Publications and Research

Document Type


Publication Date



While the multiple benefits of natural environments on individual’s lives have been well noted, one population that is scarcely studied in current literature are adults who live on islands in the Northeast region of the United States. This is an important population to study because these adults live in a geographical location highly immersed in natural landscapes and they are likely to have a high exposure to natural environments. This exploratory study uses participant questionnaire responses (N=51) to gain insight into how they believe the natural environment influences their lives and offers guidance for future research. Residents identified benefits and challenges of being isolated on an island, expressed feelings of gratitude for living there, and shared concerns about the environment (as related to the island). Findings also show that the natural environment plays an essential role in these individuals’ social, emotional, and physical health. Main themes that emerged from these responses were the natural environment (1) is the primary setting for physical exercise, (2) possesses therapeutic qualities, (3) improves mental health, and (4) supports a spiritual or reflective practice. Participants also believed that their levels of nature relatedness were mainly influenced by their childhood experiences, leisure activities, and lifestyle choices. These findings suggest that the natural environment plays a significantly vital role in the lives of New England island residents, providing an initial step in closing the gap in the literature on this population and providing direction for further inquiry into this area of study.


This work was originally published in Ecopsychology, available at DOI: 10.1089/eco.2020.0029



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.