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Does watching videos with natural scenery restore attentional resources? A critical examination through a pre-registered within-subject experiment.

Hartanto, A., Teo, N. L. A., Tay, K., Lua, V. Y. Q., Chen, N. R. Y., & Majeed, N. M.



Existing studies have shown that direct exposure to a real nature environment has a restorative effect on attentional resources after a mentally fatiguing task. However, it remains unclear whether virtual nature simulations can serve as a substitute for real nature experienced in the outdoors to restore executive attention. Given the mixed findings in the literature, the present study sought to examine if viewing videos with natural scenery (vs. a control with urban scenery) restores participants' working memory capacity - measured by an operation span task - in a high-powered pre-registered within-subject experimental study. Overall, our within-subject experiment did not find any evidence to support the benefit of watching videos with natural scenery on restoration of executive attention. Moreover, the results from our Bayesian analyses further showed substantial support for the null hypothesis. Our study suggests that virtual nature simulations, even with the use of videos, may not be able to replicate the experiences of nature in the outdoors and restore attentional resources.

Keywords: attention restoration; exposure to nature; pre-registered experiment; virtual nature simulations; within-subject design; working memory capacity.

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