• The impact of walking environment and connectedness to nature, mindfulness and empathy: A comparison of natural and urban locations

      Birdsall, Kerry; Harvey, Caroline; University of Derby (2016-09-10)
      Immersion in nature has been demonstrated to improve health and well-being, and has also been found to increase measures of trait nature connectedness. However, the effect of such an environment on other personality traits remains in question. An experiment was conducted to examine the effect of urban and natural walking environments and time on measures of nature connectedness, mindfulness, cognitive empathy and affective empathy. Participants (N=44) conducted a thirty-minute walk on three consecutive days and measures of the dependent variables were taken pre and post intervention. A series of factorial mixed design ANOVAs were used to assess the impact of walking in urban and rural environments on the dependent variables. The results indicated that walking in a natural environment significantly increased nature connectedness, mindfulness and cognitive empathy over time but did not have a significant main effect on affective empathy. This research highlights the potential of interventions involving walking in natural environments for positive psychological outcomes in terms of the enhancement of desirable personality traits.