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Open AccessArticle

Proposing a Framework for the Restorative Effects of Nature through Conditioning: Conditioned Restoration Theory

1
Citizens, Environment and Safety, Institute of Psychology, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, 7048 Trondheim, Norway
2
Faculty of Health and Welfare Sciences, Østfold University College, 1757 Halden, Norway
3
Division of Clinical Neuroscience, Oslo University Hospital, 0450 Oslo, Norway
4
Faculty of Health and Social Sciences, University of South-Eastern Norway, 3045 Drammen, Norway
5
Department of Public Health and Sport Sciences, Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences, 2411 Elverum, Norway
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(18), 6792; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17186792
Received: 31 July 2020 / Revised: 9 September 2020 / Accepted: 15 September 2020 / Published: 17 September 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Green Exercise and Health Promotion)
Natural environments have been shown to trigger psychological and physiological restoration in humans. A new framework regarding natural environments restorative properties is proposed. Conditioned restoration theory builds on a classical conditioning paradigm, postulating the occurrence of four stages: (i) unconditioned restoration, unconditioned positive affective responses reliably occur in a given environment (such as in a natural setting); (ii) restorative conditioning, the positive affective responses become conditioned to the environment; (iii) conditioned restoration, subsequent exposure to the environment, in the absence of the unconditioned stimulus, retrieves the same positive affective responses; and (iv) stimulus generalization, subsequent exposure to associated environmental cues retrieves the same positive affective responses. The process, hypothetically not unique to natural environments, involve the well-documented phenomenon of conditioning, retrieval, and association and relies on evaluative conditioning, classical conditioning, core affect, and conscious expectancy. Empirical findings showing that restoration can occur in non-natural environments and through various sensory stimuli, as well as findings demonstrating that previous negative experience with nature can subsequently lower restorative effects, are also presented in support of the theory. In integration with other existing theories, the theory should prove to be a valuable framework for future research. View Full-Text
Keywords: restorative environments; conditioning; attention restoration theory; stress reduction theory; perceptual fluency account; nature-based recreation; nature exposure restorative environments; conditioning; attention restoration theory; stress reduction theory; perceptual fluency account; nature-based recreation; nature exposure
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MDPI and ACS Style

Egner, L.E.; Sütterlin, S.; Calogiuri, G. Proposing a Framework for the Restorative Effects of Nature through Conditioning: Conditioned Restoration Theory. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17, 6792. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17186792

AMA Style

Egner LE, Sütterlin S, Calogiuri G. Proposing a Framework for the Restorative Effects of Nature through Conditioning: Conditioned Restoration Theory. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2020; 17(18):6792. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17186792

Chicago/Turabian Style

Egner, Lars E.; Sütterlin, Stefan; Calogiuri, Giovanna. 2020. "Proposing a Framework for the Restorative Effects of Nature through Conditioning: Conditioned Restoration Theory" Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 17, no. 18: 6792. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17186792

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