Humans evolved in a natural habitat, and thus, have an innate preference for nature, as stated by the biophilia hypothesis (Wilson, E.O., 1984). Attention Restoration Theory stresses nature's incredible ability to restore ones' mind (Kaplan, S., 1995). Consequently, spending time in nature improves humans' well-being. It is reasonable to assume that nature's benefits could be extended to viewing nature in interior space, referred to as biophilic design (Kellert, 2008). Incorporating nature into interior space is critical for older adults who may no longer be able to experience the outdoors. This study examined the possible effects on seniors from their observation of representational elements of nature (REN) in the interior of senior living communities to determine if they would strengthen their self-perceived connectedness to nature, and therefore, support their self-perceived well-being. This exploratory mixed methods study surveyed 20 residents at a market rate independent senior living community. Individually, participants viewed four pairs of photographs of senior living communities' main public lounges. The four REN variables reviewed were water, fire, natural materials, and botanical motifs. It was found that natural materials, followed by fire, had the most significant influence on seniors' well-being. Findings related to botanical motifs and water's influence on well-being is less clear. Plants, color, and nature-based artwork were also identified as design elements that influenced participants' preference for the lounges shown in the photographs, though not REN variables measured in this study. This exploratory research lays a foundation for future researchers to examine the significance of incorporating REN into interior space occupied by seniors in independent living communities.
University of Minnesota M.S. thesis. Major: Design, Housing and Apparel. Advisor:Caren Martin. 1 computer file (PDF); viii, 178 pages, appendices A-B.
Kieffer, Sheena Marie.
Representational elements of nature's effect on seniors' self-perceived well-being.
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