Humans’ disconnection from the natural world may contribute to environmental problems, poor health, and low psychological well-being. Conversely, spending time in nature or experiencing a strong subjective sense of connection with nature appears to have considerable benefits for people. For example, exposure to nature can reduce aggression, increase prosocial behaviour, improve mood, reduce stress, restore attentional resources, and promote recovery from illness. Beyond actual exposure to natural environments, people's subjective sense of connection with nature, or nature relatedness, seems to confer some similar benefits. For example, the self-report Nature Relatedness Scale has been administered to thousands of research participants and consistently predicts sustainable attitudes and behaviours and a variety of well-being indicators. Moreover, environmental education seems to increase nature relatedness which then seems to promote vitality and sustainable attitudes. Dr. Zelenski will review recent empirical work that has examined the effects of nature exposure and nature relatedness. Furthermore, he will examine the potential of a 'happy path to sustainability' whereby fostering nature contact and a strong sense of nature relatedness might produce substantial benefits for both individuals and the planet.
More about our speaker:
John M. Zelenski is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at Carleton University where he began working in 2002 after completing degrees at Northwestern University (B.A.), the University of Michigan (M.A.), and Washington University in St. Louis (Ph.D.). He studies individual differences in happiness, and how personality manifests itself 'in the moment' as emotional and cognitive processes. Recent work has focused on the causes and consequences of extraversion and social behaviour, and the links among people’s sense of connection with nature, happiness, and sustainable behaviour. His research is supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the Ontario Research Fund, and the Canadian Foundation for Innovation.
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