Dr. Mathers-Lowery Studies the Power of Nature, Publishes in Frontiers in Psychology
Profound experiences with nature are shown to facilitate pro-environmental behavior later in life, according to research co-authored by Becky Mathers-Lowery, Ph.D., post-doctoral researcher, USTRIVE program.
“The Power of a Profound Experience With Nature: Living With Meaning,” by Dr. Mathers-Lowery and Eric Brymer, Ph.D., of Southern Cross University, was published in Frontiers in Psychology on June 2, 2022.
For the study, Dr. Mathers-Lowery interviewed 21 adult participants about a profound experience they had with nature, as well as its lasting effects on their lives. Some of the experiences they recounted include:
- Encountering a giant cuttlefish while scuba diving
- Learning to swim at age 49
- Interning on an organic farm
- Seeing an image of nature in a social worker’s office.
All of the participants considered their profound experiences an impetus for change in their lives. The authors categorized these changes into three themes: living in relation with nature, living authentically, and living a meaningful life.
Living in Relation With Nature
Shopping habits, resource use and amount of time spent outdoors were commonly altered following a profound experience with nature. For instance, one individual said that after a camping trip, she reduced her use of plastic water bottles and throwaway coffee cups and began composting.
Consequences grouped under this category include: developing a sense of empowerment; reprioritizing values; and expanding spiritual beliefs.
Living a Meaningful Life
Many participants reported meaningful life changes as a result of their profound experiences, such as choosing an academic path or career track.