Is spending time in nature beneficial to our health?

As part of an ongoing research project into the effect of nature on our health and well-being, the Hawk Conservancy Trust is hosting students from the University of Surrey. One of the students, Jess Green, tells us about her undergraduate dissertation project that she conducted here at the Trust.

“Research has found that spending time in nature can be beneficial for our health and well-being, with some suggesting highlighting that the presence of wildlife within natural settings is associated with this.

“I am studying BSc Psychology and for my dissertation project, with support from The University of Surrey Psychology Department and the Hawk Conservancy Trust, I have been researching exactly that. We’re particularly interested in seeing how different types of engagement with wildlife within natural settings (e.g. bird displays) might influence well-being.

“As a part of this, I have developed and conducted two studies.

“Study 1 was a controlled lab study, which took place in lab rooms with the Psychology Department with undergraduate students. Participants were asked to complete a photo rating survey; they were presented with different photos of natural environments and asked to imagine they were in the environment. Images were specifically selected to show different levels of bird presence, with some showing birds very close up and others having no birds present at all. All of these images were taken at the Trust in their Woodland Owl display. Filler images of other random natural environments were also included to detract from the purpose of the study. Participants rated the environments using several scales, including how it made them feel and what it meant to them.

“Study 2 was a natural field study, which took place at the Trust using visitors over a two day period in January. Visitors were approached and asked if they would be happy to participate and were asked to complete a series of surveys; including an initial survey, one spent following time sitting in the natural environment, and one after watching the Woodland Owl display. A big thank you to all of the visitors who helped with my project!

“The data is now in the process of being analysed – see the second image below – and will then be written up in the form of a lab report which makes up the main part of my dissertation.

“It has been great working in connection with the Hawk Conservancy Trust and I look forward to seeing what the results show!”

Jess Green

Watch this space for the next update from Jess with the results from her project!


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