First semester undergraduate lab member Victoria recently gave a presentation on the article titled Why is nature beneficial?: The role of connectedness to nature. The study wanted to directly investigate the relationship between nature and well-being, with a sense of belonging to the natural world as the primary mechanism. Prior studies focus on the restorative qualities of nature without exploring the other possible mediating factors. The major research questions asked were: (1) does an increase in connectedness to nature mediate nature’s effect on positive mood? and (2) does exposure to nature affect participants’ ability to reflect on their personal problems? The authors proposed the questions to determine the extent to which an individual’s environment can be healing. To answer these questions, the researchers randomly assigned a group of college students into two groups, one of which would spend 10 minutes on a walk in a nature preserve, the other group walking around a downtown urban environment. After the 10 minute walk, each group was given 5 minutes of reflection time and then filled out a survey to measure (1) connectedness to nature, (2) positive and negative affect, and (3) situational self-awareness.
The analysis revealed that the ability to reflect was significantly correlated with connectedness to nature and positive affect while negatively correlating with public self-awareness. This suggests that if individuals are less concerned with appearance to others, they can better pay attention to what they are experiencing internally. Overall, the study shows strong support for connectedness to nature as a mediator of nature’s effects on well-being and increased reflection skills. Victoria has a strong passion for the outdoors and believes that once the mechanisms of nature’s healing effects are identified, nature can be used more effectively in clinical practice. She hopes that this research will help practitioners explore nature’s health benefits outside of the more common uses like attention restoration and stress recovery. Great work, Victoria! We are excited to learn more!