Professor in Evolutionary Psychology, Work and Organizational Psychology



Do Natural Landscapes Reduce Future Discounting in Humans?

Van der Wal, A., Krabbendam, A.C., Schade, H., & van Vugt, M. (2013). Do Natural Landscapes Reduce Future Discounting in Humans? Proceedings of the Royal Society-B.



An important barrier to enduring behavioural change is the human tendency

to discount the future. Drawing on evolutionary theories of life history and

biophilia, this study investigates whether exposure to natural versus urban

landscapes affects people’s temporal discount rates. The results of three

studies, two laboratory experiments and a field study, reveal that individual

discount rates are systematically lower after people have been exposed to

scenes of natural environments as opposed to urban environments. Further,

this effect is owing to people placing more value on the future after nature

exposure. The finding that nature exposure reduces future discounting—as

opposed to exposure to urban environments—conveys important implications

for a range of personal and collective outcomes including healthy lifestyles,

sustainable resource use and population growth.

Copyright © 2012– Mark van Vugt