Savoring mediates the effect of nature on positive affect
Keywords:emotion regulation, savoring, nature, positive affect, MSEM, diary study
The more time people spend in nature, the happier they feel. But how consistent is this link, and what mechanisms might account for this beneficial effect of nature on wellbeing? The aim of the present study was to test one potential mechanism linking nature to wellbeing—the ability to savor experiences. Participants (N = 60, 70% female, aged 18 to 34, university students) were randomly assigned to take a daily 20-minute walk in a natural or urban environment for seven consecutive days. Each night, they completed a daily diary report about their experiences that day, including the amount and types of their savoring during the walk (i.e., absorption and intensification of experiences), savoring after the walk (i.e., expression of gratitude and sharing their experiences with others) all adapted from the Ways of Savoring Checklist (Bryant & Veroff, 2007), and their daily feelings of positive affect (PA) and negative affect (NA), adapted from the affective circumplex (Barrett & Russell, 1998). Path analyses using multi-level structural equation modeling (MSEM) found that the composite measure of daily savoring significantly mediated the effect of nature on PA, controlling for NA and physical activity. Daily exposure to nature contributed to greater daily savoring, which predicted higher daily PA. Additional analyses showed that absorption and intensification of experiences in nature and sharing nature experiences with others were the key components of savoring, which may help to explain why people feel happier as a result of spending time in nature.
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