Characteristics of fascination: Exploring the impact of spatial frequency on attention restoration
Research shows that nature environments restore cognitive processes (e.g., Bourrier et al., 2018; Lee et al., 2015; Ohly et al., 2016; Stevenson et al., 2019). To account for this, Attention Restoration Theory (ART; Kaplan & Kaplan, 1989; Kaplan, 1995; Kaplan & Berman, 2010) proposes that nature environments encompass “softly fascinating” stimuli that captures attention bottom-up, allowing directed attentional resources to restore. The perceptual fluency account (Joye & van den Berg, 2011) argues that natural stimuli are easier to perceive, and this effortless processing leads to enhanced positive affect and broadened attention. Whilst both theories can explain the findings related to cognitive restoration, the mechanisms responsible are not yet understood (Joye & Dewitte, 2018; Schertz & Berman, 2019). In particular it is not clear what makes an environment “softly fascinating” or “perceptually fluent”.
This project will explore the mechanisms associated with fascination by measuring eye movements and pleasantness ratings of a number of nature and urban images. We will also measure attention restoration on the basis of specific image properties. Investigating the characteristics responsible for cognitive restoration will help in the design and promotion of restorative environments.
Funder: Experimental Psychology Society
Team: Dr Catherine Thompson and David Beevers