In and Of the Wilderness: Ecological Connection Through Participation in Nature
Format: Journal Article
Publication Year: 2014
Pages: 81 - 91
Source ID: shanti-sources-34396
Collection: Contemplation and Ecology
Abstract: Abstract Ecopsychologists theorize that a sense of connection to nonhuman nature inspires empathy that should lead to proenvironmental behavior. Widely used measures of connectedness to nature consist largely of items we suspect may be endorsed by individuals who feel affectively or spiritually connected to nature yet rarely, if ever, subjectively experience their fundamental physical interdependence with the larger ecosystem. In this paper, we borrow the phrase ?participation in nature? (PIN; Elpel, 1999) to refer to activities that involve unmediated intimate interaction with, and immersion in, the wild ecosystem for the purpose of meeting one's basic survival needs. We suggest that these activities represent a form of corporeal connection to nature that is not captured by existing conceptualizations and measures. To explore the relationship between PIN, existing measures of connectedness to nature, and environmental behavior, we surveyed 50 participants at a weeklong earth-living skills gathering, some of whom participate in nature as a lifestyle. As predicted, PIN was significantly positively correlated with connection measures and, like other forms of connection, predicted self-reported environmental decision making. Importantly, regression analyses revealed PIN to be the only significant predictor of green decision making for this particular sample; thus, we consider it a valuable addition to the ecological connection construct. Results of this study and other researchers' recent work point to the importance of conceptually and operationally teasing apart affective, cognitive, and behavioral connections to nature. Key Words: Ecopsychology?Measurement?Connectedness to nature?Primitive skills?Quantitative research.