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Does Nature Promote Happiness?

I am not a “nature person.” I prefer to stay indoors for the majority of the day. I remember years ago hearing that being close to nature makes people happy, so lately I have been trying to be in the outdoors more.

Was what I heard years ago correct?

According to Kellert and Wilson, because humans spent most of their evolutionary history in a natural environment, the identification, attraction, and need for connectedness with nature remains in modern psychology.[1]

In fact, staying away from nature may be detrimental to emotional well being, since research has shown the link between nature and happiness.[2][3][4][5]

One reason for the link between happiness and nature is theorized by Ryan and Deci to be due to general “connectedness.”[6] For example, social connectedness is related to well-being, so “nature connectedness” may be as well.

Another reason, as theorized by Mayer and Frantz, is explained by the connection between individuals with a strong sense of nature connectedness and sense of self.[7] “Their sense of self may view harm done to nature as harm done to themselves.”

Due to urbanization and many people spending more time indoors, we could be missing out on the psychological and physical benefits of nature.

I should probably finish my work outside now.

Real Talk.


1 Kellert, S. R., and Wilson, E. O. (eds.). (1993). The Biophilia Hypothesis. Washington, DC: Island Press.

2 Mayer, F. S., Frantz, C. M., Bruehlman-Senecal, E., and Dolliver, K. (2009). Why is nature beneficial? The role of connectedness to nature. Environ. Behav. 41, 607–643. doi: 10.1177/0013916508319745

3 Nisbet, E. K. (2011). A Nature Relatedness Intervention to Promote Happiness and Environmental Concern. Unpublished doctoral thesis, Carleton University, Ottawa, ON.

4 MacKerron, G., and Mourato, S. (2013). Happiness is greater in natural environments. Glob. Environ. Change 23, 992–1000. doi: 10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2013.03.010

5 White, M. P., Alcock, I., Wheeler, B. W., and Depledge, M. H. (2013). Would you be happier living in a greener urban area? A fixed-effects analysis of panel data. Psychol. Sci. 24, 920–928. doi: 10.1177/0956797612464659

6 Berman, M. G., Kross, E., Krpan, K. M., Askren, M. K., Burson, A., Deldin, P. J., et al. (2012). Interacting with nature improves cognition and affect for individuals with depression. J. Affect. Disord. 140, 300–305. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2012.03.012

7 Mayer, F. S., and Frantz, C. M. (2004). The connectedness to nature scale: a measure of individuals' feeling in community with nature. J. Environ. Psychol. 24, 503–515. doi: 10.1016/j.jenvp.2004.10.001

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