Can walking dogs influence experience of nature and conservation attitudes? Results from a cross-cultural study

Agathe Colleony, Rachel White, Assaf Shwartz

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


Urbanization threatens both biodiversity and people’s opportunities to interact with nature. This progressive disconnection from the natural world is profoundly concerning as it affects human well-being, health, attitudes and behaviors towards nature. In search of a solution, increasing the quantity of experiences of nature (EoN) has been found to enhance health and well-being benefits, but it remains unclear whether it can also affect attitudes and behaviors towards nature. Additionally, current understanding of the outcomes of EoN is case limited, while this expanding extinction of experience of nature is a global crisis. Here, we conducted a cross-cultural survey among 741 people from France, Israel and the UK to explore how measures of affective and cognitive relation to nature and conservation attitudes differ between dog-owners (who are entailed to go out more often), non-pet and cat-owners. This setting was used as a pseudo-experiment to explore the relationships between EoN, nature relatedness, ecological literacy and conservation attitudes. We first demonstrate that affective and cognitive responses to nature significantly vary across countries. We also confirmed that dog-owners go out more often and in more diverse places. However, we found that although dog ownership was associated with people’s relatedness to nature, the increased quantity of EoN did not correlate with either increased ecological literacy or conservation attitudes. Thus, the quantity of EoN may not be sufficient for mitigating the extinction of experience and consequently a more profound understanding of the quality of EoN and the means to enhance it are needed. Overall, this study demonstrates the importance of scaling-up from single-country to cross-cultural studies, as a “one-size-fits-all” approach is unlikely to work with
respect to appropriate metrics for measuring the quantity and quality of EoN, and when promoting policies that can enhance meaningful interactions with nature.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2018
EventEuropean Congress of Conservation Biology 2018 - Jyväskylä, Finland
Duration: 12 Jun 201815 Jun 2018
Conference number: 5th


ConferenceEuropean Congress of Conservation Biology 2018
Abbreviated titleECCB 2018
Internet address


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