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Psychological restoration in nature as a source of motivation for ecological behaviour

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  06 December 2007

Institute for Housing and Urban Research, Uppsala University, Box 785, 80129 Gävle, Sweden
Human-Technology Interaction Department, Eindhoven University of Technology, PO Box 513, 5600 MB Eindhoven, The Netherlands
Faculty for Health and Social Work, Lillehammer University College, 2626 Lillehammer, Norway
*Correspondence: Dr Terry Hartig Tel: +46 26 420 6532 Fax: +46 26 420 6501 e-mail:


People may behave in environmentally friendly ways because they gain psychologically from their experiences in natural environments. Psychological benefits of nature experience may also underlie concerns about personally harmful effects of environmental problems. Cross-sectional survey data from 1413 Norwegian adults were used to assess the relationship between use of natural environments for psychological restoration and ecological behaviour, as mediated by personal environmental concern. Mediation tests with hierarchical regression analyses provided evidence of partial mediation; the use of natural environments for restoration remained a significant predictor of ecological behaviour after the entry of environmental concern into the analysis. These associations held independently of age, gender, education, household income, size of community of upbringing, size of community of current residence and distance of current residence from an outdoor recreation area. Among sociodemographic variables, only gender had a significant association with the use of natural environments for restoration, suggesting that their use transcends several important social categories in Norway. In short, positive experiences in natural environments may promote ecological behaviour.

Copyright © Foundation for Environmental Conservation 2007

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