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Problematic mobile phone use inhibits aesthetic emotion with nature: The roles of presence and openness

Abstract

The connection between humans and nature seems to be one of increasing alienation. The use of digital technology, especially its problematic use, may affect this ongoing alienation. This study seeks to investigate how and when problematic technology use is associated with the human-nature connection, especially the emotional connection. Specifically, the study examined the mediating role played by presence and the moderating role played by openness with respect to the association between problematic mobile phone use (PMPU) and aesthetic emotion with nature (AEWN). A sample of 891 participants completed a battery of self-report questionnaires measuring PMPU, AEWN, presence, and openness. The results showed that PMPU was negatively associated with AEWN, and that this association was partially mediated by presence. In addition, openness moderated both the direct relationship between PMPU and AEWN and the indirect relationship between those factors via presence. These two effects were weaker for individuals with higher levels of openness. The current study provides new evidence concerning the negative influence of escalating digital technology use on the emotional connection to nature and contributes to the literature by uncovering the mechanisms underlying this influence.

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Data Availability

The datasets generated and/or during analyzed during the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.

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Acknowledgements

We thank all the participants for their efforts on the study. We also thank editor and reviewers for their work for this paper. We would like to express our deep gratitude to Yunfei Wang and Kayani Sumaira for their contribution to our research.

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Lingfeng Gao executed the study and wrote the paper. Haide Chen and Weijian Li collaborated with the design. Yiwei Zhang and Xinwei Li collaborated in the writing and editing of the final manuscript. Ying Chen recruited participants.

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Correspondence to Haide Chen.

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Gao, L., Zhang, Y., Chen, H. et al. Problematic mobile phone use inhibits aesthetic emotion with nature: The roles of presence and openness. Curr Psychol (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12144-022-03175-y

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Keywords

  • Problematic mobile phone use
  • Aesthetic emotion with nature
  • Presence
  • Openness
  • Human-nature connection