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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Take a hike! : the cognitive effects of exposure to natural and urban environments Bourrier, Stefan Christian


The purpose of this study was to investigate links between attention restoration theory and executive function. A series of four experiments, each using a pre- versus post-test design, studied the influence of various interventions on executive function, as assessed by a backward digit span task and Raven’s progressive matrices. Experiment 1 began by testing the influence of cognitive strategy as manipulated through task instructions. Experiment 2 tested the influence of viewing slides of nature versus urban scenes, as predicted by attention restoration theory (Berman, et al., 2008). Experiment 3 repeated these procedures, using more engaging 10-min video tours of nature versus urban environments. Experiment 4 combined the successful instructional manipulations of Experiment 1 and the video manipulation of Experiment 3 to examine interactions between strategy and environment on executive function. The results showed that the nature video intervention reduced the influence of task instructions relative to the urban intervention. This supports Berman et al. (2008), who claim that exposure to nature has a restorative influence on executive function.

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