Want to Be More Creative? Get Immersed in the Nature!

Nowadays many people spend lots of time indoor. Different social medias are taking away our opportunities to go out and explore the nature. Today’s children only spend around 20 minutes per day outside and this time continues to drop. The number of visits in both national parks and nature-based recreation has decline since 1980s. The modern life we are living now is much better than the one our ancestors had, but are we not missing out the benefits the beautiful nature might give us?

The study by Strayer and University of Kansas psychologists Ruth Ann Atchley and Paul Atchley has shown that immersion in natural settings could improve creativity. The study involved 56 people, with 30 men and 26 women at an average age of 28. These study objects were divided into 8 different groups to participate in hiking trips without any technology from 4 days to 6 days in Alaska, Colorado, Maine and Washington state. Among these 8 groups, 4 groups (pre-hike groups) took a 10-item creativity test the morning before the trip and the other 4 groups (in-hike groups) took the same test the morning of the fourth day. The in-hike groups had a much higher average score on the test – they got a 6.08 compared to a 4.14. There are actually two factors in this experiment – nature and technology. There is no direct evidence to determine whether the study objects’ problem solving ability is improved by the increased exposure to nature or decreased exposure to technology. However, the researchers believe that these two factors are strongly interrelated to each other that they are often seen as two sides of a coin.

It does not matter whether nature immersion experience directly or indirectly, by reduce use of technology, affects one’s creativity. What really matters is that we need to understand how important it is for us to connect with the nature. Richard Louv, the author of Last Child in the Woods and The Natural Principle, believes that connection to nature should be seen as a human right. I agree with him. I think today we are trying so hard to draw the line between nature and the human society but we forget the fact that we are also part of nature. I really appreciate the opportunities like hiking in the desert or sitting in the woods for twenty minutes. It helps me to feel connected to the nature.

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Trekking in Wadi Rum, Jordan

 

Bibliography

 

Atchley RA, Strayer DL, Atchley P (2012) Creativity in the Wild: Improving Creative Reasoning through Immersion in Natural Settings. PLoS ONE 7(12): e51474. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0051474

Howard, Brian Clark, ed. “Connecting With Nature Boosts Creativity and Health.” National Geographic. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Sept. 2014. <http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2013/06/130628-richard-louv-nature-deficit-disorder-health-environment/&gt;.

“Nature Nurtures Creativity.” U News Center. U of Utah, n.d. Web. 26 Sept. 2014. <http://unews.utah.edu/news_releases/nature-nurtures-creativity-2/&gt;.

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7 thoughts on “Want to Be More Creative? Get Immersed in the Nature!

  1. Hans, I found your article both interesting and relevant. I think it is especially important for kids to get outside because they are in the most formative years of their lives and as you said, nowadays people are drawing a line between nature and human society. I found this article,(http://aeon.co/magazine/culture/children-today-are-suffering-a-severe-deficit-of-play/), about the importance for children to play outside. Even though the article is not blaming technology for this lack of play, I think it does a good job of highlighting the importance of getting outside and away from everyday life, like school and technology. The author brought up a good point about when he was a kid, playing outside, getting bored and then having to overcome that boredom. Today kids just turn to technology when they get bored. I think the reason that people are drawing this divide between themselves and nature is that they do not understand the true importance of being in nature and taking a break from technology. So, the key to reversing this trend will be spreading awareness.
    Overall a great post!

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  2. The fact that just being in nature can change the way your mind works is fascinating. After writing my journal entry, I felt refreshed and relaxed, but I had no idea that there was a way to quantitatively measure this effect.

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  3. Hi Hans,

    I found it intriguing that nature immersion could lead to creativity. I wonder if the reason behind this may not solely be because of the “beautiful benefits” nature may hold. I think a reason creativity was prominent in those who had been more in touch with nature, is because of the isolation that came with the process of immersion into the natural environment. It is human nature to become caught up in today’s high paced world of technology, jobs, school, money, relationships, etc. Many of us, including myself, have never even thought of exploring nature or being “one with nature” before. The first time the idea was brought to me was in my Environmental Science class actually. I think the essence of being alone in a peaceful place where you know people are not requesting things from you or bothering you with any thoughts but your own is what allows the mind to expand and reach new levels of creativity. So yes, I think nature definitely had an effect on these people and the way they think, however I think the idea of being completely alone with your thoughts in an open and calming environment is what really nudged their brains (not necessary outdoors or immersed in natural surroundings).

    I also wanted to share a quote I found from an article titled “Nature and Environment” in “Atlantic monthly” I came across that I think supports your claim that in today’s world we are trying to so hard to separate the human population from our natural environment, when in reality we should be intergrading the two together. Bill Mckibben states that “it is the fraught relationship between man and nature that suffuses many of the best American novels, poems, and stories- and that many of the most eloquent and impassioned American essays take as their central subject.” Mckibben believes, just like you and me, that man should work alongside of nature to open new ideas, innovations, connections, and a mind filled with creativity.

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  4. Hans,

    I love that you wrote this blog entry because I feel like I can relate to it! I never really made the connection between lack of technology and being in nature effecting how creative I am, but it totally makes sense. I think that when we aren’t surrounded by things that have already been created or done for us, we aren’t constrained to thinking within the lines. It is really easy to get caught up in the latest news and technologies now a days but I think that it is really important to escape every now and then. I wonder how schools would respond to this information. I am sitting here reflecting on the fact that we all spend every waking moment with our technology, writing a paper or doing research for our homework. Would there be a benefit to schools requiring that kids go outside and just relax in nature for a little while? Do we loose that creative spark as the school year progresses because we are a school under one roof and so barely step outside? Especially in winter!
    There are a multitude of health benefits to being outside, not just an increase in creativity. Overall being outdoors apparently helps mental and physical health. I think that this is definitely something that schools in general should pay attention to. I know that in general people felt a lot less stressed out at Chewonki… probably because we frolicked around in the woods a lot :).
    http://www.nwf.org/Be-Out-There/Why-Be-Out-There/Health-Benefits.aspx

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  5. Hans this was really interesting. I do personally love to be immersed in nature and I think it is important on philosophical level to be connected with our environment. However, I am not entirely sure that nature induces creativity. I question the experiment these researchers did. How where the 56 people chosen? Was it a random sample, simple random, stratified sample or a convenient sample? Why were there more men than women in this experiment? Also, the kinds of people that might agree to this kind of experiment is another red flag. How would they obtain a person who hates nature to consent to this experiment? The method in which this experiment was produced is dubious. It appears that this could be a bias experiment; therefore, its results should not be full trusted.
    Additionally, how does one measure creativity? The experiment does not necessarily go into much detail about they test their subjects to measure this independent variable. Since creativity is a subjective and relative term, what did their results look like? When was a subject being “creative”? Overall, I think the experiment seems to shy away from giving direct and grounded statements about the relationship between nature and technology. Does it even really exist?

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  6. Hans- I thought your article was interesting and very true about today’s society. Today’s society especially the youth is not into playing outside and playing sports. today’s youth is into staying inside and playing video games or watching tv. However I do find it hard to believe that being in nature alone can help improve creativity. There could be other factors such as the person just being creative, people being more comfortable in nature, etc. Another problem with the experiment is it such a concentrated age group. The average age for 56 is 28, that is very little age group. How do you know if all other age groups become more creative in nature, according to this research we don’t. I do think that being in nature can help improve your creativeness, I think there is more to it than just nature. Overall though, well done Hans.

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