Social Benefits

Worker attitudes and well beings

Dr. Rachel Kaplan surveyed desk workers about their rate of illness and level of job satisfaction. Some study participants could view nature from their desks, others could not. Those without, when asked about 11 different ailments, claimed 23% more times of illness in the prior six months. Desk workers with a view claimed the following satisfactions more often than their non-view colleagues:

1) found their job more challenging,
2) were less frustrated about tasks and generally more patient,
3) felt greater enthusiasm for the job,
4) reported feelings of higher life satisfaction, and
5) reported better overall health.

Restorative experiences

Many of the tasks of work and study demand directed attention for long periods of time. As we psychologically filter out extraneous information and distractions our minds can become cognitively fatigued. "Directed attention fatigue" can result in feelings of anxiety or stress, irritability with others and an inability to concentrate. Research has shown that brief encounters with nature can aid cognitive fatigue recovery, improving one's capacity to concentrate. Psychologists Rachel and Stephen Kaplan define the characteristics of natural places that are restorative - being away, extent, fascination and compatibility.

Stress reduction

Stress is often talked about but little understood. We do know that constant stress can impact our immune system as well as diminish the ability to cope with challenging situations. Roger Ulrich has done studies that measure the physiological responses of our bodies (such as blood pressure and heart rate) brought on by stress. He has found that people who view nature after stressful situations show reduced physiological stress response, as well as better interest and attention and decreased feelings of fear and anger or aggression. An interesting effect found in recent studies on driving and road stress is called the "immunization effect" — the degree of negative response to a stressful experience is less if a view of nature preceded the stressful situation.

Reduce domestic conflict

Surveys of households in Chicago's public housing have explored the role of trees on household interpersonal dynamics. The housing projects' apartment buildings are nearly identical, differing only in the amount of trees and grass growing around them. Drs. Bill Sullivan and Francis Kuo report that residents living in buildings with trees use more constructive, less violent methods to deal with conflict. Residents with green views report using reasoning more often in conflicts with their children and significantly less use of severe violence. They also report less use of physical violence in conflicts with partners compared to those living in buildings without trees.

Less school aggression

School violence programs help students to control aggressive behavior with training in conflict resolution and peer intervention. Physical environments around a school also appear to play a role. Education scientists at the University of Michigan have found that scenes of neighborhoods with blighted streetscapes are perceived as dangerous and threatening. Those that are more cared for, including tended landscapes, contribute to reduced feelings of fear and violence