How Nature Can Help Prisoners

2 minute read

Watching videos of nature can reduce levels of aggression among prisoners, and possibly lead to fewer aggressive behaviors, according to a new study.

Researchers of the study, presented at the American Psychological Association’s 124th Annual Convention, analyzed the effect of watching nature videos on 48 inmates in a cellblock at the Snake River Correctional Institution in Oregon. Half of the inmates were shown videos of things like forests, the ocean, rivers and fireplaces with burning logs three to four times a week for a year. The other group of inmates, which served as the controls, did not watch the videos.

The study authors found that the inmates who watched the nature videos reported fewer emotions like distress, aggression and nervousness. Prisoners who watched the videos had 26% fewer violent infractions compared to inmates who did not watch the videos, though the videos can’t be proven to be the cause of this change.

In a statement about the findings, the study authors report that the videos are now being used in other parts of the prison due to their success.

As TIME previously reported, researchers are increasingly discovering the healing effects of spending time with nature and the outdoors. Studies have shown that people healing from surgery do so faster if their room is near a window, and nature has also been shown in studies to lower blood pressure, promote cancer-fighting cells and help ease symptoms of depression and anxiety.

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