Nature experience influences nature aversion: Comparison of South Korea and Germany
Ju-Hyoung Lee (Yeungnam University) and Sook-Jeong Lee (Sookmyung Women's University), 2018, 46(1), 161–176.
Living in Mexico, but being from Australia originally, one of the questions I am asked most frequently is, “Aren’t you scared of all the dangerous animals from your country?” In a vast country with a relatively low population, Australians have little choice but to be constantly surrounded by nature. And despite a healthy respect for that nature and the animals living in it, the answer that most Australians will give is no. Why is that the case, even though we are surrounded by some of the most dangerous animals in the world?
This question meant that my interest was sparked when I came across this research by Lee and Lee and how they developed the connection between the level of nature experiences and the perception people will have of nature. They did this by comparing South Koreans, who typically are more disconnected with nature, to residents of Germany, a country in which residents enjoy being in nature regularly.
As suspected, it was found that the degree of nature aversion, or “uncomfortable awkwardness when in a truly natural environment” (p. 161), was higher with South Korean respondents, than for German respondents, especially when it came to sitting or lying down in the forest. The frequency of contact with nature also affected the respondents’ nature aversion – the more frequent visitors were less affected by nature aversion and vice versa to the point of some having an intense dislike of natural experiences.
And so my question has its answer – the more we are exposed to nature, the less likely we are to be awkward or feel threatened by it. Fear of the unknown, or in this case, fear of the unfamiliar, certainly affects our reaction to nature. As an amusing side note, I often feel threatened by animals found here in Mexico, even though they’re far less dangerous than their Australian rivals. Perhaps I need to dedicate some more time to the local parks and zoos here to face my fears once and for all!
Allana Cruz | Editorial Assistant
Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal