People have always been drawn to the natural world, lived dependent on nature and fascinated by the cycle of nature. Literally meaning “love of life”, biophilia is the idea that this fascination and oneness with nature stems from an innate, biological need to interact with other life forms such as animals and plants.
Although the term was coined by psychologist Erich Fromm, biologist Edward O. Wilson’s book published in 1984 biophiliaIt started to become popular after that. In this book, Wilson argued that this attraction of humans to nature is genetically predetermined and is the result of evolution.
According to this theory, people’s fascination with flowers stemmed from the fact that for many plant species, flowers signaled the imminent arrival of fruit (a rich food source for early humans). Humans’ fondness for baby animals shows that bonding with animals and protecting the most vulnerable among them gave early humans an evolutionary advantage.
Biophilia describes the human urge to connect with nature and other living things. The power of nature over humanity can affect our mental health, hobbies, travel, homes and workplaces.
As biophilia benefits people; The increasing distance between us and the natural world due to urbanization, technological advances and other factors can also have negative effects on our well-being.
Nature has the ability to create wonder and awe. The beauty and expanse of nature can lead people to reflect on the size of the universe, put their personal concerns into perspective, and be more attentive to their world and relationships.
Research suggests that the cognitive benefits of being in nature stem from ‘restorative environments’ that provide an experience of escape from daily demands and a sense of grandeur. Even after people just watch a nature movie or see photos of natural scenes, their focus time increases and they experience less mental fatigue.
If we look through the lens of evolutionary psychology; People with good connections to landscapes, animals, and water sources were more likely to survive. Survival and subsequent success depended on forming cohesive groups that were not based on kinship.
A shared belief in something greater than the individual is an effective mechanism for coordination. Nature and awe have united people from time immemorial in numerous collective activities, such as founding universities, organizing symphonies and trips to the moon.
Spending time in nature and interacting with animals has beneficial effects on both physical and mental health. For example, time spent in green spaces is associated with lower stress levels, improved memory and increased creativity. ADHD and depression symptoms may decrease as time spent outdoors increases for children and adults. The benefits of spending time in nature can also be physical. One study concluded that a microbe found in soil can improve the body’s immune response.
According to one study, those who walked in a scenic area experienced less anxiety and rumination than those who walked in a dense urban area. Longer-term studies also reveal that living in denser green spaces is associated with lower stress and greater well-being.
Animals are used regularly in therapeutic settings, and owning a pet has long been associated with positive mental health outcomes. In addition, people living with pets are generally more likely to experience physical activity, which is known for its physical and emotional benefits.