Here on Inc.com I've covered a drumbeat of studies showing the psychological benefits of spending time in nature. On top of repeated findings that the great outdoors reduces stress and makes you happier, recent research even indicates that something as simple as staring at a neighboring green roof for less than a minute can chill you out.
But while it seems that the advantages of spending time outdoors have been pretty conclusively proven, I feel duty-bound to report when any evidence to the contrary comes up. And some recently did.
A new study adds an intriguing wrinkle to the edict that more time in nature is generally better -- apparently, there's one major exception.
Neurotic? Then skip that camping trip.
Writing for Quartz, Olivia Goldhill reports on recent research published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology that suggests for one personality type in particular, the peace and quiet of natural settings is likely to increase stress, not reduce it. The "researchers found that neurotic people find anxiety-inducing environments more restorative than traditionally calm ones," she writes.
"People tended to do better in environments that fit with their personality. Imagine someone with a neurotic personality like Woody Allen. If you put him in a forest it could be very off-putting rather than rejuvenating," lead author Kevin Newman commented.
Why is that? The authors speculate that processing environments that match up to our expectations is less stressful for everyone. It's just that blaring car horns and elbow-throwing strangers are pretty much what the more neurotic among us expect from the world.
So if the whispering of leaves in the breeze just makes you worry that their might be a hungry grizzly bear behind every tree, then nature is not going to calm you down. And if the noise in your head pretty much sounds like a clattering subway anyway, no wonder the city feels like home.
Is this study definitive?
Of course, this is only one study, and as Goldhill points out the participants' responses to natural or urban environments were tested by exposing them to words associated with these places rather than actually taking them on a quiet hike or down a crowded city street (check out her piece for more details on the slightly complex study methodology).
One could wonder if the reality of nature or cities might have different effects than descriptions of these environments. An index card that reads ''forest' could very well make you feel differently than a giant spider actually falling out of the trees onto your head.
But for those who have spent their whole lives being baffled or annoyed by the idea that spending some time out amid the mosquitoes, weather, and wild animals of nature is fun and relaxing, this bit of science will come as welcome confirmation that you're not crazy.
Nature -- soothing or stressful, in your opinion?