Mental health benefits of nature, green and blue spaces, and being outdoors

Spring; May 3, 2020; Iowa, USA
Spring, May 3, 2020; Iowa, USA

White, M. P., Pahl, S., Ashbullby, K., Herbert, S., & Depledge, M. H. (2013). Feelings of restoration from recent nature visits. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 35, 40-51. [Cited by]

Exposure to natural environments can help restore depleted emotional and cognitive resources. However, investigation of the relative impacts of different natural environments among large samples is limited. Using data from 4255 respondents drawn from Natural England’s Monitoring Engagement with the Natural Environment survey (2009–2011), we investigated feelings of restoration (calm, relaxed, revitalized and refreshed) recalled by individuals after visits to different natural environments within the last week. Controlling for demographic and visit characteristics we found that of the broad environmental categories, coastal visits were associated with the most restoration and town and urban parks with the least. In terms of specific environmental types two “green space” locations (woodlands/forests and hills/moorland/mountains) were associated with levels of restoration comparable to coastal locations. Urban playing fields were associated with the least restoration. Restoration was positively associated with visit duration (a potential dose–response effect), and visits with children were associated with less restoration than visits alone. There was little evidence that different activities (e.g. walking, exercising) were associated with differences in restoration. The data may improve our understanding of the “cultural eco-system services” provided by different natural environments and help decision makers keen to invest scare resources in those environments most associated with psychological benefits.”

Crab apple; May 3, 2020; Iowa, USA
Crab apple; May 3, 2020; Iowa, USA

Zhang, J. W., Piff, P. K., Iyer, R., Koleva, S., & Keltner, D. (2014). An occasion for unselfing: Beautiful nature leads to prosociality. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 37, 61-72. [PDF] [Cited by]

Past studies have documented interpersonal benefits of natural environments. Across four studies, we tested the hypothesis that exposure to more beautiful nature, relative to less beautiful nature, increases prosocial behavior. Study 1 yielded correlational evidence indicating that participants prone to perceiving natural beauty reported greater prosocial tendencies, as measured by agreeableness, perspective taking, and empathy. In Studies 2 and 3, exposure to more beautiful images of nature (versus less beautiful images of nature) led participants to be more generous and trusting. In Study 4, exposure to more beautiful (versus less beautiful) plants in the laboratory room led participants to exhibit increased helping behavior. Across studies, we provide evidence that positive emotions and tendencies to perceive natural beauty mediate and moderate the association between beauty and prosociality. The current studies extend past research by demonstrating the unique prosocial benefits of beautiful nature.”

Questions?  Please let me know (engelk@grinnell.edu).

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