Historical and contemporary accounts suggest that natural elements can facilitate creativity in one's work. Despite this potential connection, researchers have largely overlooked how nature may enhance employees’ creativity, an oversight that takes on additional meaningfulness in light of increasing investments by organizations in work designs that bring employees in contact with nature. In this paper, we draw from attention restoration theory (ART) to develop a model explaining how contact with nature at work may affect employee creativity—via broader cognitive processing. In addition, we follow the guidance of ART to deepen our understanding of for whom the creativity-generating effects of nature will be most impactful. Specifically, we describe how employees with high levels of openness to experience are particularly primed to experience expanded cognitive processing due to contact with nature at work. We test this model using a mixed-method research approach: two online experiments in the United States (Studies 1 and 2); two multiwave, multisource field studies in Taiwan and Indonesia (Studies 3 and 4), and an experience-sampling field study in Canada (Study 5).
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© The Author(s) 2023.
- contact with nature
- cognitive processing
- attention restoration theory