ENO Hammock Research Series Uncovers Glue for Social Bonding

By Natalie DeRatt - March 13, 2015

Asheville, NC - We all know you can take a gratifying nap in a hammock, but what about making better friends? Eagles Nest Outfitters (ENO), the leading provider of packable travel hammocks, and Lyon College say chances are you can. 

In the fourth part of the hammock research series, the college and hammock company investigated levels of creativity, friendship and relaxation in a hammock compared to typical table and chair settings. Examining randomly assigned participants, they discovered students reported better bonding with other participants while hanging in hammocks, providing evidence that hammocks in campus environments can help with student social bonding.

“This is actually a significant finding as colleges are concerned with how to improve the retention of their students – particularly freshmen,” commented Dr. Patrick Mulick, associate professor of psychology at Lyon College. “How to help with the process of social bonding is part of this problem.”

The study, developed by Mulick and other members of Lyon College’s Psychology Department, used groups of three members; the typical way students might meet to work on a group project or study for an exam. Participants were surveyed twice, once before they spent time in the table and chair setting and the hammocks (the Pretest), and again after group creativity tasks were completed (the Posttest). The Pretest measured their mental and physical states, inquiring how close they felt to their peers in the room and a few personality measures to assess levels of relaxation. The Posttest determined any mood, relaxation or connection changes to the group members over the course of the experiment.

Analysis of the data revealed the students who were in the hammocks had more feelings of closeness, peacefulness, and contentment than those sat at the typical desk. The students in the hammock also reported having reduced sweat levels suggesting reduced stress and higher levels of group togetherness compared to sitting in traditional chairs.

According to “Overcoming adversity among low SES students,” and “’It was nothing to do with the university, it was just the people’: the role of social support in the first-year experience of higher education,” stressors and lack of social integration directly influence student’s decisions to stay at university. By providing data proving hammock usage can assist in this support, Adam Cohen, ENO’s Sales Manager and facilitator of the hammock study series, is hopeful it can help colleges for the better.

“We’re excited that the data just keeps growing for the social side of using hammocks and it can be used to support real world colleges,” he said. “Of course one day we hope to see a nation full of hammock campuses, but if we can use it to help schools grow and flourish, it’s a win-win for everybody.”

So far successful, the Lyon College hammock studies will continue by examining levels of competitiveness and cooperation while performing creative tasks in and out of hammocks, and in different environments.