Researchers examined whether participants preferred forest or urban settings when experiencing attentional fatigue and if these settings influenced restoration, recovery and reflection. In the study, college students were divided into two groups, “less fatigued” and “more fatigued”. Participants in the “less fatigued” group did not have any tests or papers due in the next three days and did not have a morning lecture that day. Participants in the “more fatigued” group were students that had finished a 1.5-3 hour class lecture that morning. These two groups were then divided into “forest walk” or “urban walk” groups. The four groups were then tested to see if a one-hour walk in their assigned setting influenced their attentional fatigue restoration, their recovery, and likelihood for reflection. Results indicated that participants preferred walking in the forest to walking in the city. Participants also reported greater recovery and likelihood for reflection during the forest walk than the city walk. The study contends that recreational and residential access to natural environments can improve and promote health among city dwellers.

Full article:

Hartig, T., Staats, H. (2006). The Need for Psychological Restoration as a Determinant of Environmental Preferences. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 26, 215-226.