Nature and Well-Being. How young people possess and profit from sustainability traits

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Titel: Nature and Well-Being. How young people possess and profit from sustainability traits
Autor(en): Sothmann, Jan-Niklas
Erstgutachter: Prof. Dr. Susanne Menzel-Riedl
Zweitgutachter: Prof. Dr. Martin Lindner
Zusammenfassung: Up to now, politics and societies from all over the world have sought an economy that is built on the idea of continual growth to establish a wealthy future and achieve societal prosperity. At the same time, people have neglected to consider that the resulting environmental pollution is the largest cause of disease and death in the world today. Therefore, it appears sensible to ensure that people’s well-being and nature’s well-being is uncoupled from profit-orientated aims. To break the circle of continual growth and the decreasing well-being of humans and nature, individual sustainability traits that are able to foster a transition to sustainable development need to be explicitly identified. Today’s young people will presumably face an even more severe level of consequences resulting from continual growth, which will reach far into the future, thereby affecting the living environment of future generations even more drastically. Therefore, this dissertation aims to answer the question of how young people possess and profit from their sustainability traits in terms of well-being. This work approaches this question by empirically investigating different interrelations between environmental values, the perception of environments (including the perception of naturalness and the perception of aesthetics), environmental concern and well-being in the context of young people. The empirical section is divided into three parts that investigate the different relationships step by step. These three parts are based on three different quantitative questionnaire surveys of young people in Germany. In the first survey (N = 229; Mage = 13.27 years, SD = 2.37 years), the relation between secondary school students’ human-nature relationship as a sustainability trait and their well-being was investigated. Analyses showed that the sustainability trait of human-nature relationships was significantly related to young people’s age-dependent well-being through nature perception in terms of naturalness and aesthetics as well as through individual nature connection. Young people were shown to profit from nature as resource for their own well-being. A positive human-nature relationship could be described as an important requirement for people to achieve sustainable development. In a second inquiry, university students (N = 237; Mage = 22.12 years, SD = 3.09 years) with a focus on the interrelations of sustainability traits that showed relations to people’s well-being in past research were surveyed. The results describe the interrelations between the specified sustainability traits of environmental values, a newly developed scale that theoretically and empirically validated affective nature connection, cognitive nature connection, and environmental concern. The findings indicate that the chosen sustainability traits mutually contribute to each other’s impact and do not preclude each other. Future research based on the results of the two described studies will likely show that sustainability traits are desirable characteristics and useful attributes that are available all over the world, no matter what a person’s age. As a final step, secondary school students’ environmental concern and well-being were quantitatively surveyed (N = 2173; Mage = 14.56 years, SD = 1.45 years) to analyze how environmental concern as a sustainability trait predicts young people’s well-being. The children’s and adolescents’ sustainability trait of environmental concern was able to predict young people’s well-being, with a clear dependence on age. The obtained outcomes supporting the aim to possess nature as a resource of well-being need to be considered in terms of young people’s age. Youth seem to experience sensitive periods of time in which the youth’s sustainability traits evidently act differently than in other stages of life. Hence it is important to point out that especially young people need age-appropriate treatment in terms of education for sustainable development to successfully foster young people’s sustainability traits. The main goal of this dissertation was to explore and identify in-depth insights into young people’s sustainability traits and their interrelations as well as the connections to young people’s well-being. As such interrelations between sustainability traits and well-being meet the aims of sustainable development as well as political and societal aims for a healthy future life environment for everyone which is expected of continual (economic) growth up to the present time, age-dependent education for sustainable development could address the need for young people to become progressive decision makers who create future-proof solutions for themselves and others, considering the constitution of a worthy life for present and future generations.
Schlagworte: nature; well-being; young people; sustainability traits; environmental values; human-nature relationship; nature perception; nature connection; environmental concern; Natur; Wohlbefinden; Nachhaltigkeitsmerkmale; Umweltwerte; Mensch-Natur-Beziehung; Naturwahrnehmung; Naturverbundenheit; Umweltbewusstsein; Kinder; Jugendliche
Erscheinungsdatum: 29-Aug-2018
Publikationstyp: Dissertation oder Habilitation [doctoralThesis]
Enthalten in den Sammlungen:FB05 - E-Dissertationen

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