Design by nature: The influence of windows on cognitive performance and affect

Lauren Sharam, Kaitlin Mayer, Oliver Baumann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


A body of environmental psychology research has demonstrated that the inclusion of natural elements within the built environment, known as biophilic design, can result in improvements in cognition and affect. The current study used two experimental within-subjects studies and virtual reality to examine the impact of window views of nature on affect and cognitive functioning. The first experiment compared the effect of office environments, with either no window or a window view of nature (i.e., trees, blue sky), on performance in commonly used cognitive tasks measuring tonic alertness (i.e. sustained attention), cognitive flexibility, and creativity. The second experiment extended the range of measures, assessing effects of the window with nature-views on phasic alertness, executive attention (i.e. working memory), and self-reported affect. The second study further introduced an additional condition that contained a window with shutters, which allowed for daylight infiltration, while blocking the view of nature. Paired samples t-test analysis revealed that the nature-view condition had a significant positive effect on creative fluency (i.e. quantity of output) but not on the quality of creative responses. Moreover, a Multivariate Analysis of Variance indicated that nature-views significantly enhanced positive affect and reduced negative affect. In contrast, no significant effect of the environment was observed for tonic and phasic alertness, and executive attention (i.e. working memory). These results indicate that affect, and specific cognitive processes, are restored by incorporating biophilic elements into architectural design.
Original languageEnglish
Article number101923
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Environmental Psychology
Early online date6 Dec 2022
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2023


Dive into the research topics of 'Design by nature: The influence of windows on cognitive performance and affect'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this