Happiness and Feeling Connected The Distinct Role of Nature Relatedness John M. Zelenski, Elizabeth K. Nisbet

Subjective connection with nature, or nature relatedness, is similar to other environmental worldview measures in predicting sustainable attitudes and behaviors, yet is unique in predicting happiness. In two studies, the authors assessed the overlap between nature relatedness and other subjective connections (e.g., with friends or country) and examined these connections as a possible confound in explaining the link between nature relatedness and happiness. Study 1 adapted a measure of general connectedness and administered it to student (n = 331) and community (n = 415) samples along with multiple nature relatedness and happiness indicators. Study 2 examined more established measures of subjective connections in another community sample (n = 204). General connectedness predicted happiness well, yet nature relatedness remained a significant distinct predictor of many happiness indicators, even after controlling for other connections. Results support the notion that nature relatedness could be a path to human happiness and environmental sustainability, though confirming this causal direction requires additional research.

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Author Biographies

John M. Zelenski is an associate professor of psychology at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada. He studies individual differences in happiness and the causes and consequences of social and environmentally sustainable behaviors.

Elizabeth K. Nisbet is an assistant professor in the Psychology Department at Trent University in Peterborough, Canada. Her research encompasses personality, social, health, and environmental psychology, exploring individual differences in “nature relatedness” and the links between human–nature relationships, happiness, and sustainable behavior.




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