Exposure to nature may help reduce levels of violence and aggressive behaviour among inmates in high security prisons, suggests a new research, adding that even watching nature videos can help them.

The findings showed that prison inmates who viewed nature videos showed reduced levels of aggression and were less likely to be disciplined than those in similar lock-ups.

"We need nature for our physical and psychological well-being," said Oregon-based psychotherapist Patricia H. Hasbach.

"Although direct contact with real nature is most effective, studies have shown that even indirect nature exposure can provide temporary relief from psychological stress in daily life," Hasbach added.

Further, negative emotions and behaviours such as aggression, distress, irritability and nervousness were reduced following the viewing of videos and lasted for several hours post-viewing.

The inmates who watched the nature videos committed 26 per cent fewer violent infractions.

"This is equivalent to 13 fewer violent incidents over the year, a substantial reduction in real world conditions, since nearly all such events result in injuries to inmates or officers," Hasbach said.

For the study, the team analysed a cellblock at The Snake River Correctional Institution in Oregon that housed 48 inmates.

Half of the inmates were provided nature videos to view during their scheduled indoor recreation time (three to four times per week over the course of a year).

Content included images of diverse biomes (e.g., ocean, forest, rivers), aquarium scenes, a fireplace with burning logs, Earth viewed from space and cloud fly-throughs.

The experiment may also act as a model for other correctional facilities to help limit stress, mental fatigue, violence and other negative behaviours among the prisoners, the researchers suggested.

The results were presented at the recently held American Psychological Association’s 124th Annual Convention in Denver, US.