14 pages

A kaleidoscope model: Defining natural environments

of 14
All materials on our website are shared by users. If you have any questions about copyright issues, please report us to resolve them. We are always happy to assist you.
A kaleidoscope model: Defining natural environments
  Journal of Environmental Psychology   (1996) 16 , 335– 348 0272-4944/96/040335 + 14$25.00/0 ©  1996 Academic Press Limited ENVIRONMENTALPSYCHOLOGY                       J                o                u                r                n                a                      l                o                      f A KALEIDOSCOPE MODEL:DEFINING NATURAL ENVIRONMENTS 1 C LAUDIA  M AUSNER The GraduateCenter, Environmental Psychology Department, City University of New York, NY 10036,U.S.A. Abstract Research on the relationship between people and nature has rarely incorporated a definition of naturalenvironments. This exploratory project was designed to uncover underlying themes which comprise concep-tualization of natural environments. Fourteen interviews were conducted with adult respondents, combininga biographical section with a picture sorting exercise. Content analysis revealed a myriad of dimensions andattributes which can be organized into four meta-level themes used to categorize environments as natural ornot natural. The meta-themes included: (1) people as separate from nature; (2) assessment of naturalelements; (3) human impact on nature; and (4) the human place within natural environments. Furtheranalysis of the meta-level themes led to hypothesis generation about possible subcategories of naturalenvironments, including ‘totally natural’, ‘civilized natural’, ‘semi-natural’ and ‘quasi-natural’. ‘Non-natural’environments were also included in this schema, as they define the boundary of natural environments.A kaleidoscope model is used to illustrate how nature is defined through a complex web of interrelationships. ©  1996 Academic Press Limited Introduction  anticipated that this study would generate hypoth-eses about the underlying structure of this concept.What are ‘natural environments’? This term hasappeared frequently in environmental social science  ‘Natural environments’ as defined in the literature  literature, yet its definition has rarely been expli-cated. Although it has been widely acknowledged In those few instances where natural environmentshave been explicitly defined, they are usuallythat the term ‘landscape’ is ambiguous (Zube, 1984)and needs clarification (Lowenthal, 1978; J ackson, equated with environments which have no evidenceof human intrusion (Kaplan  et al  ., 1972; Zube,1984), similar concerns have not been voiced about‘natural environments’. Instead it seems that social 1976). Although Driver and Greene (1977) acknowl-edge that the ‘relative degree of man’s influence’ (p.scientists have assumed that sufficient agreementexists to guide any research endeavors adequately. 64) must be considered, this further obfuscates theireffort to explain which settings they would classifyWohlwill (1983) was one of the few researchers whodevoted considerable attention to investigation of as natural. It was hypothesized in this study thathuman impact is a primary dimension of natural-this area. However, much of Wohlwill’s work wasbased on intuitive assumptions and most of his ness, but not the sole dimension of naturalenvironments.empirical research was preliminary in scope.In relying upon their own concept of nature, many Natural environments have also been definedthrough contrast with built environments, con-social scientists have implicitly assumed that theirsubjects shared the same definition. This author sidered the antithesis of naturalness (Kaplan  et al  .,1972; Wohlwill, 1976; Zube, 1976; Ulrich, 1981). Byquestions that assumption, and designed this studyto examine the definition of natural environments presuming that this dichotomy exists for all people,much of the extant research may in fact reinforceas conceptualized by research participants withoutimposition of an a priori definition. By revealing the the separateness of people from nature, and, bydoing so, overlook possibilities for integrating thethemes used to define natural environments, it was 335  336  C.Mausner human and natural realms. It is critical that natu- times been defined exclusively by the presence ofnatural elements such as vegetation or waterralness, as defined by user groups, be integratedwithin the human-made world, because that is (Wohwill & Harris, 1980; Ulrich  et al  ., 1991). Thisapproach fails to consider the possibility that con-where the majority of people spend most of theirlives. text might influence the subject’s response to natu-ral elements. It is hypothesized by this author thatMuch of the research on so-called naturalenvironments has actually focused on wilderness the concept of nature may be heavily influenced bythe relationship between categories of naturalsettings (Kaplan &Talbot, 1983; Scherl, 1988). Per-haps the tendency to dichotomize natural and elements and the natural environments in whichthey are located.urban environments stems, in part, from this con-ceptualization of nature as ‘wilderness’. Without a Finally, ‘naturalness’ has been cited as anenvironmental dimension in many studies (Kaplanclear definition of natural environments, however,it is not possible to determine whether findings  et al  ., 1972; Zube, 1976; Nasar, 1987). Typically,this term has been associated with the presence offrom these studies can be generalized to other typesof settings which also include nature. vegetation and/or evidence of human impact. Intheir work on environmental categorization, WardIn the recreation literature, research has alsofocused on wilderness settings. For example, the (1977) and Ward and Russell (1981) found natural-ness to be a dimension of all environments. OnceRecreation Opportunity Spectrum (Clark & Stan-key, 1979) was developed at the ‘macro’ level for again, however, the definition of naturalness wasnot explicit; it was only defined through contrastmanagement of large tracts of remote land (Driver et al  ., 1987, p. 206). Not surprisingly, it has been with the opposing dimension of built environments.Moreover, these authors did not address the ques-criticized as being less useful for smaller, lessremote settings (Manning, 1985). tion of whether the natural environment is a cate-gory in and of itself. In the absence of contrary evi-In contrast with much of the existing work, thiseffort to thematize the concept of nature is based on dence, therefore, this study was designed with theassumption that natural environments do consti-analysis of a wide variety of settings. It is hopedthat these findings reveal opportunities for tute a concept. By definition, this concept must becomposed of underlying categories (Rosch, 1978).expanding future research agendas so that abroader cross-section of natural environments maybe included. Because relatively few individuals havethe opportunity to experience wilderness directly, it  Methods is essential that other forms of contact with naturereceive comparable attention in the research  Sampleselection  world.On a more technical level, categorization theory Fourteen adults were chosen from the general popu-lation, based on a screening interview which(Rosch, 1978; Smith & Medin, 1981) helps toexplain why some definitions offered in the litera- ensured that they met the recruitment criteria.Because random recruitment was not consideredture appear unclear. For example, categories ofnatural elements were not differentiated from cat- necessary for a hypothesis-generating project,referrals were made from various informal sources.egories of environments in Kaplan’s (1977, p. 235)definition of ‘everyday nature’. In Kaplan’s defi- The recruitment criteria were based on the fol-lowing assumptions and hypotheses: (1) adult con-nition, trees are cited as examples of ‘everydaynature’, along with roadside views and backyard ceptualizations of natural environments varyaccording to childhood exposure to outdoor environ-settings. In a more recent definition of ‘nearbynature’, Kaplan and Kaplan (1989, p. 162) offer the ments (Sebba, 1991; Chawla, 1992); (2) the adult’sconcept of natural environments varies according tolandscape category of ‘meadow setting’ alongsidethe socio-political category of ‘open space’. In his or her current place of residence (Zube  et al  .,1974; Schroeder, 1983; Craik, 1986); (3) gender dif-explaining their concept of a ‘natural setting’,Driver and Greene (1977, p. 64) simultaneously ferences may exist in the concept of naturalenvironments (Macia, 1979; Chawla, 1986); and (4)refer to natural elements, plants ‘growing in a wildarea’, and natural ‘wilderness’ environments. cultural heritage and language have a significantimpact on conceptualization of natural environ-Like traditional categorization research whichfocuses on discrete objects decontextualized from ments (Whorf, 1956; Tuan, 1974; Zube & Pitt,1981).the environment, natural environments have at  337 DefiningNaturalEnvironments Recruitment was limited to American-born, term ‘natural’, they were told to think about what-ever they associated with nature.native English speakers to control for variablesrelated to assumption (4) above. Respondents were For the picture sorting exercise, 27 color photo-graphs were selected from several magazines,recruited to represent a sample of adults who hadgrown up and/or were currently living in areas self- including  Audubon, Sierra, Natural History   and Smithsonian Magazine  . Selection was based on thedefined as rural, suburban or urban, and the sam-ple was evenly divided between men and women. hypothesis that human impact on nature would be amajor theme in the conceptualization of naturalThe recruitment criteria cited above wereintended to ensure that the broadest possible cross- environments. Therefore, pictures includedexamples of no human impact, low, moderate andsection of themes would be elicited. It is possiblethat other variables such as age or education level high human impact on the molar environment.These groupings were further subdivided to rep-may also influence conceptualization of naturalenvironments. As this was exploratory, hypothesis- resent low, moderate and high impact on the natu-ral elements within those scenes belonging to thegenerating research, however, the possibility thatother sample groups would generate different latter three categories (Table 1). Participants wereasked to place these pictures in piles according tothemes does not negate the validity of themes elic-ited from these respondents. ‘what belongs together’, and to devise a title for eachgroup of pictures they created. Analysis Research methodology  This research was designed to capture the personal The biographical interviews and picture sortingexercises were content analyzed with the goal ofconcept of natural environments as well as the uni-versal or shared meaning, should one exist. Each building a preliminary theory or model from thedata itself (Glaser & Strauss, 1967). Analysis wasinterview began with a biographical section, used toexplore the concept of nature which had beenexperienced in respondents’ personal lives. This wasfollowed by a picture sorting exercise to explore con-ceptualization of natural environments which hadnot been experienced personally. By providing con- T ABLE  1 stant stimuli across all respondents, it was antici- Sample of photographs selected for picture sorting exercise  pated that the picture sorting technique would more No human impact on nature (no people present) readily reveal themes with shared meanings. Also, 1. Lake reflecting snow-peaked mountains in this two-part research design was adopted to ensure background that discussion would not be limited to information  2. Beach grass in front of sandy beach and shoreline3. Desert with canyons in background from the visual modality. 4. Wildflowers in valley with mountains in background The first half of each biographical interview focused on childhood experiences in the out-of-doors Low human impact on nature between ages 5 and 10. Emphasis on this age span 5. Two girls playing on logs placed across stream was based on the assumption that the concept of  6. Wooden farmhouse with tin roof; clothesline and car7. Tree stumps remaining from clear-cutting naturalness originates and evolves during this 8. Adults with dog on inflatable boat; camping van on period (Wohlwill, 1983) and that events which occur lakeshore in background during this time frame have significant impact onadult conceptualizations of natural environments Moderate human impact on nature (Sebba, 1991; Chawla, 1992). The latter half of the  9. Ranch-style house with backyard garden in bloom10. People walking through flower garden in park biographical interview focused on past and present 11. People eating at outdoor cafe beside river adult experiences in the out-of-doors. 12. Cross-country skiers in park with nearby Questions in the biographical interview covered skyscrapers in background subjects such as what interviewees liked best orleast about outdoor places, what they considered to  High human impact on nature13. Boy fishing in river; bridge and factories nearby be natural environments, and how areas might be 14. Man gazing at plastic and styrofoam litter on beach changed to become more natural. At no time were 15. Skyscrapers beside yellow-gray river; yellow sky respondents provided with a definition of natural 16. Trees in sidewalk planters beside low-rise buildings environments. If they asked what was meant by the  338  C.Mausner initiated with few presumptions about what themes it. This hypothesis was found to be accurate aswithin-person analysis proceeded. When new would emerge, other than the expectation that ref-erences to human impact on nature would be found themes arose during picture sorting, respondentsreferred to personal experiences in order to elabor-in respondents’ comments.Individual pieces of data or ‘bibbits’ (Kirby & ate upon their explanations. Because it did notappear that themes which arose during the pictureMcKenna, 1989, p. 135) were extracted from eachinterview and analyzed in terms of similarities, dif- sorting were merely artifacts of the research design,findings were woven together with those from theferences, consistency and inconsistency within andacross participants. As patterns began to ‘emerge biographical interview in the final analysis.from the data’ (Kirby & McKenna, 1989, p. 140),they were identified by codes and used to guide sub-sequent analysis.  ThematizationofNaturalEnvironments Categorization theory offered possible avenues foranalyzing this data. The concept of attributes, Findings from this research support the assumptionthat ‘natural environments’ comprises a conceptborrowed from object categorization theory, wasapplied to the thematization of specific natural composed of underlying categories. Consistent withRosch’s (1978) definition of a concept, respondentselements. Attributes describe specific character-istics which identify members as belonging to a readily used ‘natural environments’ to organizeinformation about the settings they evaluated.given category. They occupy two-dimensional space,being either present or not present (Smith &Medin, The attributes and dimensions identified duringanalysis of the interviews were subsequently1981). The concept of dimensions proved even moreuseful for analyzing themes related to natural organized on a more abstract level, into four meta-level themes. Although no single set of attributesenvironments in their totality. Dimensions exist inthree-dimensional or geographical space, and and dimensions appears to define all naturalenvironments, there may be a single set of meta-assign a scale or range of values to defining charac-teristics (Ward &Russell, 1981). In summary, many level themes used to identify each setting as naturalor not natural. The proposed meta-level themes are:themes uncovered with the ‘grounded theory’approach (Glaser & Strauss, 1967) could be defined (1) separation of people from nature; (2) assessmentof natural elements; (3) human impact on nature;as attributes or dimensions.Through an iterative process much like the ‘her- and (4) the human place within natural environ-ments (Table 2).meneutic circle’ (Gadamer, 1990, p. 117), a concep-tual structure began to appear in the form of The first theme sets the stage by locating theresearch participant in relation to the naturalbroader, meta-level themes. Analysis of the meta-level themes, in turn, led to hypothesis generation world. The second meta-level theme identifies thecomponents of the natural environment and, in soabout subcategories of natural environments and akaleidoscope model of how people conceptualize doing, defines the arena for action to be analyzed insubsequent themes. Thematization of humannatural environments.The study was not designed to draw conclusions impact is dependent upon and must therefore follow the second meta-level theme, because it presup-about conceptualization of specific settingsdescribed in the biographical interviews or the pic- poses awareness of what exists to be manipulatedand/or controlled. The fourth theme differs from theture sorting exercise. Rather, the purpose was tostimulate discussion of a wide variety of environ- preceding theme, human impact upon nature, inthat human behavior and affect within nature isments, to elicit the largest possible number ofthemes which define the concept of nature. Consist- emphasized. Although these themes are presentedin linear order to facilitate discussion, it is hypo-ent with this objective, individual pictures from thesorting exercise were not analyzed according to the thesized that respondents used more of a circular,hermeneutic process to analyze the settings.specific scenes they represented. Instead, this exer-cise was analyzed in terms of the broad themes,attributes and dimensions used to describe and sort  Separation of peoplefrom nature  the stimuli.In designing this two-part research design, the The meta-level theme which served as a spring-board for all other themes was separation of peopleauthor hypothesized that the picture sorting wouldreinforce and further develop themes which from nature. Nature was typically viewed byrespondents as an Other, apart from themselves.emerged from the biographical interview preceding  339 DefiningNaturalEnvironments T ABLE  2 Thematic analysis Separation of people from nature Human place within nature Human impact  Nature—appropriate Changing the Changing the Dimensions ofactivities Being-in-nature natural elements natural changesenvironmentDimensions Dimensions Dimensionsexclusion of people human vs feel relaxed: mowing polluting scopeand artifacts machine power no danger frompeople selecting logging rategoal of nature no danger from vegetationpotential for appreciation environment mining reversibilityhuman impact: no social use of fertilizeraccess, size, limited number constraints littering permanencedanger of people no chores use of pesticideslow pace dumping trash intentionalitypotential for weedinghuman control: feel free: diverting water flow perceptibilitylaws, boundaries, few regulationsownership anonymity/privacy building over estheticsoneness with world Assessment of natural elements  Natural settings Natural elements: Attributes of elements: Dimensions of elements:Sky/Atmosphere stars visibilitysunair qualityrain sensory awarenesssnow Earth:sanddesert soil springtime smellwoods rocksforestmountains trees age/sizemeadow leaves green color accessibilityhill grass signs of growth health/qualitylawn flowers seasonal changes growth potentialgarden quantityseashore mere presenceisland beautyWater: deer mere presencebirds chirpcreek frogsswamp snakes bite danger potentiallake insects stingpond beesrivercanal water fluidity qualityoceanNonnatural elements:buildings materials belongingnesscolor heightdensitycars noisy quantitypollutingroadways materials widthbridgessigns noticeability
Related Documents
View more...
We Need Your Support
Thank you for visiting our website and your interest in our free products and services. We are nonprofit website to share and download documents. To the running of this website, we need your help to support us.

Thanks to everyone for your continued support.

No, Thanks

We need your sign to support Project to invent "SMART AND CONTROLLABLE REFLECTIVE BALLOONS" to cover the Sun and Save Our Earth.

More details...

Sign Now!

We are very appreciated for your Prompt Action!