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Description: I hope you already know that spending time out in nature is good for you. If not, have a look at one or two of the articles listed in the Further Reading section below. Given the positive relationship that has been observed between time in nature and well-being, how would you design a study to look at how this relationship played out during Covid-related restrictions. Think about the things you would need to control for. Perhaps people who are already better off in terms of well-being, choose to spend more time in nature. What are people who make such choices like? What sorts of impacts might variations in local conditions and restrictions have on this question. Once you have your thought ordered, have a rad through the article linked below to see a description of a rather well-designed study looking at these questions. Be sure to look through the limitations section at the bottom to see if your concerns or issues lined up with theirs.

Source: Exploring the Relationships Among Experiences in Nature, Wellbeing, and Stewardship During the COVID-19 Pandemic, Dietlinde Heilmayr, Erica N. Baranski and Travis J. Miller, Frontiers in Psychology.

Date: September 24, 2022

Image by Larisa-K from Pixabay

Article Link:

It was encouraging, I think, to see that being Covid-restricted seemed to re-awaken an interest in nature-related activities, especially given the other data on how those experiences relate to well-being. It is also interesting that time in nature did not seem to be related to commitment of time or resources to nature supporting endeavors. This reminded me of some unpublished work a student of mine conducted a while back showing that in addition to feeling or issues of stewardship of (caring for) nature, many people seem to hold to some of the hopefully increasingly dated view that we have dominion over nature and can use it as we please. The authors’ limitations discussion is very good and worth reflecting upon nit just for how it relates to their study but what it suggests we keep in mind about a lot of research.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Is time in nature related to well-being?
  2. What sorts of things make it hard to clearly answer the above question?
  3. What might we take away from this research and potentially apply if there are lock-downs or related public health restrictions in future?

References (Read Further):

Bratman, G. N., Daily, G. C., Levy, B. J., and Gross, J. J. (2015). Landscape and urban planning the benefits of nature experience: improved affect and cognition. Landscape Urban Plan. 138, 41–50. Link

Capaldi, C. A., Dopko, R. L., and Zelenski, J. M. (2014). The relationship between nature connectedness and happiness: a meta-analysis. Front. Psychol. 5, 976 Link

Capaldi, C., Passmore, H. A., Nisbet, E., Zelenski, J., and Dopko, R. (2015). Flourishing in nature: a review of the benefits of connecting with nature and its application as a well-being intervention. Int. J. Wellbeing 5, 1–16 Link

Oh, B., Lee, K. J., Zaslawski, C., Yeung, A., Rosenthal, D., Larkey, L., et al. (2017). Health and well-being benefits of spending time in forests: systematic review. Environ. Health Prev. Med. 22, 71. Link

Castelo, N., White, K., and Goode, M. R. (2021). Nature promotes self-transcendence and prosocial behavior. J. Environ. Psychol. 76, 101639. Link