News - November 4, 2004

Fear of nature

Environmental psychologist Dr Agnes van den Berg of Alterra carried out a survey on fear of nature together with a student from Radboud University Nijmegen.

They published the results of their findings in the journal Landschap. People in the Netherlands can experience fear if they encounter Scottish highlander cattle, bats, owls, herons, snakes, spiders and insects. The forces of nature also inspire fear, such as wind or waves that cause a boat to capsize. Nature can be overwhelming through its scale, and many are unsettled if they get lost in the dark. Fear of nature can lead to intense emotions, which are experienced as meaningful by many people. Van den Berg believes her work corresponds with the results of American research on experiences of the wilderness, which showed that confronting one’s fear of nature among participants in wilderness excursions resulted in more self confidence and inner peace. / MW