This just in from science’s No-Duh Department: Spending time in nature might make you a better person, or at least a nicer one.
A team of University of Rochester psychologists found that increased connection to the natural world could also stimulate healing, lower stress levels, and even influence people to make more altruistic choices in life. Meanwhile, people immersed in city life tended to exhibit self-interested traits like greed and vanity.
To get their results, the scientists conducted three studies where participants were shown slides of either natural landscapes or vast cityscapes. Then, they rated four life goals in order of importance: two related to community and connectedness (“to have deep, enduring relationships” and “to work toward the betterment of society”) and two that were egocentric (“to be financially successful” and “to be admired by many people”).
Get ready for the big surprise: The city folks went for the money and fame, while the nature folks went for the love. Shocker!
From the researchers:
“Nature affords individuals the chance to follow their interests and reduces pressures, fears, introjects and social expectations. “Together, these findings suggest that full contact with nature can have humanizing effects. Our results suggest that, to the extent our links with nature are disrupted, we may also lose some connection with each other.”
This is something most outdoor-centric peeps have known for years, but it’s nice to have some hard numbers the next time some Type-A jerk tries to tell you why hiking sucks. In the meantime, here’s 2,500+ ways to stay nice on our Destinations page.