Connection to the Natural World: Interventions to Increase Pro-Environmental Perception, Attitude and Behavior, Tara Patterson

As human-induced climate change becomes a more popular subject researchers are conducting studies on how we can change course and reverse environmental degradation. One of the psychological theories in the field remains that human-nature connectedness could clearly effects how one acts towards the environment. There is research that demonstrates how over time our relationship with nature has changed and has become less important in people’s minds. It is popular opinion that this disconnection is causing a large portion of our environmental crisis. The challenge then becomes; how do we get people connected back to nature to the point where they increase their pro-environmental perception, attitude and behavior. The research reviewed in this study shows three separate ways this could be accomplished. One way is through the Norm-Activation Model which has people see that their actions have a direct effect on the environment and they take responsibility for their actions. Another way is through experiences in Nature. As we have moved from a rural to urban community we have lost the wonderment of the natural world around us and have forgotten how vital it actually is to our everyday life. The last theory we reviewed that could potentially affect people’s favorability toward the environment is implementing a mindfulness practice. Meditation and mindfulness have the potential to connect people back to their true selves and true values. As people connect back to their true values they disassociate with the over consuming western society and naturally start to implement sustainable behaviors into their daily lives. In order to test these three theories, a survey was sent out to 30 participants to gage where they stand in their perceptions, attitudes and behaviors regarding the environment and sustainability. After the researcher received the results of that survey, the same participants were broken out into three groups. Each group was given a different intervention that tied back to the three theories. When the results of the experiment came back it was clear that an intervention could indeed increase one’s pro- environmental perception, attitude and behavior. There was a 5% increase in favorability towards the environment and sustainability. The intervention that produced the highest increase in favorability toward the environment and sustainability was the one that tied back to mindfulness. This intervention had participants sit outside, do a breathing exercise to connect them to themselves and were them prompted to think about how the natural world effects each of their senses. The whole intervention took 10-15 minutes and produced an 8% increase in favorability towards the environment and sustainability. While the results produced an increase in pro-environmental perceptions, attitudes and behaviors it is recommended that the next study use more participants to be able to generalize the results and create an intervention that public service members can use to re-connect our communities back to their natural environment in a way that the environment will be protected and not exploited.

Quick Links

Follow us

Scroll to Top