Poster Presentation 6th World Congress on Positive Psychology 2019

Exploring Human's Reactions To Degraded Natural Environments Through Photographic Stimuli (#561)

Truc Anh L Dao 1
  1. Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO, United States

Terror Management Theory proposes that when facing death terror and anxiety, humans can either engage in behaviors that enhance their cultural worldview and self-esteem or avoid sources that remind us of such terror. Based on previous research on human-nature relationship using the framework of terror management theory, the current project explored the hypothesis that exposure to nature might increase thoughts about mortality which in turn could impact reactions to nature. In this project, exposure to nature was manipulated by letting participants view and write about one of three sets of seven randomly assigned images of the environment (i.e., intact nature, degraded nature, nature with visible human constructions). Results from the first study with 232 participants showed that people in the intact nature condition (M = 2.44, SD = 1.12) thought less about death than participants in the degraded nature condition (M = 3.18, SD = 1.13). In the second study, after exposure 239 participants read essays with either pro- or anti-America perspective. Results showed no significant main effects of types of environment on participants’ attitude towards the essay’s author. Thus, exposure to degraded nature increased accessibility to thoughts of death yet did not lead to worldview defense.