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.