Exploring family values, social norms, and experiences of nature can enhance connection to nature

Oh, R. ., Fielding, K. ., Nghiem, L. ., Chang, C. ., Carrasco, L. ., & Fuller, R. . (2021). Connection to nature is predicted by family values, social norms and personal experiences of nature. Global Ecology and Conservation, 26. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gecco.2021.e01632

This study investigated the inter-relationships between family values (biospheric, altruistic, and egoist), social norms, experiences of nature, and three sub-components that underpin a person's connection to nature – cognitive, affective and experiential. Understanding these factors may provide insight into developing public support for nature conservation.

A survey was conducted with 1519 adult respondents in Singapore to assess the three dimensions of nature relatedness. The respondents completed the survey online, and were stratified by gender, age, income, and greenery surrounding their residence. The survey respondents rated 21 statements on a Likert scale. The respondents' experiences of nature were measured by the duration and frequency of respondents' direct experiences of nature in public greenspaces and private or community gardens. The respondents' responses to statements on family values were aggregated to determine how strong that value was within their family. Social norms related to time spent in nature using two references groups – family and friends. The surveys were analyzed and fitted on a model, and correlations between all three values were also examined.

Duration and frequency of visits to public greenspaces and gardens predicted higher values on all three sub-components of connection to nature. Family values were significantly associated with the three sub-components of connection to nature. Specifically, biospheric and altruistic family values predicted higher scores on the cognitive sub-component of connection to nature, while egoistic values predicted lower cores on this sub-component. The effect of biospheric values on the cognitive sub-component was also mediated through family and friend social norms, and experiences of nature. Biospheric family values also predicted higher affective and experiential sub-components of connection to nature. The effect of biospheric values on both sub-components was also mediated through family and friend social norms and experiences of nature.

This research highlights the importance of values for predicting concern for the environment. Strategies that appeal to and strengthen biospheric family values and interventions that make spending time in nature with family a social norm can also enhance the connection to nature. The study suggests that further exploration into the roles of personal and family values to understand which is the more proximal predictor connection with nature would be beneficial.

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