On Nature and Prosocial Behavior. Prosocial behavior inclinations to share, care, cooperate, and assist is critical

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1 On Nature and Prosocial Behavior Prosocial behavior inclinations to share, care, cooperate, and assist is critical to the development and maintenance of strong social relationships. Prosocial behavior can enable social ties that are reciprocal and mutually beneficial. Yet prosocial behavior can also incur many costs, and those who act prosocially risk their sacrifices being unreciprocated or even exploited. How do individuals decide about where, when, and with whom to act in a prosocial fashion? Several lines of theorizing have focused on how social processes influence prosocial behavior, positing that prosociality follows from rational cost-benefit analyses in which the individual takes stock of the person in need, the costs of helping, and the immediate or delayed rewards for the self to be derived from prosocial action (Keltner et al 2014). Extending this framework, emerging research in psychology suggests that prosociality can also arise from processes that are neither rational nor social. This work finds that prosocial behavior can be influenced by people s relationship to the external natural environment. Research has documented a connection between experiences of nature and an enhanced orientation to others and social relationships. For instance, people who feel connected to nature report greater perspective taking (Mayer & Frantz 2004), and people who perceive beauty in nature report more benevolence (Diessner et al 2013). In one experiment, people who saw images of nature, relative to images of urban scenes, endorsed greater communal aspirations (e.g., To have deep enduring relationships ). In a follow up study, participants who completed the study in a lab with potted plants behaved more generously than participants in a room without plants (Weinstein et al 2009). A connection to nature, it would seem, can enhance social connections.

2 In our own research, we have focused on two mediating processes that may help drive the effects of nature and the natural environment on human sociality: beauty and awe. We have found that exposure to natural beauty is a particularly significant driver of prosocial behavior (Zhang et al 2014). In one relevant study, we randomly assigned participants to watch a one minute long slideshow that contained either 10 images of beautiful nature or 10 images of less beautiful nature. We then gave each participant 10 points (each of which would be equal to an additional 5 cent payout at the end of the study) and asked them how many, if any, they wanted to allocate to an anonymous partner that they had been paired with in the study. Participants who had viewed images of beautiful nature gave away significantly more points than participants in the less beautiful nature condition. In another study, participants who were exposed to more beautiful as opposed to less beautiful nature offered more help to an experimenter by folding Japanese paper cranes for victims of a tsunami. Across studies we also found that the effects of natural beauty on prosocial behavior were driven by positive mood. In other words, participants who had been exposed to natural beauty felt better they were happier and their enhanced positivity drove their increased kindness toward others. In another focal area of research, we have examined the social consequences of awe a cherished and transformative emotion that is deeply connected to experiences in nature (Shiota et al 2007). Awe arises via appraisals of stimuli that are vast, that transcend current frames of reference, and that require new schemata to accommodate what is being perceived. Although many stimuli can inspire awe, from beautiful buildings to elegant equations, the prototypical awe experience, at least in Western cultures,

3 involves encounters with natural phenomena that are immense in size, scope, or complexity (e.g., panoramic vistas, the night sky, giant trees, waterfalls). Studies have begun to document the influences of awe on sociality, effects that can be understood in terms of how awe directs attention to entities greater than oneself and triggers feelings that one s individual being is relatively less significant. In one study, participants primed to recall a past personal experience of awe reported perceptions of something greater than themselves, feeling smaller and less significant, and a sense that their attention was less focused on personal day-to-day concerns (Shiota et al 2007). In other research, eliciting awe via a nature video caused participants to feel more connected to others (Van Cappellen & Saroglou 2012). We have found that experiences of awe can cause people to be more willing to forego self-interest in favor of others welfare (Piff et al 2014). In one experiment, inducing awe via a five-minute video of scenic vistas, mountains, and canyons caused participants to share significantly more of a valued resource (lottery tickets for a cash prize) with a stranger, relative to participants who watched a video of nature that induced amusement or a neutral control video. In another experiment, we situated participants in a grove of towering eucalyptus trees and asked them to look up at the tall trees or to face the opposite direction and look up at a tall building (control) for 60 seconds; these experiences differed in the levels of awe they evoked. After 60 seconds had elapsed, we assessed participants helping behavior by observing and recording the number of pens they picked up to help an experimenter who had ostensibly dropped them by accident. Participants who stared up at trees gathered significantly more pens for the experimenter than participants in the control condition. Even short-lived, fleeting experiences of awe in nature can have a meaningful impact on

4 various types of prosocial judgments and behavior. Moreover, across our studies we found that the effects of awe on prosociality were driven by self-reported feelings that the individual self and its interests were relatively diminished vis-à-vis something perceived to be more vast and powerful than oneself. In certain ways, then, experiences of awe toward nature may serve to shift people s focus away from being the center of their own individual worlds toward the broader social context and their place within it. The naturalist Jon Muir observed, in every walk with Nature one receives far more than he seeks (Muir 1992, p. 918), suggesting a psychological benefit to nature an intuition many people share and that mounting evidence corroborates (Bratman et al 2012). Our research indicates that perceptions of beauty, enhanced positive mood, and transformative experiences of awe are but a few of the myriad benefits that arise from humans relationship to nature, benefits that can extend well beyond the individual to one s relationship partners, small groups, and social collectives.

5 References Bratman, GN Hamilton, JP & Daily, GC 2012, The impacts of nature experience on human cognitive function and mental health, Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, vol. 1249, no. 1, pp Diessner, R Iyer, R Smith, MM & Haidt, J 2013, Who engages with moral Beauty?, Journal of Moral Education, vol. 42, no. 2, pp Keltner, D Kogan, A Piff, PK & Saturn, SR 2014, The Sociocultural Appraisals, Values, and Emotions (SAVE) Framework of Prosociality: Core Processes from Gene to Meme, Annual Review of Psychology, vol. 65, pp Mayer, FS & Frantz, CM 2004, The connectedness to nature scale: A measure of individuals feeling in community with nature. Journal of Environmental Psychology, vol. 24, no. 4, pp Muir, J 1992, The eight wildness discovery books, Diadem Books, United Kingdom. Piff, PK Dietze, P Feinberg, M Stancato, DM & Keltner, D 2014, Sublime sociality: How awe promotes prosocial behavior through the small self. Under review. Shiota, MN Keltner, D & Mossman, A 2007, The nature of awe: Elicitors, appraisals, and effects on self-concept, Cognition and Emotion, vol. 21, no. 5, pp Van Cappellen, P & Saroglou, V 2012, Awe activates religious and spiritual feelings and behavioral intentions, Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, vol. 4, no. 3, pp Weinstein, N Przybylski, AK & Ryan, RM 2009, Can nature make us more caring? Effects of immersion in nature on intrinsic aspirations and generosity, Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, vol. 35, no. 10, pp Zhang, JW Piff, PK Iyer, R Koleva, S & Keltner, D 2014, An occasion for unselfing: Beautiful nature leads to prosociality. Journal of Environmental Psychology, vol. 37, pp

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