INTRODUCTIONWith a steady rise of mental disorders in the United States some have questioned whether we should examine if it is our own environment that we have created that is causing our own problem. Could it be that with our technology comes more detachment from our natural environment? If we look back on our history when we focused more on farming and agriculture and how the impact of technology like the automobile gave easy access of rural citizens to the large cities. Americans have become less rural and more urban over the past 100 years; “Americans born before 1905 only one percent had suffered an episode of major depression by age 75; of Americans born after1955 six percent had suffered major depression by age 30. This same historical trend is evident in other Western industrial nations such as New Zealand, Taiwan and Lebanon. Currently, it is estimated that 23.1% of the U.S. population will develop symptoms of depression during their lifetime” (Palmer & Palmer, 2002, p.252-253). Palmer & Palmer also stated that evolutionary linked behaviors are linked to seasonal affective disorder (SAD) because the fall and winter months are time for rest and conserving resources. They suggest that because we are “supposed” to be in a hibernation or simply limited activity level during the winter months, our environmental changes of longer nights and shorter days and because we are still remaining active during these “conservation” months it is causing SAD. “One major source of modern stress is that we live in a world peopled by strangers. Traditional tribal groups are seldom comprised of more than a few hundred individuals and are generally much smaller than that” (Palmer & Palmer, 2002, p. 252-253). With Palmer & Palmer stating that our major source of stress being neighbors that are strangers may not be far from the truth with trust issues constantly surrounding people why would strangers not be a constant stressor. These correlation data suggests that our way of life with modern technologies may be one of the causes of these mental disorders (e.g., depression and anxiety). Mood has several different ways it can be affected through environment, through experiences, and even through music. Sean M. Harvey (2000) performed an experiment performed on freshmen oral communication and psychology courses on how music affected mood the music being played for a brief time and his results showed a significant affect of an up-tempo style of music created an excited mood state and a softer style of music created a relaxed mood state.Daniel Shepardson’s research on students ideas of what an environment is, indicated that students from 7th, 8th, and 9th grade classes viewed an environment as a “natural landscape; human-managed or built landscapes were not seen as environments by these students. For these students, humans do not appear to be apart of an environment but are separate from it.” This research indicates that humans are becoming more detached from the natural world and are no longer seen as part of nature; that the human environment is the concrete jungle.Mood affects the way people perceive the world around them, and it has been suggested that individuals in happier moods rely on global information (e.g. An image of a face or picture of an African shield picture with global information in the form of a title). “Consistent with predictions, the results indicate that compared with individuals in happier moods, those in sadder moods, were less likely to rely on the global information suggested by the title and form of the picture. Consequently, they drew pictures that were less like the original, less like a face, and less likely to contain the title” (Gasper and Clore, 2002). With these different ways that mood can affect how we perform and how outside stimulus can affect our mood the current experiment is to test the hypothesis that our man made environments negatively affects people’s mood. If this prediction is supported then there is a possible link between increasing levels of mood disorders and our detachment from nature through modern technology.
The participants consisted of 110 individuals, all college students from a small Midwest university. The students were enrolled in general psychology at the time of the study and received extra credit for their participation. The age of the students ranged from 18-26 years old.
The materials used were an eleven question survey, one as an initial current mood reading five nature pictures and five images of man-made structures. The eleven item survey asked students about there mood level, the rating system will be a one through six one being in the best positive mood and six being in the most negative mood, in respect to nature and man-made structures, pictures were displayed to participants in a
A survey of basic demographics and eleven mood related questions was administered taking approximately fifteen minutes to the 110 individuals testing their responses on two types of randomly projected images of nature and man made structures a how they affected mood. The goal of the study was to determine if there was in fact a correlation with natural images on positive mood.
RESULTS The results of this experiment are that there are no significant between gender, age, and year in school. There were significant found in race, living conditions, and starting mood before the experiment began. The links shown in race are when using one-way ANOVA the results show a significant correlation (F(1,108) =27.524, p =.01) showing that whites view nature image more positively than non whites, however there was no significant difference between groups in regards to the man made structures images. There was also a significant link, using the one-way ANOVA, between the living conditions of those who live in an urban environment rated the nature images as less positive than those on rural environment (F(2, 105) = 6.948, p < .05). There was no significant difference between the groups with regard to the man made structures images. The was also a significant link between the mood level reported before the experiment began using the one-way ANOVA the results showed that the less positive the participants started with the images of nature also were rated less positive (F(5,99) = 3.861, p <.05). The over all results do suggest that nature has a more positive affect on mood than man made structures, the average scores of the man made structures was 15.0364 and the average scores of nature images was 10.2818 showing that the man made structures had a 32% increase in negative mood scores.
DISCUSSION The hypothesis was supported that natural images affect mood in a more positive way than man made structures images, and if just images of can affect an individuals mood how will the real life experience affect peoples moods? Mood disorders are on the increase in the United States there are multiple reasons for this but the results seem to show a correlation between mankind’s own creations as being one of the causes. The hypothesis was properly tested within this experiment and the link with mood and mental disorders is clear through today’s medical information so the leap from increased negative moods resulting from cities is not that far of a leap. Limitations of this study are that the images of cities may be too serene and calming which can limit the levels of the city life that is being tested for. The generalize ability could be limited because of the limited population diversity with a dominating Caucasian population, all the subjects are from the Midwest United States and therefore maybe more likely to see the cities as more negative. Also cross cultural aspects were not taken into consideration within this experiment all subjects were from the United States.Possible recommendations for further research could be east and west coast continuations of this experiment or using very busy city images, or even more research on what other factors influence mood negatively.
REFERENCES Palmer, J.A., & Palmer, L. (2002). Evolutionary Psychology: The Ultimate Orgins of Human behavior. Boston, MA: Allyn and BaconHarvey, S.M. (2000). Music Perception. Rrieved Feburary 2006, from http://clearinghouse.missouriwestern.edu/manuscripts/186.asp.Gasper, K., & Clore, G.L. (2002). Attending to the big picture: mood and global versus local processing of visual information [Electronic version]. Psychological Science, 13, 24-40.Shepardson, D. (2005). Student ideas: what is an environment [Electronic version]. Journal of Environmental Education, 36(4), pp. 49-58