People more generous, sociable in green surroundings

Last Updated: Apr 20, 2011, 12:50 PM IST

Washington: A walk in a park is more than just a nice way to spend an afternoon -- it makes you more generous and sociable too.

"Through the decades, parks advocates, landscape architects, and popular writers have consistently claimed that nature had healing powers," said Frances `Ming` Kuo, environmental and behaviour researcher at the University of Illinois.

"But until recently, their claims haven`t undergone rigorous scientific assessment," added Kuo, who has studied the effect of green space on humans in a number of settings in order to prove or disprove the folklore notions.

"In greener settings, we find that people are more generous and more sociable. We find stronger neighbourhood social ties and greater sense of community, more mutual trust and willingness to help others," Kuo said.

"Researchers have studied the effects of nature in many different populations, using many forms of nature," Kuo said, according to an Illinois statement.

"They`ve looked at Chicago public housing residents living in high-rises with a tree or two and some grass outside their apartment buildings; college students exposed to slide shows of natural scenes while sitting in a classroom.

"But in the last decade or so, rigorous work on this question has become more of a rule than an exception." After undergoing rigorous scientific scrutiny, Kuo says the benefits of nature still stand.

"Just as rats and other laboratory animals housed in unfit environments undergo systematic breakdowns in healthy, positive patterns of social functioning, so do people," she said.

IANS