It turns out that you can know something is good for you, like spending time outside in nature, but still not be inclined to seek out the outdoors or its benefits. A new study finds that your genes play an important role in how you experience the outdoors.
An international study of over one thousand identical and fraternal twins determined that spending time outdoors (and enjoying it) was shared between twins in a heritable characteristic that describes some people as nature-oriented. In the twins, 46% of them shared similar outlooks on wanting to spend time in nature, and 34% of them visited parks or gardens at the same frequency as their twin.
Researchers believe that some environmental factors, like accessibility to nature by people in larger cities, also plays a role. They saw that as age increased, the similarities in inherited factors relating to outdoor behavior declined; leading researchers to believe that genetics give way to personal taste in later life.
Though this study was small and had its limitations, it illustrated the connection between genetics and personal preferences that are sometimes overlooked. Some people may not get the same satisfaction out of certain activities as others, and it’s a first look at how genetics can play a part in what makes individual tastes unique.
Chia-chen Chang, et al. People’s desire to be in nature and how they experience it are partially heritable. PLOS Biology, 2022; 20 (2). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.3001500