Watching nature programmes can evoke happiness and combat stress.
A study commissioned by BBC Earth – which included more than 500 participants from South Africa – found that even a short engagement with such shows can increase positive emotions including awe‚ contentment‚ joy and excitement.
The study was commissioned to mark the launch of its landmark nature series Planet Earth II‚ which premiered on BBC Earth on DStv last month.
The BBC’s own research team collaborated with the University of Berkeley on the online study of more than 7 500 participants from the US‚ UK‚ Singapore‚ India‚ South Africa and Australia. Participants viewed one in five clips – two from Planet Earth II‚ one from a popular drama‚ a news coverage montage and one control video.
Researchers found that not only do nature shows evoke positive emotions‚ they also reduce feelings of tiredness‚ anger and stress.
Women experienced greater changes in emotions than men after watching Planet Earth II.
Johannesburg clinical psychologist Dr Ingrid Artus found with her patients that when asked to imagine a scene that is calming‚ relaxing and beautiful, most would picture a nature scene.
“When focus and emotional appreciation come together . . . the brain interprets it in a moment of now and the positive emotions connected to natural scenery would be evoked.
“I suspect‚ however‚ that these positive emotions may unfortunately only last as long as the nature programme does,” Artus said.