ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

Advances in Psychological Science ›› 2016, Vol. 24 ›› Issue (2): 270-281.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2016.00270

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Far from the “madding crowd”: The positive effects of nature, theories and applications

CHEN Xiao1,2; WANG Bo1,2; ZHANG Bao1   

  1. (1 School of Education, Beijing Normal University Zhuhai Campus, Zhuhai 519087, China)
    (2 Pro-Nature Education and Research Center, Beijing Normal University Zhuhai Campus, Zhuhai 519087, China)
  • Received:2015-06-16 Online:2016-02-15 Published:2016-02-15
  • Contact: CHEN Xiao, E-mail:


Most of the history of human evolution took place in natural environment. Nature played an important role on human physical and psychological health, cognitive function, and other aspects. Three theories explained the underlying mechanism behind: Biophilia Hypothesis stated that the tendency for interaction with nature was hereditary and promoted human health and happiness; The Attention Restoration Theory stated that the involuntary attention used in natural settings could replenished the voluntary attention fatigue; The Stress Recovery Theory stated that exposure to nature invoked positive emotion, which might resulted in psycho-physiological stress recovery. Practical applications included Horticultural Therapy and Natural Environments Therapy. In the future, other psychological theories could be used to explain the effects of nature. Future research could investigate the differential effects between real nature interaction and virtual nature interaction. Research could also investigate the effects exposure to nature through other sensory channels beyond vision. Research in cognitive neuroscience could provide a better understanding of the neural mechanisms behind human nature interaction.

Key words: nature, biophilia hypothesis, attention restoration theory, stress recovery theory, horticultural therapy, natural environments therapy