Empirical research consistently indicates that contact with the natural world is associated with broad psychological and physical benefit. Of particular interest are findings indicating that exposure to natural environments improves subjective well-being, suggesting that interacting with nature may be one route by which individuals may achieve and maintain a durable sense of happiness. In the current chapter, key concepts and influential theories concerning the effects of nature on well-being are described. Empirical research detailing the salutogenic effects of nature is then reviewed, with emphasis placed on four main areas of inquiry: (1) exposure to natural environments; (2) connectedness to nature and well-being; (3) physical proximity to nature; and (4) green exercise. Current limitations in the extant literature are discussed, and priorities for future research are outlined. Based on the present state of research in this domain, it is concluded that ample evidence documents the positive effects of nature on subjective well-being. However, additional research examining group differences in responses to nature, causal mechanisms accounting for the relationship between nature and well-being, and environmental factors impacting the effects of nature on well-being, among other topics, is necessary to develop a comprehensive and more nuanced understanding of the myriad ways in which happiness may be achieved through engagement with the natural world.
Type (DCMI Terms)
McMahan, E. A. (2018). Happiness comes naturally: Engagement with nature as a route to positive subjective well-being. In E. Diener, S. Oishi, & L. Tay (Eds.), Handbook of well-being. Salt Lake City, UT: DEF Publishers. DOI:nobascholar.com
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