As the use of social media becomes more prevalent, especially in adolescents and young adults, there is a growing need to understand how social media use affects psychological well-being in the emerging adult population. Prior research has found that exposure to nature reduces stress and increases attention in comparison to urban environments, but nature has not been studied as a way to reduce the potentially negative effects of social media. The current study aimed to determine if viewing social media or nature for a brief time affected psychological well-being, social comparisons, future self-identification, and awe, and to test whether viewing nature scenes could buffer the effects of viewing social media. Data was collected from 275 participants using a survey on Amazon Mechanical Turk. Results showed that emerging adults exposed to nature scenes had significantly less negative affect compared to those exposed to their social media feeds. Exploratory analyses showed that those who spent more time outside tended to experience decreased negative affect when they viewed both social media and nature photos, but those who spent more time outside experienced increased negative affect when only viewing social media. Those who used social media more often generally experienced lower negative affect. Findings show that relations between humans, social media, and nature, are complex, and further research into these relations and their underlying causes may be beneficial.
- The Effects of a Brief Exposure to Nature on Psychological Well-Being