Nature and Attention

William C. Sullivan, Dongying Li

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Our capacity to pay attention—to employ top-down attention by directing our focus toward one idea or task while excluding from our consciousness a host of competing stimuli and thoughts—is key to every human achievement. But top-down attention is a limited resource that fatigues with use. Research demonstrates that having contact with nature, even in otherwise dense urban settings, can restore our ability to focus. Thus, access to natural elements in the form of parks, interconnected green corridors, street trees, rain gardens, green roofs, and green walls do more that provide attractive places for people to live, work, and play. They help people recover from the attentional fatigue that is part of everyday life. In doing so, these landscape elements help us achieve our goals in life. One implication of these findings is that we should redouble our efforts to ensure that we provide nature at every doorstep.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationNature and Psychology
Subtitle of host publicationBiological, Cognitive, Developmental, and Social Pathways to Well-being
EditorsAnne R Schutte, Julia C Torquati, Jeffrey R Stevens
PublisherSpringer Nature
Number of pages24
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-030-69019-9
ISBN (Print)978-3-030-69019-9, 978-3-030-69019-9
StatePublished - 2021

Publication series

NameNebraska Symposium on Motivation
ISSN (Print)0146-7875


  • Attention
  • Green infrastructure
  • Mental fatigue
  • Nature
  • Restoration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology


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