Professor Terry Hartig

Testing restorative environments theory: Gaps and prospects

18 November, 2019
UOW Innovation Campus, North Wollongong

Co-Presenter Professor Thomas Astell-Burt is the Founding Director of the PowerLab and an NHMRC Boosting Dementia Research Leadership Fellow. Thomas will outline some recent news and findings by the PowerLab in the area of population health environmental data science.

Professor Terry Hartig has spent some 35 years studying how environments can help people to recover from efforts to meet the demands of everyday life. This work has most frequently focused on nature as a restorative environment. He has published widely on the experience of nature and health, has presented his work to audiences of scientists, professionals and laypersons in more than 30 countries, and is a frequently cited contributor to the international scientific literature on nature and health. After writing his doctoral dissertation on restorative environments theory at the University of California at Irvine, he completed postdoctoral training in social epidemiology at the University of California at Berkeley. Since 1996 he has worked with the Institute for Housing and Urban Research at Uppsala University, where he holds a professorship in environmental psychology. He is a past recipient of the Vice Chancellor’s International Scholar Award from UOW, and he is happy to return to Wollongong to further his collaboration with his colleagues at the PowerLab.

Seminar Abstract: Since its early days within environmental psychology, research on restorative environments has largely consolidated around a narrative that encompasses two contrasting theories: attention restoration theory, with its emphasis on a cognitive process of restoration, and stress reduction theory, with its emphasis on a psychophysiological process. These theories, separately or together, have provided a basis for many comparisons of the restorative effects of different environments. But how have the core claims of these theories been addressed in experimental operations? In this presentation I will address this question with a view to studies guided by attention restoration theory (ART). Focusing on those experiments covered in recent meta-analyses, I will examine how the restorative process described in ART has been represented in terms of the antecedent condition and underlying components of experience (being away, fascination, extent, and compatibility). The examination has implications for the interpretation of extant findings, preparations for further research, and restorative environments theory more generally.