Nature Relatedness Research


What is Nature Relatedness?


    Nature relatedness (NR) describes individual levels of connectedness with the natural world.  Nature relatedness is not unlike the deep ecology concept of an ecological self, the notion of a self-construal that includes the natural world.  NR is an appreciation for and understanding of our interconnectedness with all other living things on the earth.  NR is distinct from environmentalism in that it is comprised of much more than activism.  Nor is it simply a love for nature, or enjoyment of only the superficially pleasing facets of nature, such as sunsets and snowflakes.  NR is an understanding of the importance of all aspects of nature, even those that are not aesthetically appealing or useful to humans, such as mosquitoes, mice, death, and decay.


    NR comprises the cognitive, affective, and physical connection we have with nature.  NR is an internalized identification with nature - feelings and thoughts about one’s personal connection to nature.  NR also is reflected in an external perspective, a nature-related world view, or a sense of agency concerning individual human actions and their impact on all living things.  NR may reflect a physical familiarity with the natural world, a level of comfort with and desire to be out in nature most evident in those who are drawn to the wilderness, and who are aware of and fascinated with nature all around them.


The NR Scale:     Nature Relatedness Scale and scoring


(Please let us know if you plan to conduct research with the NR scale how you will be using it, and the results afterwards.)


The development and validation of the NR scale is described in:

Nisbet, E. K., Zelenski, J. M., & Murphy, S. A. (2009). The Nature Relatedness Scale: Linking individuals’ connection with nature to environmental concern and behavior. Environment and Behavior, 41, 715-740.

Past and Current NR Research:   

Investigating the effects of environmental education on nature relatedness and well-being.

Examining the effects of positive and negative framing on environmental messages.

Studying the influence of outdoor experiences on NR, well-being, and environmental concern.

Exploring affective forecasting related to time in nature, and individual differences in estimation of the psychological benefits associated with the natural environment.

Creating NR interventions, aimed at increasing connectedness to nature, environmental concern, and well-being.

Testing health behaviour change models in environmental contexts. Framing environmental issues as health issues.

Linking (dis)connection, materialism, and consumption-based happiness.

Testing the benefits of connectedness with nature, compared to general connectedness.

My colleague, Dr. John M. Zelenski, also studies NR:  

Nisbet, E. K., Zelenski, J. M., & Murphy, S. A. (2011). Happiness is in our nature: Exploring nature relatedness as a contributor to subjective well-being. Journal of Happiness Studies, 12, 303-322, doi: 10.1007/s10902-010-9197-7

Zelenski, J. M., & Nisbet, E. K. (2012). Happiness and feeling connected: The distinct role of nature relatedness.  Environment and Behavior, 1-21. Published online before print, doi: 10.1177/0013916512451901

NR’s links with well-being are described in:

Nisbet, E. K., & Zelenski, J. M. (2011). Underestimating nearby nature: Affective forecasting errors obscure the happy path to sustainability. Psychological Science, 22(9), 1101-1106.

The happiness underestimates of NR and nature contact are described in: