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Exposure to nature improves well-being

09 Nov 2017

A two-week well-being intervention that involves exposure to nature is effective for improving prosocial orientation and net positive affect, according to a recent study.

In the study, 364 undergraduate students (mean age 20.09±4.08 years; 67.6 percent female) were assigned to one of three well-being intervention conditions: business-as-usual controls (n=133), human-built condition (n=110) and nature condition (n=121).

At baseline, there were no significant differences in mean net positive affect (netPA) among the nature (12.10±6.41), human built (11.86±8.30) and control (11.54±8.90) groups (p=0.14).

Posthoc analysis showed that the nature condition resulted in significantly higher netPA than controls (p<0.001) and the human-built condition (p=0.001). There was no significant difference in netPA between the human-built and control conditions (p=0.820).

Similarly, those that went on the nature condition well-being intervention showed significantly higher elevating experiences than those who went to the human-built (p<0.001) and control (p=0.002) conditions.

In terms of general sense of connectedness, the nature condition was significantly better only than the control condition (p=0.002). In contrast, prosocial orientation was significantly improved in the nature condition compared with the human-built condition (p=0.047).

Going to the nature-based well-being intervention did not significantly improve the participants’ sense of meaning and hours spent in nature in the past 2 weeks. Moreover, there were no significant differences between the human-built and control conditions in terms of all well-being measures.

“As predicted, participants in the nature condition reported significantly higher levels of postintervention net positive affect, feelings related to elevation, a general sense of connectedness and a greater prosocial orientation, compared to those in the human-built and control conditions,” said researchers.

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