Does bird singing take people’s fears away?
Not only flowers have a positive effect in spring.
Environmental psychologists want to find out why nature is good for people. Tricks should help to find out what role the chirping and trilling of the birds plays.
Mometimes you come across a mountain lion, a fox or a black bear on the Gregory Canyon Trail, a good half hour from Denver. A path in the middle of a spectacular mountain landscape, pure nature – relaxation guaranteed. What the hikers didn’t realize in the summer of 2021, however, was that they were part of an experiment that Danielle Ferraro and Clinton Francis from California Polytechnic State University wanted to use to find out why people enjoy being outdoors so much. To be more precise: the two researchers wanted to know whether only the fresh air, the exercise and the beautiful view account for the feel-good effect of nature – or whether birdsong also plays a part. So they hid loudspeakers in the trees and bushes on a section of the Gregory Canyon Trail and the McClintock Trail and let them sound out a weekly phantom bird choir consisting of exactly the species native to the area. The acoustics of the mountains have been artificially enriched. At the end of the trail, the hikers then filled out questionnaires to indicate whether nature was good for them and what they had particularly enjoyed.
In fact, it turned out that hikers who had hiked with an artificial bird choir felt more relaxed and enthusiastic about their hike than those for whom no phantom choir had trilled. Surprisingly, it didn’t matter whether the hikers were even aware of the chirping or not. Acoustic diversity is obviously good, even if you don’t notice it.