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  • Nature and well-being:
    Building an evidence base

    There has been an explosion of interest in the possibility that regular exposure to natural (as opposed to built) environments may be beneficial for our psychological well-being. The idea itself is not new and makes a lot of intuitive sense. However, the quality of the available evidence in support of the hypothesis is extremely mixed. The aim of this talk is to present an overview of some of the work we have been undertaking in this area at the European Centre for Environment & Human Health over the last 4 years. The talk will present data from four broad methodological perspectives (epidemiological, experimental, experiential and economic) and present data pertinent to questions such as how much exposure is necessary, how do any benefits of nature compare to other things that are good for our well-being, does the quality and type of the natural environment matter, will the benefits of moving to a greener area last, and what are the potential savings to annual NHS budgets from current levels of physical activity in nature? The talk is very much structured to encourage comment, discussion and the development of new ideas, rather than an attempt to present an exhaustive summary of results in the field.

    Dr Mathew White
    University of Exeter Medical School

    3.00pm to 4.00pm in 01AC02

    Dr Mathew White did a PhD in Social Trust in the Psychology Dept. at the University of Sheffield, before post-doctoral positions in the areas of group processes and social conflict (Jena, Germany), and the development of national indicators of subjective well-being (Imperial, London). He was a lecturer in the Psychology Dept. at the University of Plymouth for six years before moving to the European Centre for Environment and Human Health in the University of Exeter’s Medical School in 2011. His work at the ECEHH has focused on health and pro-environmental behaviour change alongside studies into nature and well-being. Sadly he discovered his true calling (to be a professional surfer) far too late in life to be any good at all, though at least the enjoyment of getting bashed about in the waves has influenced his current work which focuses predominantly on the psychological effects of spending time in and around marine and coastal environments (e.g. Work Package lead on an Horizons 2020 project exploring these issues across the EU:

  • Parent-Child Talk About the Origins of Living Things

    For the first time, the National Curriculum released in May 2015 includes evolutionary theory as part of science education for year 6 students. Given that children’s misconceptions and naïve theories often hinder understanding of evolutionary theory, teachers must know what children believe about the origins of species for formal instruction in this topic to be beneficial. In our study, we interviewed 124 English parents and children. Half of the sample also discussed the origins of these entities. Seven-year-olds endorsed creationism more than evolutionary beliefs, whereas the 10-year-old children endorsed these beliefs to a similar extent. Parents, on the other hand, endorsed evolutionary theory more than creationism. We compared children whose parents endorsed evolution strongly to children whose parents did not strongly endorse evolutionary theory. Children in the latter group endorsed creationism more than evolutionary beliefs, whereas children in the former group endorsed these beliefs to a similar extent. Finally, this study further focused on a sample of parents and children who also discussed the origins of living things together. Children’s endorsements were more strongly related to the parent-child conversations than to parents’ endorsements. Although parent-child conversations were related to parents’ beliefs, sometimes beliefs not endorsed by the parents were mentioned during the discussion task.

    Tenenbaum, H. R., & Hohenstein, J. M. (in press). Parent-child talk about the origins of living things. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology.

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