consultation

Naava Science: Biophilia – how science explains our love of nature

Posted by Siru Heiskanen on December 29, 2016
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Note: As of 09/2017, we have released a new, more comprehensive post about Biophilia.

 

Researchers agree, that nature has a positive influence on our health and wellbeing. We’re happier in nature compared to urban habitats. During the past decades our environment has changed drastically, and along with it, our connection to nature.

Most of the humankind lives in cities and spends the majority of their time indoors. Still we’re appealed by nature – we visit natural parks and gardens, go jogging in the forest, prefer a window seat, and decorate our homes with plants. Why? What makes us gravitate towards nature?

Our connection to nature is a universal basic human need that is not bound to culture or personality, but has developed during our evolutionary history.

Biophilia, “the love of life and all living systems”, is a theory that aims to explain our innate desire to stay close to nature. The word was first used by a German psychologist, Erich Fromann, in his book “The heart of man”. Later it was used by a known biologist, Edward Wilson. According to him, our connection to nature is a universal basic human need that is not bound to culture or personality, but has developed during our evolutionary history.

Let’s return to the birthplace of humans, hundreds of thousands of years ago: to the African savannah. Our ancestors lived a life of hunting and gathering, relying on the resources provided by nature. Diverse plant and animal life was a sign of food, water and shelter.

We have descended from the people who looked for these signals that were crucial for their survival. Our brains still carry these inherited features, which unconsciously continue to affect our lives. Our brains interpret unnatural environments as a sign of insecurity, which can cause us stressful reactions

Although returning to the African savannah might not be a practical solution, luckily research shows that even bringing in natural elements, such as plants, can have a positive influence on our well-being.

Wall-climbing plant growth

“Biophilia acts as the will behind conserving our planet - by destroying the source of food and clean air, water, and land, we are destroying ourselves. We have an innate understanding of the importance of nature”

-E. O. Wilson, 1984

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