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Associations between Nature Exposure and Health: A Review of the Evidence
Review

Time Spent in Nature Is Associated with Increased Pro-Environmental Attitudes and Behaviors

1
Department of Epidemiology, Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA 02115, USA
2
Channing Division of Network Medicine, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA
3
Department of Environmental Health, Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA 02115, USA
4
Population Health Sciences, Harvard University, Boston, MA 02115, USA
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Department of Nutrition, Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA 02115, USA
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Department of Anthropology, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL 60208, USA
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School of Environmental and Forest Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, USA
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Faculty of Health, Gold Coast Campus, Southern Cross University, Gold Coast 4225, Australia
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Department of Psychology, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, USA
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Department of Population Medicine, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
These authors contributed equally to this article.
Academic Editor: Soumya Mazumdar
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(14), 7498; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18147498
Received: 26 May 2021 / Revised: 2 July 2021 / Accepted: 5 July 2021 / Published: 14 July 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Greenspaces and Health: Measures and Methods)
Urbanization, screen dependency, and the changing nature of childhood and parenting have led to increased time indoors, creating physical and emotional distancing from nature and time spent in natural environments. Substantial evidence from observational and intervention studies indicates that overall time spent in nature leads to increased perceived value for connectedness to nature and, subsequently, greater pro-environmental attitudes and behaviors (PEAB). This narrative review of the recent literature evaluates associations between time spent in nature with values ascribed to nature and nature connectedness, as well as PEAB. We discuss the influence of nature exposure and education in childhood on subsequent development of PEAB in adulthood. We analyze theoretical frameworks applied to this research as well as metrics employed, populations studied, and individual and societal values before presenting limitations of this research. We conclude with suggestions for future research directions based on current knowledge, underscoring the importance of promoting time spent in nature and PEAB in the face of growing challenges to planetary health. Research indicates that overall time spent in nature, regardless of the quality of environmental conditions, leads to increased perceived values ascribed to nature, which is associated with PEAB; however, this literature is predominantly cross-sectional. Furthermore, personal and social factors may influence PEAB. Thus, more longitudinal studies that consider these factors are needed to assess the duration and frequency of time spent in nature in childhood and its impact on PEAB throughout the life course. Identifying contexts which cultivate PEAB and reverse alienation from nature beginning in childhood may better sensitize adults to the urgency of environmental issues such as climate change, which adversely impact individual and environmental health. View Full-Text
Keywords: nature; nature exposure; time in nature; nature affinity; environmental values; pro-environmentalism; environmental education; nature experience; environmental attitudes; environmental behaviors nature; nature exposure; time in nature; nature affinity; environmental values; pro-environmentalism; environmental education; nature experience; environmental attitudes; environmental behaviors
MDPI and ACS Style

DeVille, N.V.; Tomasso, L.P.; Stoddard, O.P.; Wilt, G.E.; Horton, T.H.; Wolf, K.L.; Brymer, E.; Kahn, P.H., Jr.; James, P. Time Spent in Nature Is Associated with Increased Pro-Environmental Attitudes and Behaviors. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18, 7498. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18147498

AMA Style

DeVille NV, Tomasso LP, Stoddard OP, Wilt GE, Horton TH, Wolf KL, Brymer E, Kahn PH Jr., James P. Time Spent in Nature Is Associated with Increased Pro-Environmental Attitudes and Behaviors. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2021; 18(14):7498. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18147498

Chicago/Turabian Style

DeVille, Nicole V., Linda P. Tomasso, Olivia P. Stoddard, Grete E. Wilt, Teresa H. Horton, Kathleen L. Wolf, Eric Brymer, Peter H. Kahn Jr., and Peter James. 2021. "Time Spent in Nature Is Associated with Increased Pro-Environmental Attitudes and Behaviors" International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 18, no. 14: 7498. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18147498

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