The Literary Influence 3: Attention Restoration Theory

Pagans are more known for their ‘live in a field’ aspect than that of ‘live in a library’, but camping out amongst the shelves may just find you a gem or two which has influenced pagan critical thinking about how we see the world around us, and how we view the past.

Attention Restoration Theory, which says that direct exposure to nature, viewing nature through windows, and even viewing images of nature are psychologically restorative.  The theory was developed by Rachel and Stephen Kaplan in the 1980’s in their book The experience of nature: A psychological perspective. (although at a hefty current price of £413, I would perhaps invite you not to purchase a copy…)

Put simply, you feel better after spending time in nature. This also extends to looking at nature through windows, or even looking at pictures of nature.

After Kaplan’s initial research was published (which you can find a copy of HERE) a veritable forest of other reports and centres for study also keyed into this simple idea.

The Mind Ecotherapy reports can be found HERE, which concludes that developing future governmental mental health policy should take this theory into account and begin using the positive effects of being in nature to stimulate and restore those with mental health issues.

This theory can be applied to historic environments, as THIS paper shows, learning has often taken place in gardens to help stimulate students in an environment condusive to learning.

The Natural Learning Initiative also looks at the positive benefits of reconnecting people to their environment, as does the Hiking Research Blog, which takes its principal theory from Kaplan’s attention restoration theory.

And just in case you were thinking ‘but I work and don’t have time to get out into nature’, research has been done into making workplaces a healthier and more positive environment.  You can read a synopsis of the paper HERE

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