Nature connectedness

Nature connectedness is the extent to which individuals include nature as part of their identity.[1] It includes an understanding of nature and everything it is made up of, even the parts that are not pleasing.[2] Characteristics of nature connectedness are similar to those of a personality trait: nature connectedness is stable over time and across various situations.[3] Schultz[1] describes three components that make up the nature connectedness construct:

  • The cognitive component is the core of nature connectedness and refers to how integrated one feels with nature.
  • The affective component is an individual’s sense of care for nature.
  • The behavioral component is an individual’s commitment to protect the natural environment.

These three components make up nature connectedness and are required for a healthy relationship with nature. If an individual feels connected to nature (possibly by spending time in it), they may be more inclined to care about nature, and protect the environment.[1]Recent research has found that nature exposure (and feeling connected to nature at a trait level) provides many benefits to humans such as well-being.[4]

Other researchers describe the nature connectedness construct in a simpler manner. For instance, nature connectedness can be thought of as a love of nature (also referred to as emotional affinity toward nature).[5] Similarly, nature connectedness can be defined as how much a person believes they are the same as nature (more specifically, a person’s connectivity with nature)[6] or it can be thought of as simply feeling emotionally connected with nature.[7] Nature connectedness (as a construct) is also known as nature relatedness, connectivity with nature, emotional affinity toward nature, or inclusion of nature in self.

Although nature relatedness is a stable individual trait, it can change based on one’s experience with nature,[8] meaning the more time an individual spends in nature, the more connected they feel to nature and the more concern they may feel for nature.[2][7][9] Feeling connected to nature at a state level has many benefits as well such as more positive moods and less negative moods.[2][7]

Even though humans derive many benefits from nature, our modern lifestyles have created a disconnect from the natural environment wherein we spend significantly more time indoors. Some researchers estimate that humans spend up to 90% of their lives indoors.[10] This disconnection from nature can have a negative impact on humans because we are missing out on the beneficial effects of nature. As a result, we are less connected to nature and feel less responsibility to protect this environment.[1]

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