The effects of individual factors and psychological instructions on sustained attention and affect during a nature walk
Jumisko, Satu (2018)
Psykologian tutkinto-ohjelma - Degree Programme in Psychology
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The purpose of this study was to discover whether three individual factors: gender, age and nature relatedness, and psychological instructions on a nature walk have an effect on the change in sustained attention and affect. Also, the connection of the variables representing two theories, ART (attention) and SRT (affect), was studied. The research was conducted in the summer of 2017 and was a part of a project called Restowalk funded by Kone Foundation. Originally, there were 122 participants, most were women (86 %), aged 18-63. The nature walk took place in a well-maintained urban park. The participants followed a pre-defined path and the psychological instructions on a smartphone. They were divided into three groups. One group received instructions related to restoration, one related to imagination-based instructions and one did not receive any instructions. Before and after the walk the participants completed a sustained attention test (SART) and a self-assessment on affect (Affect Grid). Hierarchical multiple regression analysis was used to study the influence of the psychological instructions and individual factors on the changes in sustained attention and affect. The correlations between the sustained attention variables and affect were studied using Pearson correlation coefficient. It was discovered that the instructions had no effect on the changes in sustained attention or affect. Gender and age were connected to one dimension of affect, pleasure. The younger the person, the more increase in pleasure. This was also the case with women as there was more positive change for them in pleasure compared to men. Gender, age and nature relatedness had no effect on the arousal dimension of affect. Nature relatedness had an effect on the change in sustained attention. Altogether, the ones who reported more nature relatedness did worse in the sustained attention test after the walk than the participants who reported less nature relatedness. More nature related participants had less positive change in the sustained attention test compared to less nature related participants. However, it was discovered that this difference did not appear in SART before the walk. As it comes to the connection between sustained attention and affect, statistically significant correlations were found between pleasure and attention but for the arousal dimension of affect no significant correlations were found. Thus, based on this study, no conclusions on the connections between the underlying mechanisms of ART and SRT can be drawn. Further research is encouraged on the influence of psychological instructions on attention and affect along a nature trail, the connections between nature relatedness and attention and the connections between ART and SRT.