Research Topic

Human-Nature Interactions: Perspectives on Conceptual and Methodological Issues

About this Research Topic

Investment in ecosystem services for health and the emergence of nature-based solutions with co-benefits for human health and well-being are integral to the zeitgeist on human-nature interactions. Today we are facing increasing societal challenges from rapid urbanization which impacts upon the health, mental ...

Investment in ecosystem services for health and the emergence of nature-based solutions with co-benefits for human health and well-being are integral to the zeitgeist on human-nature interactions. Today we are facing increasing societal challenges from rapid urbanization which impacts upon the health, mental health and well-being of individuals. Diminished connectedness with nature has resulted from this urbanization, resource exploitation, and lifestyle behavior changes. Climate change may only exacerbate the societal challenges further through, for example, the amplification of the health island effect.

Urban environments provide ever increasing risks from heat, air pollution, noise stress and reduced nature connectedness. Concurrently, accumulating evidence suggests various health benefits by exposure to urban natural spaces (WHO, 2016). The extant research suggests an array of benefits of contact with nature which are linked to physical activity (e.g. green exercise), sustainable commuting and residential proximity to green infrastructure. Psychological benefits appear to be related to mood, well-being, attention and pro-environmental behavior. Despite more than three decades of research since the advent of the biophilia hypothesis, researchers conclusions have been limited by methodological limitations. Few studies have employed measures which are directly comparable with national or international surveys (e.g. WHO-5). Theoretical assumptions from environmental psychology have not been readily supported by models based on biological plausibility or neural implementation. A range of methodological approaches in the assessment of pre-disposing factors including nature connectedness and prior experience has limited the capacity of systematic reviews to conduct reliable comparisons. Some factors which clearly resonate with nature-contact and natural systems have been neglected by researchers. Few studies have addressed the concept of psychological resilience, for example.

There is a growing scientific imperative in achieving consensus on the optimum measures, methodological approaches, theoretical frameworks and concepts to enhance our understanding of human-nature interactions. Nature offers a low cost non-invasive solution for mental health and well-being, one that is arguably non-invasive. Standardization of measures and conceptual clarity among researchers would facilitate RCT’s, cross-cultural comparisons and provide clearer evidence for the future decisions on investment in nature-based solutions with the capacity to address many societal challenges.

This Research Topic aims to encompass contemporary perspectives on our conceptualization and measurement of human-nature interactions. Well-being, mental health, resilience, meaning in life, nature connection, pro-social attitudes and pro-environmental behavior are among the topics of concern.
We are particularly interested in submissions which comprise:
1. Research that takes a transdisciplinary approach to understanding human-nature interactions and their impact upon health, mental health and well-being (e.g. sport science and psychology, physical activity and physiology, public health and geography).
2. Research that evaluates the methodological approaches in the measurement of the antecedents and consequences of human nature-interactions.
3. Research that propose novel methodological perspectives including, for example, implicit measures, neuroscience and neuroimaging based studies, grounded theory.
4. Theoretical and conceptual approaches that add explanatory value to our understanding of human-nature interactions beyond the biophilia hypothesis.

We welcome a range of article types including original research (i.e. factor-analyses), conceptual and systematic reviews, mini-reviews, perspective articles and article commentaries.


Keywords: well-being, nature, physical activity, attention, sport, restoration, nature connection, Mental health, green exercise, biophilia.


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

16 January 2019 Abstract
01 May 2019 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

16 January 2019 Abstract
01 May 2019 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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