Article out: How Cognitive Frames about Nature May Affect Felt Sense of Nature Connectedness

A paper based on my PhD research has just been published online by Ecopsychology Journal How Cognitive Frames about Nature May Affect Felt Sense of Nature Connectedness


Nature connectedness tends to be understood as a relatively stable trait, studied using survey-based methods. But this approach is not well suited to investigating the nuances and unconscious processes of subjective experience. This paper addresses these limitations by using an alternative approach. I analyze the lived experience of nature connectedness using a post-positivist transdisciplinary methodology. Research participants report restorative benefits from connecting with nature, but tensions and inconsistencies in their felt sense of connectedness can also be discerned. Using frame and metaphor analysis, I explore how particular ways of conceptualizing nature, which can be inferred by use of language, may be contributing to these tensions and inconsistencies. The analysis and interpretation I offer is informed by concepts and theories from ecopsychology, environmental philosophy, cognitive linguistics, and ecolinguistics. In this paper, language is understood to be a psychosocial phenomenon. In the research participants’ accounts I find language that promotes the nonhuman natural world as an object, that abstracts and homogenizes living beings and their habitats, that encourages seeing nature as external and separate, and that primes us to be fast and busy. How these conceptualizations could affect sense of connectedness is discussed. The insights generated in this paper contribute to our understanding of nature connectedness as a subjective experience and the ways in which particular conceptualizations may affect the quality of this experience. The paper also shows the methodological potential of frames and metaphor analysis and the contribution that ecolinguistics can make to ecopsychology research.

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