Nature Makes Us Nicer People, New Study Says

forest nature photo

Photo via tinken via Flickr CC

Don't disregard those wall calendars showing far-off nature scenes quite yet. It just might make you a more caring, community-oriented, and generous person. A new study by the University of Rochester found that after looking at nature scenes, people feel closer to their community, are willing to give more money to a charitable cause, and care more about social outcomes than they are after looking at man-made scenes. The reason, the researchers state, it communing with nature helps people also commune with their basic values.

The University of Rochester reports what we all have been savvy to for awhile now, that seeing naturescapes helps reduces stress, and even having a window in a hospital room helps people recover more quickly. "While the salubrious effects of nature are well documented... this study shows that the benefits extend to a person's values and actions. Exposure to natural as opposed to man-made environments leads people to value community and close relationships and to be more generous with money," find [Richard] Ryan and his team of researchers at the University of Rochester.

From experiments including 370 participants, the results show that after viewing urban settings or natural settings, people exposed to natural settings rated close relationships and community higher than they had before seeing the scenes, whereas after viewing urban settings, people placed more value on wealth and fame. Additionally, those who viewed nature scenes were more likely to give higher amounts of money to a good cause.

"Lead author Netta Weinstein says that the findings highlight the importance of creating green spaces in cities and have implication for planners and architects. Incorporating parks and other representations of nature into urban environments may help build a stronger sense of community among residents, she explains. By contrast, "to the extent that our links with nature are disrupted, we may also lose some connection with each other," the authors warn."

If it is the case that being around and seeing nature makes us more people-oriented and generous, perhaps we should flood the offices of Copenhagen delegates with plants, scenes from natural settings, and earthy furniture so that they're really ready to negotiate with the future of the planet front and center.

Need to see some nature now? Check out this slideshow of 20 Wild Spaces for Getting Back to Nature - It'll make you a nicer person.

Via University of Rochester, via PhysOrg
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