Acts of self-control are more likely to fail after previous exertion of self-control, known as the ego depletion effect. Research has shown that depleted participants behave more aggressively than non-depleted participants, especially after being provoked. Although exposure to nature (e.g., a walk in the park) has been predicted to replenish resources common to executive functioning and self-control, the extent to which exposure to nature may counteract the depletion effect on aggression has yet to be determined. The present study investigated the effects of exposure to nature on aggression following depletion. Aggression was measured by the intensity of noise blasts participants delivered to an ostensible opponent in a competition reaction-time task. As predicted, an interaction occurred between depletion and environmental manipulations for provoked aggression. Specifically, depleted participants behaved more aggressively in response to provocation than non-depleted participants in the urban condition. However, provoked aggression did not differ between depleted and non-depleted participants in the natural condition. Moreover, within the depletion condition, participants in the natural condition had lower levels of provoked aggression than participants in the urban condition. This study suggests that a brief period of nature exposure may restore self-control and help depleted people regain control over aggressive urges.
- ego depletion