Greenery in a neighborhood may be linked to a reduction in aggressive behavior among kids and teenagers, according to a study published in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. The study notes previous research has linked green spaces to improved overall mental health.
Effects of Green Spaces on Aggression
Researchers recruited 1,287 participants from the Risk Factors for Antisocial Behavior Study. This study of California twins and triplets born between 1990 and 1995 included numerous assessments of behavior between 2000 and 2012.
The study looked at parent responses to questions about aggression on the Child Behavior Checklist. This inventory asks about aggressive behavior such as physically attacking others, destroying property, and threatening others. The team then used satellite imagery to assess the presence of greenery in participants’ neighborhoods.
Teenagers ages 9-18 who had access to greenery displayed less aggressive behavior than those who lived in neighborhoods devoid of greenery. The effect lasted both immediately after the aggression survey (one to six months) and in the long-term (one to three years).gender, and age—that might affect aggression levels, and they determined these factors did not affect the results. The study equated the effect of green space within 1,000 meters of the home to two-and-a-half years of maturation in adolescents.
Other Benefits of Green Spaces
Research often points to the benefits of green spaces. A 2015 study linked time spent playing outdoors to improved cognitive development in elementary school-aged children. Other studies have linked green spaces to greater work satisfaction, decreased mental fatigue, and more opportunities for physical activity. Some studies also suggest access to nature could reduce symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity, Alzheimer’s, dementia, and depression. In people recently diagnosed with cancer, one study found spending time outside could improve cognitive functioning.
- Dadvand, P., Nieuwenhuijsen, M. J., Esnaola, M., Forns, J., Basagaña, X., Alvarez-Pedrerol, M., . . . Sunyer, J. (2015). Green spaces and cognitive development in primary schoolchildren. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 112(26), 7937-7942. doi:10.1073/pnas.1503402112
- Greenery in neighborhoods may reduce adolescent aggressive behavior. (2016, June 28). Retrieved from http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-06/e-gin062816.php
- Mental health and function. (2016, June 15). Retrieved from https://depts.washington.edu/hhwb/Thm_Mental.html
- Younan, D., Tuvblad, C., Li, L., Wu, J., Lurmann, F., Franklin, M., . . . Chen, J. (2016). Environmental determinants of aggression in adolescents: Role of urban neighborhood greenspace. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 55(7), 591-601. doi:10.1016/j.jaac.2016.05.002
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