Understanding the Pathways in the Relationship between Engagement with Nature and Wellbeing
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It is now well established that contact with nature, regardless of activity type or experience, can have positive influences on the physical, psychological, social, and spiritual health and wellbeing of individuals. The biophilia hypothesis, which states that humans have an innate need to connect with nature, is noted in the literature as one of the reasons people accrue benefits from nature. However, there is still limited understanding of the underlying mechanisms at play between time spent outdoors and wellbeing. Using biophilia hypotheses and specifically the biophilic values as a guiding framework, motivation, place attachment, place bonding, and nature relatedness were selected as the constructs that may be the mechanisms further explaining the relationship between engagement with nature and wellbeing. A sample of 663 visitors to a variety of natural areas in Ontario (i.e., national and provincial parks, conservation authority lands, and popular trails such as the Bruce Trail) completed an online survey. Correlations and linear regression analyses were used to determine if significant associations existed between constructs (i.e., motivation, place attachment, place bonding, and nature relatedness), and with engagement with nature and wellbeing. Results revealed that, motivation was highly correlated with place-related constructs, as well as nature relatedness, which is consistent with the conceptual development of the core concepts. Regression analyses showed that nature relatedness, and dimensions of place made a significant contribution to wellbeing outcomes. Subsequently, moderation and mediation analyses were used to assess if constructs affected the relationship between engagement with nature and wellbeing, results revealed that nature relatedness was significant, however, place constructs were not. The lack of anticipated outcomes in the analyses might be attributable to lack of diversity in the sample representing different visitor-types and the recreation specialization of users. Place familiarity, an element of place bonding, might also have been a limiting factor because the sample consisted mostly of long-term, frequent users of the Bruce Trail. Future research should seek to include a broader sample to gain a more holistic insight into possible factors at play driving the engagement with nature-wellbeing relationship beyond mere presence in nature.
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Rebecca Koroll (2019). Understanding the Pathways in the Relationship between Engagement with Nature and Wellbeing. UWSpace. http://hdl.handle.net/10012/15242