Exposure to natural environment makes you behave less impulsively

June 15, 2014

Once more for good measure: Exposure to nature is good for you.  This latest study finds that being exposed to a natural environment makes you behave less impulsively — test subjects were more prepared to delay a hypothetical monetary outcome rather than benefit immediately.



The benefits of visual exposure to natural environments for human well-being in areas of stress reduction, mood improvement, and attention restoration are well documented, but the effects of natural environments on impulsive decision-making remain unknown. Impulsive decision-making in delay discounting offers generality, predictive validity, and insight into decision-making related to unhealthy behaviors. The present experiment evaluated differences in such decision-making in humans experiencing visual exposure to one of the following conditions: natural (e.g., mountains), built (e.g., buildings), or control (e.g., triangles) using a delay discounting task that required participants to choose between immediate and delayed hypothetical monetary outcomes. Participants viewed the images before and during the delay discounting task. Participants were less impulsive in the condition providing visual exposure to natural scenes compared to built and geometric scenes. Results suggest that exposure to natural environments results in decreased impulsive decision-making relative to built environments.

Citation: Berry MS, Sweeney MM, Morath J, Odum AL, Jordan KE (2014) The Nature of Impulsivity: Visual Exposure to Natural Environments Decreases Impulsive Decision-Making in a Delay Discounting Task. PLoS ONE 9(5): e97915. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0097915

Comment: As Patrick Cardiff, economist at the US Bureau of Economic Analysis, writes in LinkedIn’s Urban Forestry forum: Duh.  That walking in a forest, etc. has a calming effect on you is well known.  Impulse is opposite to calm. Hence.

Still, it’s yet another facet.