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Do people who feel connected to nature do more to protect it? A meta-analysis

Mackay, Caroline M.L., Schmitt, Michael T.
Journal of environmental psychology 2019 v.65 pp. 101323
demography, meta-analysis, psychology
Using meta-analysis, we examined whether there is evidence consistent with the idea that a subjective sense of “connection to nature” promotes pro-environmental behaviour (PEB; Mayer & Frantz, 2004; Nisbet, Zelenski, & Murphy, 2009). Analysis of correlational data (k = 75) provided compelling evidence for a strong and robust association between nature connection and PEB (r = 0.37). Nature connection was positively associated with PEB across different operationalizations of nature connection, across different PEB measures (i.e., behavioural intentions, self-reports of behaviour, and observed behaviour), and across various sample and demographic characteristics. We found no evidence of publication bias in correlational studies. For experimental manipulations of nature connection (k = 17), however, there was clear evidence of publication bias in favour of studies reporting positive effects. We addressed this bias by including unpublished studies in the meta-analysis, and found a small, significant causal effect of nature connection on PEB (d = 0.21, r = 0.10). We conclude that more experimental data with better quality manipulations of nature connection are needed. Nonetheless, the strong and robust association between nature connection and PEB, as well as evidence that nature connection causes PEB, suggest that nature connection is a promising avenue for promoting PEB.