Until recently, we have all been safe in the knowledge that our thoughts stay in our heads. Well, things have changed, and if you wear a mobile electroencephalograph (EEG), scientists can now access your emotional state.
Aspinall, Mavros, Coyne, and Roe (2013), interested in the relationship between the environment, behaviour, settings and emotions, investigated the emotions a group of walkers experienced on three different walks in Edinburgh (UK):
- An urban shopping street;
- A pathway through green space;
- A street in busy commercial district.
Attention Restoration Theory posits that happiness or the presence of positive emotional mind-sets, broadens an individual’s thought-action repertoire with positive benefits to physical and intellectual activities, and social and physiological resources. It suggests that green spaces and ‘soft fascination’, e.g. looking at clouds and waves, support emotional recovery from stress.
Which is exactly what the results of the research showed. Here is evidence that we should be promoting green spaces as a mood enhancing environment for walking or other forms of physical or reflective activity.