Mind hiking

Published on December 16th, 2012 | by No Artificial

Being In Nature May Increase Your Creativity

Do you ever feel like you can’t come up with new creative ideas anymore? Consider taking a hike.

A new study by psychologists from the University of Utah and University of Kansas shows that spending four nature-filled days, away from electronic devices, such as cell phones or laptops, is linked with 50 percent higher scores on a test for creativity.

The study led by David Strayer, a psychology professor at the University of Utah and University of Kansas psychologists Ruth Ann Atchley and Paul Atchley was just published in the online journal PLOS ONE . It included 56 volunteers (30 men and 26 women) with an average age of 28 to go on four- to six-day wilderness backpacking trips. The hikes were led by Outward Bound schools in Alaska, Washington state, Colorado and Maine. The participants were not permitted to bring along electronic devices of any kind.

A 10-question test created to calculate creativity was given to 24 of the hikers on the morning before they set out on their treks. The other 32 hikers took the test on the morning of their fourth day in the wilds.

The hikers who were tested after backpacking for several days scored 50 percent better on the test than those who took the test at the beginning of the trip, before they’d had the opportunity to be immersed in nature.

“Our results demonstrate that there is a cognitive advantage to be realized if we spend time immersed in a natural setting,” the study’s authors wrote in the statement.

“This is a way of showing that interacting with nature has real, measurable benefits to creative problem-solving that really hadn’t been formally demonstrated before,” David Strayer explained.
“It provides a rationale for trying to understand what is a healthy way to interact in the world, and that burying yourself in front of a computer 24/7 may have costs that can be remediated by taking a hike in nature.”

The research team stated that their study wasn’t designed to “determine if the effects are due to
an increased exposure to nature, a decreased exposure to technology or the combined influence of these two factors.” However, plenty of past research confirms the idea that it is nature that has beneficial and creativity-boosting effects. For example, previous studies have shown that being in nature is able to boost “executive attention,” which is the ability to switch among tasks, stay on task and inhibit distracting actions and thoughts.

Furthermore, a study, published in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, proved that seeing the color green before being given a creative prompt yielded more imaginative answers than seeing the color white before the prompt.

Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin

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