by CM Bruni, MT Ballew, PL Winter, AM Omoto

Ecopsychology 10(4): 280-288


Recent studies have shown that America’s youth may be losing a connection with nature. This paper explores the possibility that natural history museums may help to regain youths’ connection with nature. Visitors from two different natural history museums located in large urban centers in Southern California were asked to complete a game (FlexiTwins) that assessed implicit connectedness with nature at the beginning (pretest) and end (posttest) of their museum visit. The results revealed a significant increase in FlexiTwins scores from pretest to posttest for Riverside museum participants. This result is consistent with the authors’ hypothesis that spending time in a natural history museum would lead to higher scores when testing for implicit connectedness with nature. A marginal increase was shown in pretest and posttest scores for Los Angeles museum participants, and the authors presume the ceiling effect may be responsible for this result. Suggestions for future studies include utilization of additional proenvironmental metrics, varying levels of exhibit interactivity, and applying both experimental and observational approaches This study and future studies can assist museum curators and youth-focused programs in gaining a greater understanding of how nature-curated experiences can effectively encourage and maintain connectedness with nature.

Region: Los Angeles, California; Riverside, California
Publication Type: Journal article
Keywords: children and youth, contact with nature, and education