Nature connection in adulthood: The role of childhood nature experiences

Alexia Barrable, Samantha Friedman, Vassiliki Beloyianni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

1) Context: Nature connection describes our relationship with the rest of the natural world. Promoting nature connection in children and adults has been identified as a worthwhile focus for education and public health, given the positive associations between nature connection, wellbeing and pro-environmental behaviours. Prior research has looked at activities that promote an individual’s connection to nature, reporting that a variety of interventions can be effective. Particular emphasis has been placed on positive childhood nature experiences due to their effects on adult nature connection. Research from varied places such as New Zealand, Australia, the USA and Brazil suggest that an individual’s childhood nature experiences can play a positive role on their adult connection to nature.
2) Approach: This paper is the first of its kind to explore the associations between childhood nature activities, both their type and frequency, and adult nature connection in a Greek sample (n=401). We gathered the perspectives of Greek-speaking adults using quantitative measures in an online survey.
3) Results: Our results suggest that, in line with previous research, childhood nature experiences were significantly and positively correlated with adult nature connectedness. However, contrary to previous research, analysis suggested that adult nature experiences did not mediate the relationship between childhood nature experience and adult nature connection. Age was positively correlated with less structured childhood nature experiences such that older adults were more likely to have participated in unstructured outdoor activities like flower picking and general alone time outside during childhood.
4) Synthesis and applications: Capturing retrospective self-reports on the frequency and type of childhood nature experiences in this Greek sample helps us understand how these experiences may predict engagement and relationships with nature in adulthood. In turn, these findings inform context-specific recommendations for encouraging nature contact in childhood. For instance, this may have implications for nature-based learning in Greece, as well as the provision of urban green and blue spaces.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPeople and Nature
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 11 Apr 2024

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • nature connection
  • childhood nature experiences
  • adult nature experiences
  • Greece
  • Nature Connection Index

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