Cities, Nature, and Mental Health

Is a walk in the woods good for you?  It used to be a part of everyday life for people all over the world, but as civilization has progressed and people mostly live in urban areas, contact with nature has become much less common.  Prior research has indicated that visiting natural environments can lower stress hormones, while a lack of green space is associated with more psychological problems.  A recent study by a graduate student at Stanford University designed a novel experiment to test the consequences of exposure to nature on brain functioning.  Gregory Bratman decided to test the effect of a walk in the woods on brain activity and feelings found that it calmed their brains and improved their feelings of mental health, compared to those who walked along a highway.

Read more about it and watch the video at:

How would you diagram the design of Bratman’s experiment? Does it meet the criteria for a true experiment?

Do you think a measure of brain activity helps to understand the causal mechanism by which the walk in the woods had an apparent effect?

After watching the video, consider how you could extend this research with a mixed methods design?  What might you be able to pick up with qualitative methods that might be missed with the quantitative methods in the original study?

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