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Article

Cultural Sets Shape Adult Conceptualizations and Relationships to Nature

1
Department of Environmental Health, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA 02115, USA
2
Population Health Sciences, Harvard University, Boston, MA 02115, USA
3
Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA 02115, USA
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Department of Data Science, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, MA 02115, USA
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Department of Biostatistics, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA 02115, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Chun-Yen Chang and William C. Sullivan
Sustainability 2021, 13(20), 11266; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su132011266
Received: 23 August 2021 / Revised: 29 September 2021 / Accepted: 7 October 2021 / Published: 13 October 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Innovation Thinking of Urban Green on Human Health)
The variability of nature and the nature construct have complicated interpretations of empirical evidence from nature-based health studies. The challenge of defining nature exposure for purposes of methodological standardization may encompass constructs beyond vegetated landcover. This study offers a new construct for defining ‘nature exposure’ that considers cultural sets and nature familiarity. Focus group discussions across the United States (N = 126) explored the concept of what constitutes the relationship to nature. The participant diversity included regions, cultural demographics, cumulative nature experience, and everyday nature exposure. Mixed methods of semi-structured discussion and a photo exercise that prompted nature connectedness allowed for data triangulation and the detection of contradictions between approaches. Individuals conceptualized nature in ways reflecting highly personal and differentiated experiences, which defied consensus toward a single nature construct. The group scoring of photo imagery showed consistent high and low levels of nature connectedness with respect to wildness and outdoor urban venues, respectively, but diverged in the assessment of nature within the built environment. Everyday nature exposure significantly differentiated how groups conceptualized and related to nature imagery. This result may indicate an unmet biophilic need among groups with low backgrounds of nature exposure. The contrasts between the discussion content and the observed reactions to nature imagery showed the value of using mixed methods in qualitative research. View Full-Text
Keywords: nature–health relationships; human–nature experience; urban nature; biophilia; nature exposure; focus group discussions; qualitative; photo research nature–health relationships; human–nature experience; urban nature; biophilia; nature exposure; focus group discussions; qualitative; photo research
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MDPI and ACS Style

Tomasso, L.P.; Cedeño Laurent, J.G.; Chen, J.T.; Catalano, P.J.; Spengler, J.D. Cultural Sets Shape Adult Conceptualizations and Relationships to Nature. Sustainability 2021, 13, 11266. https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su132011266

AMA Style

Tomasso LP, Cedeño Laurent JG, Chen JT, Catalano PJ, Spengler JD. Cultural Sets Shape Adult Conceptualizations and Relationships to Nature. Sustainability. 2021; 13(20):11266. https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su132011266

Chicago/Turabian Style

Tomasso, Linda P., Jose G. Cedeño Laurent, Jarvis T. Chen, Paul J. Catalano, and John D. Spengler 2021. "Cultural Sets Shape Adult Conceptualizations and Relationships to Nature" Sustainability 13, no. 20: 11266. https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su132011266

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