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Children’s restorative experiences and self-reported environmental behaviors

Summary


Children’s perceived restoration from nature influences their care and concern for the natural world

This study aimed to understand the factors that influence the relationship between children’s connection to nature and pro-environmental behaviors.   The authors predicted that children’ perceived restoration from views of their schoolyard would predict their environmental behavior directly, as well as indirectly, through their attitudes toward the environment.

Set in Spain, the authors examined the effect of 20 schoolyards on children’s perceived restoration in nature, conducting surveys with a total of 832 children ranging in age from 6 to 12 years, approximately half boys and half girls, and most from middle class backgrounds. Using the Nearby Naturalness Observation Scale, the authors assessed the level of naturalness surrounding the school as seen from the classroom window.  Twelve of those schools were rated as possessing a medium/high amount of nature and eight schools were rated as low/no nature.

In order to understand children’s perception of their schoolyard, the authors used the Perceived Restorativeness Components Scale for Children II and the Children’s Environmental Perceptions Scale.  Additionally, authors asked children to rate their pro-environmental behaviors based on five simple actions children are most likely to take.

The findings reveal that 55.3% of students perceived their schoolyard as highly restorative, regardless of level of naturalness.  However, natural schoolyards were rated significantly higher across all measures than nonnatural schoolyards.  Findings further show that children’s perceived restorativeness indirectly predicted children’s self-reported environmental behaviors, through their environmental attitudes. This finding is in line with other studies, particularly with adults, that suggest that the influence of nature’s restorativeness on environmental behaviors is mediated by one’s care and concern for the natural world. The authors suggest that perceived restorativeness may help children develop proenvironmental attitudes and behaviors in that children may want to protect an environment from which they have benefitted psychologically.

In addition, the authors found that “fascination” with nature had the strongest relationship, of the five components of the Attention Restoration Theory, with environmental attitudes.

 

 

 

Citation

Collado, S., Corraliza, J. A., (2013). Children’s restorative experiences and self-reported environmental behaviors. Environment and Behavior, 47(1), 38-56.

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