Are you looking to improve your overall life satisfaction? Regularly try to hike in a forest or otherwise engage in the natural environment.
And then, for good measure, look for ways to earn your trust in the scientists and decision-makers involved in managing the forest you enjoy hiking in.
New research at Oregon State University empirically demonstrates that a variety of mechanisms for engaging nature significantly contribute to a person’s overall well-being.
Foremost among these, the study found, was whether people believed their surrounding environment was well managed – for income generation and the foundation for cultural practices as well as for the pursuit of recreation.
“That people think things are right and that they have a voice in the decision-making process and that governance is transparent – these are the foundations of why people can even interact with nature,” said lead author Kelly Biedenweg of the OSU College of Agricultural Sciences. .
Biedenweg, assistant professor in the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, and collaborators from Colorado State University and the University of Georgia analyzed the results of more than 4,400 respondents to an online survey conducted in the Puget Sound area. , in Washington State.
The researchers used 13 different measures to illustrate the relationship between overall life satisfaction and engagement in the natural environment. These measures included community activities, access to wild resources, stress relieved by time spent outdoors, and trust in decision-makers.
“Eleven of the 13 had a positive correlation with overall life satisfaction,” said Biedenweg, a social scientist who studies both how humans benefit from the natural environment and the impact of human actions on it. this. âThe links between ecological conditions, such as drinking water and air quality, and objective well-being have been studied extensively, but the link between various aspects of engagement in the natural environment and good -Being global subjective has rarely been examined. “
âWe wanted to identify the relative importance of diverse and nature-oriented experiences on the overall assessment of a person’s life satisfaction and statistically prove the relationship between happiness / life satisfaction and engagement with life. nature in many different ways. “
Researchers quantified the relationship between well-being and six common mechanisms by which nature affects well-being: social and cultural events; confidence in governance; access to local wild resources; sense of belonging; outdoor recreation; and the psychological benefits of time spent outdoors.
âBy controlling for demographics, all of them were significantly related to life satisfaction,â Biedenweg said. âThe fact that trust in governance was a significant predictor of life satisfaction – in fact, the most statistically significant predictor of those we looked at – it was nice to see this emerge from the research. we manage is the gateway to people who can obtain livelihood and satisfaction from nature. “
The results were recently published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology. The National Science Foundation and the Environmental Protection Agency supported this research.
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