A Dose of Nature: Two three-level meta-analyses of the beneficial effects of exposure to nature on children's self-regulation

Joyce Weeland*, Martina A. Moens, Femke Beute, Mark Assink, Janneke P. C. Staaks, Geertjan Overbeek

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review

    17 Citations (Scopus)
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    Abstract

    There is growing evidence that exposure to nature, as opposed to a built environment, is associated with better mental health. Specifically in children, more exposure to nature seems to be associated with better cognitive, affective, and behavioral self-regulation. Because studies are scattered over different scientific disciplines, it is difficult to create a coherent overview of empirical findings. We therefore conducted a meta-analytic overview of studies on the effect of exposure to nature on self-regulation of schoolchildren (Mage = 7.84 years; SD = 2.46). Our 3-level meta-analyses showed small, but significant positive overall associations of nature with self-regulation in both correlational (15 studies, r = 0.10; p < .001) and (quasi-) experimental (16 studies, d = 0.15; p < .01) studies. Moderation analyses revealed no differential associations based on most sample or study characteristics. However, in correlational studies the type of instrument used to measure exposure to nature (index score vs. parent-report) significantly moderated the association between nature and self-regulation. Stronger associations were found in studies where exposure to nature was assessed via parent-report than via an index. Our findings suggest that nature may be a promising tool in stimulating children's self-regulation, and possibly preventing child psychopathology. However, our overview also shows that we are in need of more rigorous experimental studies, with theoretically based conceptualization of nature, and using validated measures of nature and its putative outcomes
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number101326
    JournalJournal of Environmental Psychology
    Volume65
    Early online date1-Aug-2019
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Oct-2019

    Keywords

    • Attention restoration
    • Child
    • Nature
    • Meta-analysis
    • Self-regulation
    • Stress restoration
    • QUALITY-OF-LIFE
    • MENTAL-HEALTH
    • GREEN SPACES
    • PHYSICAL-ACTIVITY
    • BEHAVIORAL-DEVELOPMENT
    • ADVENTURE EDUCATION
    • PUBLICATION BIAS
    • WORKING-MEMORY
    • YOUNG-PEOPLE
    • ATTENTION

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