Being in the natural environment is linked to higher satisfaction with life, new research finds.
People were particularly satisfied if they felt their natural environment was being well managed.
Dr Kelly Biedenweg, the study’s first author, said:
“Whether people feel like things are fair and they have a voice in process of making decisions and whether governance is transparent — those are the foundations of why people even can interact with nature.”
The results come from a survey of 4,000 residents of the Puget Sound region of Washington State.
They measured 13 factors that might link to life satisfaction.
Dr Biedenweg said:
“Eleven of the 13 had a positive correlation to overall life satisfaction.
The links between ecological conditions, like drinking water and air quality, and objective well-being have been studied quite a bit, but the connection between various aspects of engaging the natural environment and overall subjective well-being have rarely been looked at.
We wanted to identify the relative importance of diverse, nature-oriented experiences on a person’s overall life satisfaction assessment and statistically prove the relationship between happiness/life satisfaction and engaging with nature in many different ways.”
Nature is beneficial to life satisfaction in six ways, the researchers found:
- Social and cultural events,
- trust in governance,
- access to local wild resources,
- sense of place,
- outdoor recreation,
- and psychological benefits from time outdoors.
Dr Biedenweg said:
“Controlling for demographics, all were significantly related to life satisfaction.
The fact that trust in governance was a significant predictor of life satisfaction — in fact, the most statistically significant predictor of the ones we looked at — it was nice to see that come out of the research.
The way we manage is the gateway to people being able to get livelihoods and satisfaction from nature.”
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The study was published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology (Beidenweg et al., 2017).