Behavioural determinants of human and planetary health: the role of nature contact and nature connectedness.
MetadataShow full item record
The benefits of natural environments for health and wellbeing are well-established, but less is known about their links human behaviour. This thesis presents a conceptual model proposing that increased contact with - and psychological connection to – nature will be associated with: a) a lower prevalence of health risk behaviours, and b) greater engagement with pro-environmental behaviours, via positive affect, negative affect, community cohesion and temporal discounting. Studies 1-3 used representative cross-sectional datasets to systematically investigate the associations between different types of nature contact, nature connectedness and behavioural outcomes. Study 4 used a bespoke cross-sectional survey to test the full conceptual model, including the proposed mediators. It was found that nature-behaviour associations differ, in both direction and strength, as a function of: a) the type of nature contact, and b) behavioural outcome. Specifically, after accounting for a range of covariates, residential nature contact (greenspace, green views) was associated with a lower prevalence of health risk behaviours (current smoking, exceeding alcohol guidelines, poor diets), as well as greater engagement household pro-environmental behaviours. Intentional nature contact (nature visits) was linked to a lower prevalence of poor diets and greater engagement in household pro-environmental behaviours. Indirect nature contact (watching/listening to nature media) was associated with a higher prevalence of current smoking and exceeding alcohol guidelines, as well as a lower prevalence of poor diets and more sustainable behaviours across domains (household, nature conservation). Nature connectedness was most consistently related to a lower prevalence of poor diets and greater engagement in pro-environmental behaviours (household, nature conservation). There was evidence that, under some circumstances, nature connectedness moderated nature-behaviour associations. Additionally, associations between nature contact/connectedness and behavioural outcomes were mediated by somewhat different combinations of positive affect, negative affect, community cohesion and temporal discounting. The complexity of the findings indicates that a more nuanced approach to the study of human-nature interactions is likely to be necessary to inform integrated environmental policies that are beneficial to both human and planetary health.