Is nature relatedness a basic human psychological need? A critical examination of the extant literature.

Most of the world’s population in developed regions lives in urban areas, with this proportion growing annually. A key question regarding this trend is the effects that reduced contact with nature may have on human well-being and functioning. In this paper, we propose to evaluate, using the empirical literature, the hypothesis that human beings have a basic psychological need for nature relatedness. This proposition could have positive benefits for human well-being, the way we design human environments and communities, and the natural environment itself if properly evidenced; however, to date, no article has evaluated the extant literature for such a purpose. The objective of this paper is to use previous conceptualisations of basic psychological needs, and the criteria proposed by Baumeister and Leary (1995) and Sheldon (2011) to critically examine whether enough evidence exists to support this proposition. Research from diverse research areas are reviewed, with conclusions drawn for each criterion as well as for the overall literature. In general, research supports the proposition for a basic psychological need for nature relatedness, with stronger evidence pointing to the idea of this as a need-as-requirement than a need-as-motive, though both are well-evidenced. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)