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Good Medicine, A Stroll In the Park


Allan Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D.


In our rushed and busy lives who has time to contemplate nature? We live in big urban centers, rush to work, rush home to do household chores and many of us even go to a second job in order to pay the bills and have some extra money.


A study, just published in Psychological Science, reported on a piece of research conducted at the University of Michigan. In the study, subjects were asked to study numbers which they had to remember and repeat backwards sometime later. They were then asked to participate in one of two activities. Some of the subjects walked through an arboretum while others walked through city streets. What were the results of the study?


You probably guessed that the students who walked through the arboretum performed better on the memory test than those who walked through city streets. In fact, in another experiment, even those who viewed pictures of nature versus pictures of urban centers performed better on memory tests. Why?


The explanation seems to go back to that early psychological writer, William James. He theorized that there are two types of attention, “involuntary attention,” and “directed attention.”


In directed attention, a lot of effort is put into doing a task such as memorizing numbers in the experiment. Involuntary attention is relaxed as exemplified by the walk in the arboretum. The participants rated the experience as very pleasant as opposed to those who walked through city streets.


Read Article in Full:   http://www.mentalhelp.net/poc/view_doc.php?type=doc&id=30722&cn=117



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