According to an increasing amount of evidence, spending time in nature is beneficial to one’s mental health. Getting out in the woods and parks, for example, has been shown to boost happiness and reduce sadness and anxiety symptoms.
Are the advantages, however, universal?
According to a review report, most studies in this sector focus on wealthy, white, western populations, giving experts an inadequate picture of the health advantages. Indigenous populations in South America, according to Carlos Andres Gallegos-Riofro of the University of Vermont’s Gund Institute for Environment, have different interactions with nature than other people, according to his results published in Current Research in Environmental Sustainability.
He believes it is critical to understand how this different relationship affects their mental health. Gallegos-Riofro and colleagues at the University of Vermont looked at 174 peer-reviewed publications from the previous decade and discovered that more than 95 percent of research was done in high-income western countries such as the United States, Europe, and East Asia.
Only 4% of research looked at countries with a medium income, such as India, and no studies looked at low-income countries. Only one study was conducted in Africa, and another in Europe. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with the existing findings, those findings are important,” Rachelle Gould, a researcher at the University of Vermont’s Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources, said. “But we have reason to believe they may not apply to the entire population.”
We need to know which of these effects are universal and which are culturally particular in order for this work to affect sustainable action and lead us toward sustainability.” According to Gould, making this distinction can lead to more equitable policy choices. The research is based on the phrase “weird psychology,” coined by evolutionary biologist Joseph Henrich.
Experiments that focus primarily on college students from western, educated, industrialised, wealthy, and democratic (Weird) sections of the world cannot allow scientists to make universal conclusions about human behaviour.
Henrich, who was not part in the study, remarked, “This research strikingly indicates a large bias in the sample of worldwide populations towards people who are Weird.” “This limits our ability to make broad generalisations about the subject under study.”
Henrich believes that expanding research to include more diverse populations and using culturally sensitive methods tailored to the persons being examined would be beneficial.