The study is published in the latest issue of Environment and Behavior (Vol. 35:3, 311-330). Wells will discuss the study at a meeting of the Environmental Design Research Association in Minneapolis on May 25.
Wells and Cornell colleague Gary Evans assessed the degree of nature in and around the homes of 337 rural children in grades 3 through 5 by calculating the number of live plants indoors, the amount of nature in the window views and the material of the outdoor yard (grass, dirt or concrete). Their assessment was based on a "naturalness scale of residential environments" that they developed in 2000. In addition, they used standardized scales to measure stress in the children's lives, parents' reports of their children's stressed behavior and the children's self-ratings of psychological well-being. The researchers then controlled for socioeconomic status and income.
"Our data also suggest little ceiling effect with respect to the benefits of exposure to the nature environment," the researchers note. "Even in a rural setting with a relative abundance of green landscape, more appears to be better when it comes to bolstering children's resilience against stress or adversity."
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