Honors Theses

Date of Award

Spring 5-8-2020

Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Laura Johnson

Second Advisor

Stefan Schulenberg

Third Advisor

Todd Smitherman

Relational Format

Dissertation/Thesis

Abstract

Fostering healthy relationships between humans and the environment is beneficial for people and for the natural world around us. Efforts to foster these relationships are more important now than ever before due to the rapid deterioration of the climate and the growing divide between people and nature. There is abundant research documenting the positive physical, psychological, and social effects of time spent in nature, such as positive mood, life satisfaction, connection to nature, pro-environmental behavior, and feelings of transcendence. However, actual experiences in nature may be inconvenient, inaccessible, or otherwise unavailable. Addressing this concern, researchers are now examining the possible outcomes of experiencing nature by proxy. One approach is through reflecting on and writing about significant life experiences in nature. This study of university students (N = 42) was designed to further investigate human-nature relationships, wellbeing, and sustainable behavior. In particular, it was hypothesized that writing about a positive childhood memory in nature would be associated with higher mood, nature connectedness, life satisfaction, and pro-environmental behavior. Mood outcomes were examined pre- to post intervention using a paired samples t-test followed by a one-way ANOVA. Nature connectedness, life satisfaction, and pro-environmental behavior were examined using a one-way ANOVA. The transcripts from the writing intervention were coded in a qualitative analysis to assess overall themes with particular interest in transcendent values. Results showed that mood was significantly increased from pre- to post intervention, but there was no significant difference between groups. In the test of group differences, the nature writing intervention had a significant effect only on aspects of pro-environmental behavior. In conclusion, this study confirms that autobiographical memory writing can boost mood and that nature writing is associated with environmental behavior intention and transcendence.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

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