Exploring the Relations Between Childhood Experiences in Nature and Young Adults’ Environmental Attitudes and Behaviours


This article presents the findings of a research study with young adults who explored the connections between their early childhood experiences in nature and their attitudes and actions towards the environment in adulthood. Drawing on E. Wilson’s (1984) work, environmental or ecological consciousness is theorised to connect to ecological identity and relates to an individual’s deep reflection on, connection to, and engagement with the natural environment. The study’s survey tool invited young adults to select various options that described their experiences in nature as children and their views of, and actions towards, the environment in the present. The findings illustrated connections between childhood experiences in nature and later views of, and actions towards, the environment. The correlations between expressed views about caring for the environment and environmentally friendly actions were surprising, however, as actions did not necessarily align with beliefs. The article concludes with recommendations based on the findings, outlining how positive attitudes and actions towards the environment may be fostered in childhood.

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