Feel connected to nature? It might be in your genes

8 Feb 2022

For the first time, researchers have revealed how a person’s genes can play a part in their enjoyment of nature, potentially changing the way we look at our affinity with the natural world.

The University of Queensland’s Professor Richard Fuller, with collaborators at the National University of Singapore, compared data from more than 1000 sets of identical twins to find out how genetics may influence our relationship with nature.

“We compared twins who had been raised together with twins raised apart, in an attempt to demonstrate genetic heritability of two traits: how strongly they feel connected to nature, and the amount of time a person spends in nature,” Professor Fuller said.

“We were truly surprised by what we found.

“Depending on which characteristic you look at, these ‘nature-loving’ behaviours were heritable between 34 and 48 per cent of the time.

“This means there may be innate genetic differences among people’s psychological connection with natural environments and how they experience them.

“Our results help to explain why some people have a stronger desire than others to be in nature.”

The participating twins were part of TwinsUK, the United Kingdom’s largest adult twin registry and the most clinically detailed twin study in the world.

Read full article on UQ News

The research has been published in PLOS Biology (DOI: /10.1371/journal.pbio.3001500).