Can nature videos help improve prisoner behavior?

August 05, 2016

DENVER - Researchers have identified a simple intervention that may help reduce levels of violence in maximum security prisons. Inmates who viewed nature videos showed reduced levels of aggression and were less likely to be disciplined than those in similar cellblocks, according to research presented at the American Psychological Association's 124th Annual Convention.

"We need nature for our physical and psychological well-being," said clinical psychotherapist Patricia H. Hasbach, PhD, who presented the research. "Although direct contact with real nature is most effective, studies have shown that even indirect nature exposure can provide temporary relief from psychological stress in daily life."

Hasbach and her colleagues wanted to see if this effect carried over to maximum security prisons. They studied a cellblock at The Snake River Correctional Institution in Oregon that housed 48 inmates. Half were provided nature videos to view during their scheduled indoor recreation time (three to four times per week over the course of a year). Content included images of diverse biomes (e.g., ocean, forest, rivers), aquarium scenes, a fireplace with burning logs, Earth viewed from space and cloud fly-throughs. The other half were not offered the chance to view the videos.

"Inmate surveys and case study interviews with inmates suggested that negative emotions and behaviors such as aggression, distress, irritability and nervousness were reduced following the viewing of videos and lasted for several hours post-viewing," said Hasbach.

Prison staff also reported through case study interviews and written surveys that viewing the videos appeared to be a positive way to reduce violent behavior.

Over the course of the year studied, prisoners who viewed the videos had fewer disciplinary referrals than those who did not. The intervention has been considered so successful that it is now being used in other areas of the prison. Prison staff are also using the videos as a targeted intervention when they see warning signs that an inmate may be about to act out.

"We found that inmates who watched the nature videos committed 26 percent fewer violent infractions," said Hasbach. "This is equivalent to 13 fewer violent incidents over the year, a substantial reduction in real world conditions, since nearly all such events result in injuries to inmates or officers."

This experiment may act as a model for other correctional facilities to help limit stress, mental fatigue, violence and other negative behaviors among their populations, according to Hasbach.

Session 2075: "Nature Imagery in Prisons Project: The Impact on Staff and Inmates in Solitary Confinement," Paper Session, Friday, Aug. 5, 9 - 9:50 a.m. MDT, Room 711, Level 2, Meeting Room Level, Colorado Convention Center, 700 14th Street, Denver.
-end-
Presentations are available from the APA Public Affairs Office.

Contact: Patricia H. Hasbach at phasbach@northwestecotherapy.com or by phone at (541) 345-1410.

The American Psychological Association, in Washington, D.C., is the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States. APA's membership includes more than 117,500 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants and students. Through its divisions in 54 subfields of psychology and affiliations with 60 state, territorial and Canadian provincial associations, APA works to advance the creation, communication and application of psychological knowledge to benefit society and improve people's lives.

http://www.apa.org

American Psychological Association

Related Aggression Articles from Brightsurf:

Should I run, or should I not? The neural basis of aggression and flight
Researchers in the Gross group at EMBL Rome have investigated the mechanism behind defensive behaviour in mice.

Most dentists have experienced aggression from patients
Roughly half of US dentists experienced verbal or reputational aggression by patients in the past year, and nearly one in four endured physical aggression, according to a new study led by researchers at NYU College of Dentistry.

Swans reserve aggression for each other
Swans display more aggression to fellow swans than other birds, new research shows.

Group genomics drive aggression in honey bees
Researchers often study the genomes of individual organisms to try to tease out the relationship between genes and behavior.

How experiencing traumatic stress leads to aggression
Traumatic stress can cause aggression by strengthening two brain pathways involved in emotion, according to research recently published in JNeurosci.

New insights into how genes control courtship and aggression
Fruit flies, like many animals, engage in a variety of courtship and fighting behaviors.

Two hormones drive anemonefish fathering, aggression
Two brain-signaling molecules control how anemonefish dads care for their young and respond to nest intruders, researchers report in a new study.

Solitude breeds aggression in spiders (rather than vice versa)
Spiders start out social but later turn aggressive after dispersing and becoming solitary, according to a study publishing July 2 in the open-access journal PLOS Biology by Raphael Jeanson of the National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) in France, and colleagues.

Interparental aggression often co-occurs with aggression toward kids
Parents in the midst of a psychologically or physically aggressive argument tend to also be aggressive with their children, according to researchers at Penn State.

Familiarity breeds aggression
Aggressiveness among animals may increase the longer individuals live together in stable groups.

Read More: Aggression News and Aggression Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.