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Title: Mental vitality : assessing the impact of a walk in the woods
Author: Bowen, Mark F.
ISNI:       0000 0004 6497 2861
Awarding Body: London South Bank University
Current Institution: London South Bank University
Date of Award: 2016
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As pressures mount in the world, they take a toll upon our mental and physical capacities. A foundational principle of ecopsychology is that connection with nature positively impacts our mental and psychological health and well-being. While much research has focused on children and adults, no research into the influence of nature specifically targeting 16-18 year olds has been conducted. Additionally, this doctoral dissertation addressed the calls from literature and the gaps in the knowledge base regarding employing just one independent variable and one dependent variable in ecopsychology nature walk research. Existing commentaries are critical of many extant research projects which have sought to measure too many outcomes (in their opinion) in one study. Mixed methods research was justified and employed based upon the researcher’s philosophy and the goals of the research project. This investigation examined the effect of nature walks on a population of 16-18 year olds - - students at an international school, or Third Culture Kids (TCKs), defined as a child living outside of their parents’ native culture, a further novel innovation in this area of research. This study measured one aspect of mental vitality, that of mental acuity. Using the d2 Test of Attention as a quantitative measure to evaluate the impact of regular nature walks and personal reflection journals as a qualitative measure, this study found a significant improvement in participants’ mental acuity in both the quantitative and qualitative results after a regular, twice weekly, 40 to 60 minute duration nature walk intervention. Implementation of nature walks into schools is highly recommended to benefit students’ psychological health and well-being. Recommendations for additional research are also suggested.
Supervisor: Lerman, Stephen ; Reavey, Paula Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Prof.) Qualification Level: Doctoral