A review of the benefits of nature experiences: more than meets the eye

Franco, Lara S., Shanahan, Danielle F. and Fuller, Richard A. (2017) A review of the benefits of nature experiences: more than meets the eye. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 14 8: . doi:10.3390/ijerph14080864


Author Franco, Lara S.
Shanahan, Danielle F.
Fuller, Richard A.
Title A review of the benefits of nature experiences: more than meets the eye
Journal name International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1660-4601
1661-7827
Publication date 2017-08-01
Year available 2017
Sub-type Critical review of research, literature review, critical commentary
DOI 10.3390/ijerph14080864
Open Access Status DOI
Volume 14
Issue 8
Total pages 29
Place of publication Basel, Switzerland
Publisher MDPI AG
Language eng
Abstract Evidence that experiences of nature can benefit people has accumulated rapidly. Yet perhaps because of the domination of the visual sense in humans, most research has focused on the visual aspects of nature experiences. However, humans are multisensory, and it seems likely that many benefits are delivered through the non-visual senses and these are potentially avenues through which a physiological mechanism could occur. Here we review the evidence around these lesser studied sensory pathways—through sound, smell, taste, touch, and three non-sensory pathways. Natural sounds and smells underpin experiences of nature for many people, and this may well be rooted in evolutionary psychology. Tactile experiences of nature, particularly beyond animal petting, are understudied yet potentially fundamentally important. Tastes of nature, through growing and consuming natural foods, have been linked with a range of health and well-being benefits. Beyond the five senses, evidence is emerging for other non-visual pathways for nature experiences to be effective. These include ingestion or inhalation of phytoncides, negative air ions and microbes. We conclude that (i) these non-visual avenues are potentially important for delivering benefits from nature experiences; (ii) the evidence base is relatively weak and often based on correlational studies; and (iii) deeper exploration of these sensory and non-sensory avenues is needed.
Keyword Sensory
Nature benefits
Nature experience
Wellbeing
Nature therapy
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Critical review of research, literature review, critical commentary
Collections: HERDC Pre-Audit
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