The affective benefits of nature exposure

Citation

Gregory N. Bratman, Hector A. Olvera-Alvarez & James J. Gross (2021). The affective benefits of nature exposure. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, e12630.


Abstract

Mounting evidence demonstrates that nature exposure can have affective benefits. These include behavioral and psychophysiological responses consistent with (a) decreases in stress and negative affect; and (b) increases in subjective well-being and positive affect. What is less clear, however, is what mechanisms are responsible for these effects. In this article, we examine the evidence for affective impacts of nature exposure, consider underlying mechanisms (with a focus on affect regulation), and discuss what might moderate these effects at the individual and population level. We end by pointing to future research directions and practical applications. This includes investigations into the range of effects and duration of their impact, harnessing knowledge about temporal dynamics for insights into causal mechanisms, broadening the discussions around moderators and effect modifications to include diverse perspectives on the relationship between nature exposure and psychological well-being, and integrating findings into existing frameworks from public health.