Naturess: a research project for lifestyle change and stress reduction
G. LIEDTKE1, B. GHAFFARI1, L. ZINDEL1, C. BARZ1, M. BIENIA1, P. MALCOLM1, J.
1 University of Hamburg, Germany
The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of movement in nature and specific life-
reflective tasks related to nature on perceived values and perceived chronic stress. Seel (1996)
has developed the theory of aesthetic correspondence, stating that humans can recognise
chances for a good and satisfying life in the aesthetic perception of nature. Liedtke (2005)
expanded this theory by the aspect of livelily correspondence where humans recognise their
belonging and contact to nature. Initial evidence is pointing to the possibility that experiences
in nature can affect the otherwise very stable construct of perceived values (Hack, 2011;
Liedtke, 2005). Values are “guiding principles in the life of a person” (Schwartz, 1994, p. 21)
and therefore act as the internal base of human behaviour. The idea of this research project
was to develop an intervention that would enable participants to reflect their own lifestyle and
thus recognise positive as well as negative behaviour patterns.
Several groups were investigated (N=16). In each group, a number of 8 – 12 participants met
for six times over a period of eight weeks. Each of the meetings lasted 2,5 hours. The
intervention took place in a local park and was primarily carried out in the woods rather than
on paths. Participants were asked to do a mental perception task in the first 30 min. of each
meeting and then usually spend about an hour being in the woods for themselves. They were
given tasks such as: “Find three places and reflect on the way that these places deal with you
and your life”. Participants filled out the German version of the “Perceived Values
Questionnaire” with 40 items (Schmidt et al., 2007) and the “Trierer Inventar zu chronischem
Stress” (Schulz et al., 2004). They completed the questionnaires before, directly after, six
weeks and 12 months after the intervention. Additionally, guided interviews were carried out
six weeks and 12 months after the intervention.
Significant changes were found for all dimensions of the “Perceived Values Questionnaire”
which cover power, achievement, hedonism, stimulation, self-direction, universalism,
benevolence, conformity, tradition and security. For example, the dimension “power”
changed by a mean amount of 0,53 on a scale of 1 to 6 after the intervention. This change was
upheld 12 months after the intervention. Changes in the perceived level of stress were (due to
the small group?) not significant.
Personal, motivational values are assumed to be stable patterns that show little change – at
least at the age of adults. The present investigation showed that life-reflective tasks related to
nature could lead to a significant change in values or maybe better: a readjustment.
Further investigations will take place to verify these results.