as the difference between the “nature sound-source” condition and the control condition (Mdiff = 1.21; p = 0.044). The control condition did not differ significantly from the “industrial sound-source” condition (Mdiff = 1.03; p = 0.099).

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

ABSTRACT

Visiting or viewing nature environments can have restorative psychological effects, while exposure to the built environment typically has less positive effects. A classic view is that this difference in restorative potential of nature and built environments depends on differences in the intrinsic characteristics of the stimuli. In addition, an evolutionary account is often assumed whereby restoration is believed to be a hardwired response to nature&rsquo;s stimulus-features. Here, we propose the novel hypothesis that the restorative effects of a stimulus do not entirely depend on the stimulus-features per se, but also on the meaning that people assign to the stimulus. Participants conducted cognitively demanding tests prior to and after a brief pause. During the pause, the participants were exposed to an ambiguous sound consisting of pink noise with white noise interspersed. Participants in the &ldquo;nature sound-source condition&rdquo; were told that the sound originated from a nature scene with a waterfall; participants in the &ldquo;industrial sound-source condition&rdquo; were told that the sound originated from an industrial environment with machinery; and participants in the &ldquo;control condition&rdquo; were told nothing about the sound origin. Self-reported mental exhaustion showed that participants in the nature sound-source condition were more psychologically restored after the pause than participants in the industrial sound-source condition. One potential interpretation of the results is that restoration from nature experiences depends on learned, positive associations with nature; not only on hardwired responses shaped by evolution.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus