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Joy and calm: how an evolutionary functional model of affect regulation informs positive emotions in natureKey theories of the human need for nature take an evolutionary perspective, and many of the mental well-being benefits of nature relate to positive affect. As affect has a physiological basis, it is important to consider these benefits alongside regulatory processes. However, research into nature and positive affect tends not to consider affect regulation and the neurophysiology of emotion. This brief systematic review and meta-analysis presents evidence to support the use of an existing evolutionary functional model of affect regulation (the three circle model of emotion) that provides a tripartite framework in which to consider the mental well-being benefits of nature and to guide nature-based well-being interventions. The model outlines drive, contentment and threat dimensions of affect regulation based on a review of the emotion regulation literature. The model has been used previously for understanding mental well-being, delivering successful mental health-care interventions and providing directions for future research. Finally, the three circle model is easily understood in the context of our everyday lives, providing an accessible physiological-based narrative to help explain the benefits of nature.