Interaction with the natural environment has a vital role in human well-being - physical,
social, spiritual and psychological - and yet in the twenty-first century many people lead a
way of life totally separated from natural environments. Built environments and the increasing
complexity of technological tasks necessitate increased demands for attention and a constant
processing of information. Adaptation to such demands can result in depletion of
psychological resources leading to stress and mental fatigue. Psychological resources must
then be “restored” as they are critical for effective functioning. A review of restorative
environments literature suggests there is further scope for enhancing restorative opportunities.
A hypothetical model of enhanced restoration is proposed. It posits that an individual
assuming a more active role, through raised cognitive awareness and physical encounter in
the person-natural environment interaction will experience enhanced restoration in terms of
restoration of directed attention and reduction of stress. The research hypotheses are tested
using a quantitative field-based pretest-posttest experimental design with a sample of 100
volunteers. Data is collected through computerised objective and subjective measurement
scales of attention and affect. Data is analysed through ANOVA.
The major finding is that posttest scores improved compared to pretest scores in all 3 attention
tests, 2 subjective attention scores and both affect measures, averaged over all 4 intervention
groups. This means that the participants’ directed attention improved and they considered
themselves to be less stressed regardless of the allocated experimental intervention group.
Therefore, the most effective intervention in improving directed attention fatigue and
reducing stress was raising an individual’s level of physical encounter with the natural
Further research is warranted, into the contribution that an individual can make to enhance the
restorative process, and the need for education to raise awareness of the importance of the
natural environment as a valuable (health-care) resource.