Events & Media



"Psychological Ecosystem Services: The mental health benefits of nature experience"

Greg Bratman
PhD Candidate
Stanford University

Wednesday, Mar. 11, 2015
11:30 - 12:30
Bren Hall 1414

"Greg is an engaging speaker who is tackling a fundamental question about humanity's relationship with nature, and is using some really innovative research techniques to try to more deeply understand that relationship." — Ben Halpern

Many individuals report feelings of decreased negative emotions and increased positive emotions after contact with natural environments. Several studies have used tools from psychology to measure the impact of nature experience on human cognitive function and emotion including increased working memory capacity, decreased anxiety and stress, and other mood benefits. However, a great deal of research is still needed to further isolate and define these effects and to answer the fundamental question: “Do humans benefit in a measurable way from contact with nature? And if so, why, and in what ways?” This talk will cover the tools and approaches that have been used to investigate this question and will present new findings and approaches to uncovering a causal mechanism that may be responsible for these benefits. Spatial modeling and representation of these results may help inform urban planning and policy makers, contributing to optimal choices regarding the provision of access to nature in a rapidly urbanizing world.

Greg Bratman is working to define and study “psychological ecosystem services” by investigating links between experience in nature and human well-being. Using a variety of methodologies, he is measuring nature's impacts on human cognitive function and mental health, while exploring effective means with which these benefits can best be incorporated into the paradigm of ecosystem services. In addition to the experimental work that is centered on the verification of these effects, he is exploring a theory for the causal mechanisms that may be responsible for their existence. Ideally this research can be incorporated into the eventual modeling of these impacts, and into developing innovative tools, in collaboration with the Natural Capital Project, to map them on the landscape.

NOTE: Community colloquia are generally talks of broad interest geared toward a diverse, sophisticated audience. Their purpose is not only to enhance knowledge and understanding, but also to bring people together and promote interaction that will strengthen the community.


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