New Research: Nature Makes Us Nicer

10/02/2009 04:12 pm ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

New research from the University of Rochester suggests that nature-connection makes us less selfish and helps us care more for each other.

Journalist Tom Jacobs, on the Miller McCune website, reports that a new series of studies by a research team led by psychologist Netta Weinstein suggests that immersion in nature "brings individuals closer to others, whereas human-made environments orient goals toward more selfish or self-interested ends." Jacobs believes "This appears to be the first research to examine the impact of the natural world on people's values and aspirations, and its findings have intriguing implications for architects, designers and urban planners."

I believe this research may have much wider implications!

The researchers tell us that "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 makes sense to me. In modern life humans are like caged animals in the zoo, stressed and unhappy in our nature-disconnected cubicles, tethered to our screens. Our temperaments suffer for it. We become selfish and quarrelsome.

Multiple studies now reveal that once we're reconnected with nature and the natural, slower-paced ways of living that we were evolved to enjoy .... Ahhhhh! This reconnection feels like coming home and can deliver a delicious pleasure that mellows us out. We relax enough to look around, enjoy our surroundings and have kinder, gentler feelings for our fellow humans and the rest of nature.

The implications of this research are profound: modern humans need to consciously re-connect with the rest of nature both for our own health and the health and peace of our communities and our planet.

To read more about this research: