Prof. David Sheffield

University of Derby, United Kingdom

Keynote Speech: Improving Wellbeing through Urban Nature and Biodiversity

Biography:

Prof. Sheffield is the Associate Head of Centre for Psychological Research. He is a Registered Health Psychologist and has trained students to be Health Psychologists (stage 1 and stage 2 training). He supervises PhD and Doctorate students, leads Psychology of Illness and Research Project in Health Psychology modules on the MSc Health Psychology programme, and teaches on BSc Psychology. His research interests are: Pain and Pain Management in Patients, Athletes, and Healthy Adults; Cardiovascular Responses to Stress in healthy adults and patients with heart disease; Performing under Pressure: Challenge and Threat responses in athletes; Nature Connectedness: correlates and interventions to increase how people relate to nature; and Maths Anxiety.

Abstract:

Over three decades ago the biophilia hypothesis was postulated by EO Wilson to account for our intrinsic bond with other living organisms. This sparked the first wave of scientific research into human-nature interactions by providing a hypothesis that could be tested. Nature affords a range of resources to directly promote wellbeing and facilitate problem solving as Wilson recognised. These benefits are not restricted to rural environments as I will describe in this keynote.
The strength of an individual’s connection with nature is related to both hedonic and eudaimonic wellbeing in adults and children. In a series of studies, we have demonstrated how nature connectedness can be increased in urban environments by tapping into aspects of biophilia. In our initial studies using a noticing nature intervention delivered online and via an app, we find that nature connectedness can be increased and that these increases are sustained. Relatedly, well-being and pro-environmental behaviours were increased; It was good for people and for nature. Considering other aspects of biophilia lead us to test which biophilic values are related to nature connectedness and how they might be used to increase nature connectedness and, consequently, wellbeing. Our research indicated that five of the nine values proposed by Wilson were important and interventions that focused on them increased nature connectedness and wellbeing. Interestingly, although these approaches can benefit individuals in a range of environments, greater biodiversity is associated with greater benefits. Recent attention has begun to turn towards the human-nature relationship as a route to limiting environmental damage, acknowledging that information is insufficient to produce environmentally responsible behaviours. Our relationship with nature may be key to saving humanity from a harm of its own making and avoiding the ultimate loss of other species along with ourselves.

Abstract

Prof. David Sheffield

Over three decades ago the biophilia hypothesis was postulated by EO Wilson to account for our intrinsic bond with other living organisms. This sparked the first wave of scientific research into human-nature interactions by providing a hypothesis that could be tested. Nature affords a range of resources to directly promote wellbeing and facilitate problem solving as Wilson recognised. These benefits are not restricted to rural environments as I will describe in this keynote.
The strength of an individual’s connection with nature is related to both hedonic and eudaimonic wellbeing in adults and children. In a series of studies, we have demonstrated how nature connectedness can be increased in urban environments by tapping into aspects of biophilia. In our initial studies using a noticing nature intervention delivered online and via an app, we find that nature connectedness can be increased and that these increases are sustained. Relatedly, well-being and pro-environmental behaviours were increased; It was good for people and for nature. Considering other aspects of biophilia lead us to test which biophilic values are related to nature connectedness and how they might be used to increase nature connectedness and, consequently, wellbeing. Our research indicated that five of the nine values proposed by Wilson were important and interventions that focused on them increased nature connectedness and wellbeing. Interestingly, although these approaches can benefit individuals in a range of environments, greater biodiversity is associated with greater benefits. Recent attention has begun to turn towards the human-nature relationship as a route to limiting environmental damage, acknowledging that information is insufficient to produce environmentally responsible behaviours. Our relationship with nature may be key to saving humanity from a harm of its own making and avoiding the ultimate loss of other species along with ourselves.