Getting naked makes you happier... just ask a Yorkshire polar bear

Casting off clothes as well as cares may be the key to happiness and well-being, suggests research that involved looking at polar bears in Yorkshire.

Victor the polar bear, at Yorkshire Wildlife Park.
Victor the polar bear, at Yorkshire Wildlife Park.

Scientists revealed the naked truth after investigating the psychological effects of nudism.

They found that people taking part in naturist activities felt better about themselves, their bodies and their lives overall.

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The more time they spent naked, or partially disrobed, the happier they were.

Lead researcher Dr Keon West, from Goldsmiths, University of London, said: “The naturists have been saying this for some time.

“However, despite a lot of positive claims, little to no empirical research has investigated whether naturist activity (rather than attitude or beliefs) actually makes us happier or, just as importantly, why it makes us happier.”

Two of the studies took place at a “Bare all for Polar Bears” event at Yorkshire Wildlife Park and British Naturism’s Waterworld event in Stoke-on-Trent.

At both events, participants were psychologically assessed just before shedding their clothes and before getting dressed again.

In each case people experienced “immediate and significant improvements in body-image, self-esteem and life satisfaction” when free of their clothes.

In another study, an online survey of 850 British citizens found higher levels of contentment and positive body image among those who spent significant amounts of time wholly or partially naked in public.

Analysis of the data suggested that seeing other people naked was more important than being naked yourself.

The findings appear in the Journal of Happiness Studies.

Dr West pointed out that for a long time many people, including health experts, assumed that public nudity was a sign of psychological dysfunction.

He thought more research was needed involving a wider range of participants. Most of of those taking part in the survey were white, heterosexual and middle-aged.

Naturism may offer a low-cost and simple solution to body dissatisfaction, Dr West added.

“At the very least, this is worth investigating,” he said.