Skip to main content

Human–nature connectedness as a ‘treatment’ for pro-environmental behavior: making the case for spatial considerations

Abstract

The degree to which an individual feels connected to the natural world can be a positive predictor of pro-environmental behavior (PEB). This has led to calls to ‘reconnect to nature’ as a ‘treatment’ for PEB. What is not clear is the relationship between where one feels connected to nature and where one acts pro-environmentally. We propose that integrating spatial scale into the conceptualization of these constructs will provide insights into how different degrees of connectedness influence pro-environmental behavior. We discuss trends towards a spatial understanding of human–nature connectedness (HNC) and introduce three archetypes that highlight scalar relationships between scale of connectedness and scale of pro-environmental behavior: (1) equal interactions, (2) embedded interactions, and (3) extended interactions. We discuss potential policy and practice implications of taking a spatially explicit approach to HNC–PEB research, and propose a research agenda for investigating these scalar relationships that can inform nature as a ‘treatment’ intervention.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1

References

Download references

Acknowledgements

This research is supported by the VolkswagenStiftung and the Niedersächsisches Ministerium für Wissenshaft und Kultur funded project “Leverage Points for Sustainability Transformation: Institutions, People and Knowledge” (Grant number A112269). The authors thank Christopher D. Ives, Maraja Riechers, Christian Dorninger, and Ioana A. Duse for their helpful feedback during the development of this paper.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Kathleen Klaniecki.

Additional information

Handled by Graham Epstein, University of Waterloo Faculty of Environment, Canada.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Klaniecki, K., Leventon, J. & Abson, D.J. Human–nature connectedness as a ‘treatment’ for pro-environmental behavior: making the case for spatial considerations. Sustain Sci 13, 1375–1388 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11625-018-0578-x

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11625-018-0578-x

Keywords

  • Nature connectedness
  • Pro-environmental behavior
  • Local-to-global scales
  • Nature as treatment
  • Sustainability