Journal of Environmental Psychology 24 (2004) 503– 515
The connectedness to nature scale: A measure of individuals’
feeling in community with nature
F.Stephan Mayer, Cynthia McPherson Frantz
Department of Psychology, Oberlin College, Oberlin, OH 44074, USA
Five studies assessed the validity and reliability of the connectedness to nature scale (CNS), a new measure of individuals’ trait
levels of feeling emotionally connected to the natural world. Data from two community and three college samples demonstrated that
the CNS has good psychometric properties, correlates with related variables (the new environmental paradigm scale, identity as an
environmentalist), and is uncorrelated with potential confounds (verbal ability, social desirability). This paper supports
ecopsychologists’ contention that connection to nature is an important predictor of ecological behavior and subjective well-
being. It also extends social psychological research on self–other overlap, perspective taking, and altruistic behavior to the overlap
between self and nature. The CNS promises to be a useful empirical tool for research on the relationship between humans and the
r2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
The topic of environmental sustainability may very
well become the major social issue of the present century
(Wilson, 2001). Current rates of population growth,
consumption, and the use of nonrenewable resources are
not sustainable (Oskamp, 2000); thus individual, socie-
tal, and structural changes on a fairly large scale will
have to occur in the near future. Because issues of
environmental sustainability are in large part about
human choices and actions, psychologists have much to
contribute to understanding and formulating how such
change might occur.
To date, social psychologists interested in environ-
mental sustainability have applied knowledge from the
research literatures on attitudes (Kellert, 1993;Rauwald
& Moore, 2002), persuasion (Gonzales, Aronson, &
Costanzo, 1988;Davis, 1995), commitment (Pallak,
Cook, & Sullivan, 1980;Werner, Turner, Shipman, &
Twitchell, 1995), normative inﬂuence (Aronson &
O’Leary, 1982;Cialdini, Reno, & Kallgren, 1990), and
incentives (Stern et al., 1985;Levitt & Leventhal, 1986).
Early research in this ﬁeld addressed very speciﬁc, local
environmental issues, such as energy use in the home
(Pallak et al., 1980), littering (Cialdini et al., 1990), and
the re-use of materials (Burn, 1991;Heckler, 1994;
Oskamp et al., 1994). However, more recent efforts have
moved away from speciﬁc, localized approaches to
broader reconceptualizations of our relationship to
nature: cultural values (Stern & Dietz, 1994;Stern,
2000), how concern for nature can be increased through
empathy (Schultz, 2000), and how our identity is shaped
by the natural environment (Clayton & Opotow, 2003).
Although primarily nonempirical, ecologists and
ecopsychologists have long theorized about humans’
psychological relationship to the natural world. The
importance of feeling connected to nature is an early
theme in the writing of both ecologists (Leopold, 1949;
Orr, 1994;Berry, 1997;Norberg-Hodge, 2000;Pretty,
2002) and ecopsychologists (cf. Roszak, Gomes, &
Kanner, 1995;Roszak, 2001;Fisher, 2002). They have
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Order of authorship was determined by coin toss; both authors
contributed equally to this article.
Corresponding author. Tel.: +1 440 775 8499.
E-mail address: email@example.com (C.M. Frantz).
argued that this connection to nature is a key
component of fostering ecological behavior. For exam-
ple, the inﬂuential ecologist Leopold (1949) wrote years
ago: ‘We abuse land because we regard it as a
commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a
community to which we belong, we may begin to use it
with love and respect.’ Ecopsychologists (cf. Roszak et
al., 1995;Roszak, 2001;Fisher, 2002) have echoed
Leopold’s statement that feeling a sense of belonging to
the broader natural community may be a prerequisite
for increasing environmental protection. They argue for
fostering ecological behavior through expanding our
sense of self, for ‘if the self is expanded to include the
natural world, behavior leading to destruction of this
world will be experienced as self-destruction’ (Roszak,
Such an argument is inherently psychological, and
also plausible in light of recent empirical work by social
psychologists on interpersonal closeness, perspective
taking, and altruism. The extent to which one includes
another person as part of the self is a core operationa-
lization of relationship closeness (Aron, Aron, Tudor, &
Nelson, 1991). Further, as relationship closeness in-
creases, so does empathy and willingness to help
(Cialdini, Brown, Lewis, Luce, & Neuberg, 1997).
Similarly, acts that lead to a greater self–other overlap,
such as perspective taking (Davis, Conklin, Smith, &
Luce, 1996;Galinsky & Moskowitz, 2000), also increase
willingness to help (Coke, Batson, & McDavis, 1978).
Among humans, then, expanding one’s sense of self does
lead to more empathic and altruistic behavior. In the
empirical literature, however, this logic has never been
extended to the context of the natural world.
Thus, measuring one’s affective sense of connected-
ness to nature is important for empirical progress to be
made on these issues. This article presents a scale
designed to measure individuals’ experiential sense of
oneness with the natural world. We also begin to
evaluate whether this sense of feeling connected to
nature does in fact lead to ecological behavior. To place
our scale in perspective, we will now examine three
previous approaches to measuring humans’ fundamen-
tal relationship with the natural world.
The new environmental paradigm (NEP) scale (Dun-
lap, Van Liere, Mertig, & Jones, 2000) is a 15-item self-
report measure that aims to measure individuals’
‘primitive beliefs’ concerning their relationship to the
natural world. These beliefs, which comprise an
individual’s worldview, are thought to form the basic
core of individuals’ belief systems, the foundational
truths about self, the physical world, and social reality
(Rokeach, 1968), and are thought to impact more
speciﬁc attitudes and beliefs about environmental issues.
Measuring these core beliefs is clearly important.
However, the NEP is not an adequate measure of one’s
affective, experiential relationship to the natural world,
for two reasons. First, it seems to measure cognitive
beliefs rather than affective experience. For example, the
item ‘We are approaching the limit of the number of
people the earth can support’ taps a cognitive belief
about environmental sustainability, not an emotional
reaction to nature. Second, items such as ‘Humans are
severely abusing the environment’ measure beliefs about
humans in the aggregate, not the individual’s personal
relationship to nature.
Connectedness to nature has been discussed more
directly by Schultz (2002, p. 67) as ‘the extent to which
an individual includes nature within his/her cognitive
representation of self’. Schultz has used a single item
measure, the inclusion of nature in the self (INS) scale
(Schultz, 2001) to operationalize this construct. The INS
consists of seven pairs of circles—labeled ‘me’ and
‘nature’—that range from barely touching to almost
completely overlapping. Respondents are asked to
choose the pair that best represents their sense of
connection to the natural world. However, as Schultz,
Shriver, Tabanico, and Khazian (2004) note, single item
scales cannot be assessed for reliability. Further, to
complete the scale participants must have—or form—an
abstract representation of their relationship with nature.
People may not be able to accurately report their
connection to nature at this abstract level.
Schultz, et al., (2004) have also used a modiﬁed
version of the implicit associations test (IAT, Green-
wald, McGhee, & Schwartz, 1998) to measure connect-
edness to nature. The IAT asks participants to
categorize two different types of words using two keys
on a computer. In this case, participants distinguish
between words that suggest ‘me’ (I, mine) and ‘not me’
(it, their). They also distinguish between ‘nature’ words
(animals, trees) and ‘built’ words (car, city). Participants
perform these two kinds of categorization tasks
simultaneously, once while pairing ‘me’ and ‘nature’
together on the same computer key, once while pairing
‘me’ and ‘built’ together on the same key. The extent to
which one pairing is easier than the other indicates how
implicitly associated ‘me’ is with ‘nature’. This approach
has much to recommend it, as it has been used to
measure attitudes that have a strong affective compo-
nent (reaction to insects, see Greenwald et al., 1998;
racial attitudes, see Dasgupta & Greenwald, 2001) and
does not rely on accurate self-report. However,
researchers typically ﬁnd startlingly low correlations
between IAT scores and measures of relevant behaviors
(e.g. Schultz et al., 2004), raising questions about what
the IAT actually measures (Karpinski & Hilton, 2001).
In addition, the computer apparatus needed to take the
IAT makes it logistically more difﬁcult to administer
than paper and pencil measures.
In this paper, we present the connectedness to nature
scale (CNS), a measure designed to tap an individual’s
affective, experiential connection to nature. The CNS
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F.S. Mayer, C.M. Frantz / Journal of Environmental Psychology 24 (2004) 503–515504
follows from Leopold’s contention that people need to
feel they are part of the broader natural world if they are
to effectively address environmental issues. For Leo-
pold, this meant understanding the extent to which
people experientially view themselves as egalitarian
members of the broader natural community; feel a sense
of kinship with it; view themselves as belonging to the
natural world as much as it belongs to them; and view
their welfare as related to the welfare of the natural
The CNS scale is designed to be different from the
empirical work reviewed above in several ways. Unlike
the NEP and Schultz’s conception of connection to
nature, our measure is affective. Unlike the INS, it is a
reliable, multi-item scale. And unlike the IAT, it is easy
to administer and predicts behavior quite well. In ﬁve
studies using both community and college samples, we
demonstrate the internal consistency, unidimensionality,
test–retest reliability, and convergent validity of the
scale. We also show its ability to predict lifestyle
patterns (Study 1), ecological behavior (Studies 2, 4,
and 5), and curriculum decisions among students
2. Study 1
Study 1 had two aims. First, we wanted to test
whether the items that comprise this scale have an
internal coherence. Second we sought to establish both
convergent and discriminant validity with theoretically
related variables. Participants took the CNS, the NEP,
and completed a series of questions describing their
lifestyle patterns and time spent outdoors. Given our
previous reasoning that feeling a sense of connectedness
to nature should give rise to greater environmental
concern, we predicted a moderate positive correlation
between the CNS and NEP scale. However, because the
CNS measures one’s experiential, emotional connection
to nature while the NEP focuses on more rational,
cognitive beliefs about humans’ relationship to the
environment, we hypothesized different correlates. For
instance, we expected that the amount of time partici-
pants spent in nature would be positively associated
with their CNS score, but not their NEP score. After all,
more time spent in nature should be associated with a
greater sense of connection to it, whereas we do not
expect that time spent in nature will impact, indepen-
dently of CNS, individuals’ estimation that humans can
upset the balance of nature, their sense that there is a
limit to growth of human societies, or their views of
We also predicted that the CNS would predict
ecological behavior better than the NEP. This prediction
is based on three arguments. First, as suggested above, if
individuals’ sense of connectedness to nature is based on
their direct experience of being in nature to a greater
extent than NEP scores, then CNS scores should be
more strongly associated with actual ecological behavior
than NEP scores, since a variety of studies have
demonstrated the impact that direct experience has on
increasing attitudinal/behavioral consistency (see Fazio
& Zanna, 1981). Second, research (Iozzi, 1989;Kals,
Schumacher, & Montada, 1999;Pooley & O’Connor,
2000) also has demonstrated that an affective relation-
ship with nature may have a stronger impact on
ecological behavior than more knowledge-based infor-
mation, such as the more rational, cognitively based
NEP scale. Lastly, helping behavior, which in this
instance can be viewed as ecological behavior, is
impacted by the degree of ‘we-ness’ that exists bet-
ween a person and the object of concern. Given this
relationship, the CNS should clearly be a better
predictor of ecological behavior than the NEP, for
the CNS is fundamentally a measure of the ‘we-ness’
that individuals experience in their relationship with
Additionally, Study 1 investigates ecopsychologists’
argument that modern Western culture undermines our
sense of belonging and a sense of being in community
with nature. Ecopsychologists argue that modern life
has led to a greatly decreased self-nature overlap, and
that this fundamental change in our relationship to
nature explains, at least in part, our slow response to the
modern environmental crisis.
The magnitude of these modern changes should not
be underestimated. For instance, Pretty (2002) estimates
that for 350,000 generations humans lived close to the
land as hunter–gatherers, and that a sense of belonging,
place, and feeling embedded within the broader natural
world characterizes these cultures. As illustrated in a
description of an Inuit boy growing up in Northern
You must be in constant contact with the land and
the animals and the plantsyWhen Gamaillie was
growing up, he was taught to respect animals in such
a way as to survive from them. At the same time, he
was taught to treat them as kindly as you would
another fellow person. (from Pretty, 2002, p. 8)
Only since the industrialization and urbanization of
the Enlightenment have we moved away from close
contact with nature.
One consequence of industrialization and urbaniza-
tion is that we characteristically spend increasing
amounts of time indoors in both our leisure and work
life. In fact, Evans and McCoy (1998) estimate that we
spend 90% of our lives within buildings. However, the
hypothesis that increasing amounts of time indoors
leads to a decrease in individuals’ feeling a sense of
connectedness to nature has not been tested in any
empirical way. If time spent indoors correlates with
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F.S. Mayer, C.M. Frantz / Journal of Environmental Psychology 24 (2004) 503–515 505
people’s experiential sense of feeling connected to
nature, this would provide initial support for ecologists’
claim about the structural effects of modern life on
individuals’ sense of feeling connected to nature.
Sixty individuals (31 male, 29 female) ranging in age
from 18 to 68 were approached in public places in the
community of Oberlin. The average age was 31 years
(S.D.¼13 years). Of this sample, 30 were students;
occupations of the others ranged from homemaker to
ofﬁce worker to attorney. The sample was better
educated than the general American public: 58% had
completed some college, 21% had a bachelor’s degree,
and 20% had completed some graduate school. Twenty-
three percent of participants grew up in a city, 57% in
the suburbs, and 20% in rural areas.
Potential participants were approached by a research-
er, provided with a general verbal introduction to the
study, and were then asked to volunteer to complete the
survey. Those who agreed completed a questionnaire
anonymously. They supplied basic demographic infor-
mation, including gender, education level, age, and
whether they grew up in a rural, suburban, or urban
environment. In addition, all participants completed the
2.1.3. Connectedness to nature scale
This scale was initially developed in an Environmental
Psychology Course. After reading Leopold’s work and
related approaches, the instructor and students gener-
ated a host of possible items. Items that seemed either to
be redundant with other items, unclear, or not reﬂective
of the general approach were then eliminated. The
resulting scale consisted of 17 items designed to measure
the extent to which participants generally feel a part of
the natural world (see Appendix A). Participants
responded on a 5-point scale, where 1 ¼strongly
disagree and 5 ¼strongly agree. The reliability of the
initial scale was fairly low, alpha ¼.72. This was
primarily due to three items that had negative inter-
item correlations. These three items were dropped,
which increased the reliability considerably,
alpha ¼.84. To ensure that the scale consisted of only
one factor, we subjected the items to factor analysis
(using a nonorthogonal rotated solution). In this data
set and all others, three items (numbers 4, 12, and 14 in
the ﬁnal scale) were reversed scored before conducting
factor analysis. Based on eigenvalues and the scree plot,
we determined that a one-factor solution was best. The
eigenvalue of the ﬁrst factor was 5.29, explaining 38% of
the variance. All items loaded on it positively, from .28
to .83, average factor loading ¼.61 (see Table 1). The
next factor had an eigenvalue of 1.76, explained only
12% of variance, and had only two items (8 and 12) with
loadings above .5. The mean score on the CNS was 3.65,
2.1.4. New environmental paradigm
The NEP, originally developed by Dunlap and Van
Liere (1978) and recently updated (Dunlap et al., 2000),
assesses ‘‘primitive beliefs’ about the nature of the earth
and humanity’s relationship with it’ (p. 427). Partici-
pants rate items such as ‘Humans are severely abusing
the environment’ on a 5-point scale (1 ¼strongly
disagree, 5 ¼strongly agree). The mean across all
participants was 3.94, S.D.¼.50. In this sample, the
NEP was acceptably reliable, alpha ¼.75.
2.1.5. Lifestyle indices
A series of questions were devised to assess the extent
to which participants had contact with natural settings.
The ﬁrst set of 15 lifestyle questions asked participants
to reﬂect on what their ‘typical day’ was like. They were
asked to respond to items such as ‘My work keeps me
indoors most of the day’ (reverse scored) and ‘I can see
the weather outside from my ofﬁce’ on a 5-point scale
(1 ¼strongly disagree, 5 ¼strongly agree). These items
were averaged together for an index of Lifestyle A. The
mean score was 3.39, S.D.¼.59. A second set of
questions (Lifestyle B) asked participants to describe
how much time they spend in various locations (in front
of a computer, in a car, outdoors) on a typical ‘work
day’, (M¼3.59, S.D.¼.32) on a 5-point scale (1 ¼not
at all, 5 ¼a great deal). A corresponding third set of
questions asked participants to indicate how much time
they spent in various locations on a typical ‘free day’
ARTICLE IN PRESS
Studies 1–5: factor loading for individual items of the CNS
Item Study 1 Study 2 Study 3 Study 4 Study 5
1 .680 .661 .769 .709 .767
2 .802 .799 .729 .593 .165
3 .728 .531 .561 .604 .487
4 .550 .535 .313 .436 .689
5 .587 .740 .633 .558 .787
6 .762 .335 .395 .606 .463
7 .341 .697 .624 .577 .511
8 .403 .429 .286 .431 .673
9 .829 .382 .659 .687 .472
10 .822 .242 .226 .671 .790
11 .667 .748 .694 .742 .218
12 .284 .569 .366 .392 .395
13 .470 .730 .594 .335 .282
14 .680 .607 .769 .443 .767
F.S. Mayer, C.M. Frantz / Journal of Environmental Psychology 24 (2004) 503–515506
2.2. Results and discussion
We used a series of one-way ANOVAs to determine
whether different segments of the population scored
differently on the CNS. For comparison purposes, we
also looked for demographic differences on the NEP.
There were no differences on either CNS or NEP scores
due to level of education or childhood residence,
F’so2.57, p’s4.15, average F¼1:54:Age did not relate
to either scale, r’so.12. However, while men (M¼3:54;
S.D.¼.74) did not differ signiﬁcantly from women
(M¼3:76;S.D.¼.47) on the CNS, F(1, 58) ¼1.77,
n.s., there was a signiﬁcant difference between men and
women on the NEP, F(1, 58) ¼7.02, po.01. Women
scored higher on the NEP (M¼4:10;S.D.¼.37) than
men (M¼3:78;S.D.¼.56). This gender difference on
the NEP has been observed before (Zelezny, Chua, &
2.2.2. NEP, CNS, and lifestyle indices
Not surprisingly, the correlation between CNS and
NEP was high, r¼:52;po:001:Both the CNS and
NEP were correlated with the three Lifestyle scales (see
Table 2). In addition, we conducted partial correlations
to determine the extent to which the variance in the
lifestyle questions could be explained by the CNS or the
NEP. Both the CNS and NEP related signiﬁcantly to all
three lifestyle scores. However, the correlations between
CNS and lifestyle remained signiﬁcant when controlling
for NEP, while the correlations between the NEP and
lifestyle were not signiﬁcant when controlling for CNS
(see Table 2). That this ﬁnding theoretically makes sense
and adds further support to our argument that the CNS
is measuring something different than the NEP.
3. Study 2
Study 1 provides evidence for the internal consistency
of the CNS and evidence for the discriminant and
convergent validity of the CNS with the NEP. Study 2
not only adds additional evidence for the internal
consistency of the CNS, but also extends this work to
the critical question of whether the CNS is actually
associated with ecological behaviors and identity as an
Study 2 also attempts to place this research within the
context of previous work on perspective taking and
self–other overlap. As noted before, perspective taking
leads to greater self–other overlap. Extending this to the
natural world, we predicted that experiencing a greater
sense of connectedness to nature would be positively
related to the extent to which people take the perspective
of the natural world. This may also be associated with
individuals’ chronic tendency to take the perspective of
In addition, Study 2 seeks to further establish the
discriminant validity of the CNS by examining its
relationship to verbal and quantitative SAT scores
and social desirability scores. We hypothesized that
the CNS would not signiﬁcantly correlate with these
measures, as there is not theoretical reason to suppose
that CNS is inﬂuenced by scholastic aptitude or self-
presentational concerns. Also, a subset of participants
was asked to take the CNS again, to establish test–retest
Participants were introductory psychology students
(42 males and 60 females) participating in research for
Data were collected at several points in the semester:
during a prescreening procedure on the ﬁrst day of class,
midway through the semester during class, and as part
of a laboratory study.
The NEP (alpha ¼.72) and the CNS (alpha ¼.84)
were administered during a mass-testing procedure on
the ﬁrst day of class. A nonorthogonal rotated factor
analysis of the CNS (with negatively worded items
reversed prior to factor analysis) again conﬁrmed a one-
factor solution. The ﬁrst factor accounted for 35% of
variance, with an eigenvalue of 4.96. All items loaded
on it positively, from .24 to .80, average factor
loading ¼.57 (see Table 1 for factor loadings). The
next eigenvalue was 1.33, accounting for 9.5% of
variance. Only three items (5, 8, and 12) had factor
loadings over .5 on the second factor. The same scale
was given a second time in class 2 months later (the
number of students present at both testing
sessions ¼65). Reliability at this second testing was
also high, alpha ¼.82.
The prescreening procedure also included two other
relevant measures. First, participants completed two
items designed to assess participants’ identity as an
ARTICLE IN PRESS
Study 1: correlation between CNS, NEP, and lifestyle measures
Lifestyle index CNS NEP CNS
(A) Typical day .55*** .35** .46*** .10
(B) Time spent/work day .37** .24* .30** .06
(C) Time spent/free day .43*** .25* .36** .04
***po.001, **po.05, and *po.10.
Partialling out the effects of NEP.
Partialling out the effects of CNS.
F.S. Mayer, C.M. Frantz / Journal of Environmental Psychology 24 (2004) 503–515 507
environmentalist (alpha ¼.74). These items were ‘En-
vironmental concerns outweigh all other concerns in my
life’ and ‘I would call myself an environmentalist’;
participants responded on the same scale used for the
CNS. In addition, participants completed the seven
items perspective taking subscale of the Davis Inter-
personal Reactivity Index (1980) as a measure of
dispositional perspective taking ability. The scale
includes items such as ‘I sometimes ﬁnd it difﬁcult to
see things from the ‘other guy’s’ point of view’ (reverse
scored) and ‘I try to look at everybody’s side of a
disagreement before I make a decision’. Participants
respond using a 7-point scale, where 1 ¼strongly
disagree and 7 ¼strongly agree. The scale was reliable,
A subset of these participants (N¼65) volunteered to
participate in a laboratory study in exchange for course
credit. In the laboratory portion of the study, partici-
pants were presented with an environmental dilemma.
They read about a ﬁctitious town in which a proposed
courthouse would be built on protected public lands
that provided habitat to a locally endangered species. In
the description of the dilemma, equal numbers of
arguments were presented in favor of building the
courthouse (it would create needed jobs) and against (it
would harm the town’s eco-tourism industry). After
writing open-ended responses to the dilemma, partici-
pants responded to six questions designed to measure
the extent to which they viewed different perspectives to
be important. For example, ‘It is important to consider
possible environmental consequences of the construc-
tion project like the fact that some plants and animals
may die or suffer’ assessed the extent to which
participants believed the perspective of the environment
was important. The item ‘It is important to consider that
the preservation of the woodland around Falton may
stiﬂe the economic growth of the town and reduce the
convenience and effectiveness of the judicial system’
assessed the extent to which participants believed the
human perspective was important. Participants used a
7-point scale, 1 ¼‘strongly disagree’ and 7 ¼‘strongly
This subset of participants was also asked how often
they performed each of 24 behaviors relevant to
environmental protection. Behaviors included ‘turn off
the lights when a room is vacant’ and ‘use Styrofoam or
other disposable containers’ (reverse scored). Partici-
pants responded on a 7-point scale with 1 ¼very rarely
and 7 ¼very often. These items were averaged to form a
single measure of ecological behavior; the scale was
reliable, alpha ¼.79.
Additionally, participants completed the Marlowe–-
Crown Social Desirability Scale (alpha ¼.59). They
were also asked to report their SAT quantitative and
verbal scores. Response rate for these two questions was
unfortunately quite low (n¼36).
3.2. Results and discussion
The genders did not differ on CNS, t(1 0 1) ¼1.59,
n.s., and, in contrast to Study 1 and previous research,
women also did not score higher on the NEP than men,
t(1 0 1) ¼.22, n.s. Similar to Study 1, the CNS and NEP
were observed to be moderately positively correlated
with one another, r¼:35;po:01:The CNS time 1 and
time 2 scores correlated highly, r¼:78;po:001
Table 3 shows that when controlling for NEP scores,
the CNS and ecological behavior correlate positively
with each other. In contrast, the relationship between
ecological behavior and NEP disappears when control-
ling for CNS. This ﬁnding provides support for
Leopold’s assertion that feeling a sense of connectedness
to nature, and not simply our cognitive beliefs, shape
how we treat the environment.
The CNS was also signiﬁcantly associated with both
the general perspective taking measure and the more
speciﬁc measure of perspective taking for the environ-
ment, while the NEP was signiﬁcantly associated with
only the environmental perspective taking measure.
Once again, then, the CNS and NEP are found to
diverge from one another, and this particular divergence
suggests why the CNS is related to ecological behavior,
while when controlling for CNS the NEP is not.
Although the sample size is small and thus conclu-
sions must be tentative, another interesting divergence
between the CNS and NEP can be seen in their
relationship to SAT verbal scores. The CNS is
negatively correlated with verbal ability, while the
NEP is positively correlated. This ﬁnding is also
consistent with our argument that, in comparison to
the CNS, the NEP is more of a knowledge-based,
cognitive measure. As for SAT quantitative and social
desirability scores, both the CNS and NEP were found
to be independent from these measures.
Overall, then, the pattern of results provides strong
support for the argument that the CNS is related to
ecological behavior, and is not confounded with the
extraneous inﬂuence of social desirability or scholastic
aptitude. Moreover, these ﬁndings strongly argue that,
although related, the CNS and the NEP are clearly
distinct from one another.
4. Study 3
Study 3 makes a known-group comparison to
establish the validity of the CNS and its ability to
ARTICLE IN PRESS
The war against Iraq began between Time 1 and Time 2, and may
have inﬂuenced scores. To assess this possibility, we asked participants
to indicate the extent to which they were inﬂuenced and disturbed by
the war, and whether or not they agreed with the war. There was no
relationship between the CNS at Time 2 and the answers to these
F.S. Mayer, C.M. Frantz / Journal of Environmental Psychology 24 (2004) 503–515508
predict real life decisions. Students enrolled in an
introductory environmental studies class were compared
to samples of introductory psychology, math, and
chemistry students. We hypothesized that environmen-
tal studies students, who are motivated to study the
connectedness of humans to nature, would score higher
on the CNS than students in the other three areas of
Students enrolled in introductory chemistry (n¼27),
environmental studies (n¼78), math (n¼44), and
psychology courses (n¼121) completed the CNS at
the start of class. The total sample showed high
reliability on the CNS, alpha ¼.82. A nonorthogonal
rotated factor analysis of the CNS (with negatively
worded items reversed prior to factor analysis) again
conﬁrmed a one-factor solution. The ﬁrst factor
accounted for 32% of variance, with an eigenvalue of
4.46. All items loaded on it positively, from .23 to .77,
average factor loading ¼.54 (see Table 1). The next
eigenvalue was 1.30, accounting for 9.2% of variance.
Only two items (items 3 and 13) had factor loadings
over .5 on the second factor. These items were not
the same items that loaded onto the second factor in
Studies 1 and 2.
4.2. Results and discussion
A one-way ANOVA was conducted comparing the
four classes’ scores to each other. There was a main
effect of sample source, F(3, 266) ¼14.86, po:001:
Scheffe comparisons revealed that environmental stu-
dies students (M¼3:82;S.D.¼.48) had signiﬁcantly
higher connectedness to nature scores than chemistry
students (M¼3:4;S.D.¼.59, po:02), math students
(M¼3:2;S.D.¼.55, po:001), and psychology students
(M¼3:37;S.D.¼.62, po:001). Those who chose to
study environmental issues were indeed more connected
to nature that those who chose to study other topics.
This provides evidence that the CNS does in fact capture
a personality trait relevant to real world decisions.
5. Study 4
Study 4 seeks to locate the CNS in relation to the
more current work in psychology on subjective well-
being. The biophilia hypothesis (cf. Wilson, 1984;
Kellert & Wilson, 1993) argues that people have a
biologically based need to afﬁliate with and feel
connected to the broader natural world. This work
emphasizes the psychological beneﬁts associated with
being exposed to nature (Kellert & Wilson, 1993).
A similar argument is made in mainstream social
psychology for the need to belong to human groups (e.g.
Myers, 2000). For example, Baumeister and Leary
(1995) have proposed that individuals have a basic need
to feel a sense of belonging, to feel like a valued member
of a community. From an ecopsychological and
biophilia perspective, however, this sense of belonging
extends beyond our city limits (Roszak, 1995), and
includes a sense of belonging to the natural world. If in
fact people derive a sense of well-being from feeling
connected to nature, those who are more connected
should experience higher life satisfaction. We hypothe-
sized that the CNS would correlate with life satisfaction.
Study 4 also investigates how the CNS relates the
motivations behind ecological behavior. Stern and Dietz
(1994) and Stern, Dietz, and Guagnano (1995) have
identiﬁed three general value orientations (biospheric,
altruistic, and egoistic) associated with environmental
behavior. Biospheric values are related to concern for
the natural world (e.g. plants, trees, and animals);
altruistic values are related to concern for other people
(e.g. family, community, and friends); and egoistic
values are centered on self-concerns (e.g. one own
personal well-being). Research support for the existence
of these three general value orientations comes from a
variety of sources (Thompson & Barton, 1994;Stern et
al., 1995;Schultz & Zelezny, 1999;Schultz, 2000;
Schultz, 2001), including a 14-country study by Schultz
and Zelezny (1999). Because connectedness to nature
involves feeling like an equal member of the ecological
community, we hypothesized that biospheric values
would correlate with the CNS, while the more human-
centric altruistic and egoistic values would not.
Members outside the college community served as our
sample. There were 135 respondents total (31 men, 89
women, and 15 who did not disclose their gender). Their
ages ranged from 14 to 89 years, with a mean of 36 years
(S.D.¼19.) Twenty-two were college students. The
ARTICLE IN PRESS
Study 2: correlations between the CNS, NEP, and environmental
NCNS NEP CNS
Ecological behavior 65 .44** .20* .42** .15
Environmentalism 102 .56** .23* .53** .04
Dispositional perspective taking 102 .37* .11 .36* .10
Environmental perspective taking 65 .50** .32** .47** .32**
SAT verbal 36 ".23 .26 ".32* .32*
SAT quantitative 36 .14 .16 .13 .05
Social desirability 65 .17 ".01 .17 ".03
**po.01 and *po.05.
Partialling out the effects of NEP.
Partialling out the effects of CNS.
F.S. Mayer, C.M. Frantz / Journal of Environmental Psychology 24 (2004) 503–515 509
sample was predominantly Caucasian (89%), with 5%
identifying as African America, 2% has Latino/a, and
4% as Asian.
Members of the community were approached in
public places (libraries, coffee shops, schools, etc.) by a
researcher, who provided them with a general verbal
introduction to the study. They were then asked to
volunteer to complete the survey. Those who agreed
completed a questionnaire anonymously.
Participants completed the CNS (M¼3:52;
S.D.¼.56, alpha ¼.79). A nonorthogonal rotated factor
analysis of the CNS (with negatively worded items
reversed prior to factor analysis) again conﬁrmed a one-
factor solution. The ﬁrst factor accounted for 29% of
variance, with an eigenvalue of 4.04. One item (item 8)
had a weak, negative factor loading in the single factor
solution ( ¼".10). All other items loaded on it
positively, from .34 to .74, average factor loading ¼.56
(see Table 1). The next eigenvalue was 1.29, accounting
for 9% of variance. Only two items had factor loadings
over .5 on the second factor (items 10 and 11), and these
were not the same items that loaded on factor 2 in the
other three studies. Thus, there is no empirical support
for a reliable second factor.
Participants also completed the NEP (alpha ¼.79),
the ecological behavior scale used in Study 2
(alpha ¼.80), and the measures of environmentalism
(alpha ¼.55) and consumerism (alpha ¼.68) used in
previous research. They answered ﬁve items designed to
measure life satisfaction (e.g. ‘I am satisﬁed with my
life’) on a 7-point scale, 1 ¼strongly disagree and
7¼strongly agree. The scale was reliable, alpha ¼.84.
They also completed the general value scale (cf.
Schultz, 2000), a measure of biospheric, altruistic,
and egoistic motivations for environmental protection.
In this measure, participants read ‘people around the
world are generally concerned about environmental
problemsyHowever, people differ in the consequences
that concern them most’. They then rated each of 12
items (e.g. animals, children, and me) on a 7-point
scale (1 ¼not important, 7 ¼supreme importance) in
response to the prompt ‘I am concerned about
environmental problems because of the consequences
’. Four items represented each of three value
orientations. All three subscales were reliable, egoistic
(alpha ¼.85), altruistic (alpha ¼.84), and biospheric
Finally, participants indicated where they grew up
(rural, suburban, or urban environment), where they live
now, their political orientation (liberal, moderate, and
conservative), their income, and level of education.
5.2. Results and discussion
Taking advantage of the community nature of our
sample, we examined whether CNS scores differed on a
variety of demographic measures. Once again there were
no gender differences on the CNS, t(1 1 8) ¼.56, n.s.
There was a slight tendency for liberals (M¼3:85;
S.D.¼.42) to scores higher on the CNS than moderates
(M¼3:59;S.D.¼.71) and conservatives (M¼3:44;
S.D.¼.66), but this was not signiﬁcant, F(2,
53) ¼2.10, p¼:13:CNS scores did not differ as a
function of income, but did differ among education
levels, F(5, 114) ¼9.25, po:001:High school and
college students (M¼3:27;S.D.¼.53) were less con-
nected to nature than those with college or graduate
degrees (M¼3:87;S.D.¼.48), t(1 1 8) ¼6.43, po:001:
5.2.2. Perspective taking, general value orientations,
environmentalism/consumerism, and green behavior
Table 4 illustrates that, similar to Study 2, the CNS
was signiﬁcantly associated with the general perspective
taking measure. In contrast to Study 2, however, the
NEP was signiﬁcantly but weakly associated with this
measure after controlling for CNS. This divergence of
the CNS and NEP is also highlighted in their relation-
ship to the environmentalism and consumerism mea-
sures: controlling for NEP, CNS was still observed to be
positively related to environmentalism and negatively
related to consumerism. However, when controlling for
CNS, the NEP was not signiﬁcantly related to either of
these measures. Lastly, in contrast to Study 2, in the
present study both CNS and NEP related to green
behavior when controlling for the other variable.
As expected the CNS was positively associated with
the general biospheric value orientation, but not with
the more human-centric altruistic and egoistic value
ARTICLE IN PRESS
Study 4: correlations between CNS and NEP with environmental
values and behaviors
Measures CNS NEP CNS
Perspective taking .51** .40** .39** .18*
Biospheric .45** .48** .27** .33**
Altruistic .13 .07 .11 .00
Egoistic ".07 ".29** .09 ".29**
Environmentalism .61** .40** .51** .14
Consumerism ".36** ".27** ".27** ".12
Ecological behavior .45** .49** .28** .32**
Life satisfaction .20* .12 .17* .03
.21* .27** .05
**po.01 and *po.05.
Partialling out the effects of NEP.
Partialling out the effects of CNS.
r¼.02 when education is controlled for.
F.S. Mayer, C.M. Frantz / Journal of Environmental Psychology 24 (2004) 503–515510
orientations. The NEP was also correlated with bio-
spheric value orientation. The CNS and NEP diverged,
however, in that the NEP exhibited a negative relation-
ship with the general egoistic value orientation while the
CNS did not.
5.2.3. Life satisfaction
As predicted, the CNS correlated positively with the
subjective well-being scale, but the NEP did not. It is
also important to note that the magnitude of this
correlation, although small, is similar to the magnitude
for variables like marriage (r¼:14;reported by Haring-
Hidore, Stock, Okun, & Witter, 1985), education
(r¼:13;reported by Witter, Okun, Stock, & Haring,
1984), and income within countries (r¼:17;reported by
Haring, Okun, & Stock, 1984;r¼:12;reported by
Diener, Eunkook, Lucas, & Smith, 1993, in a nationally
representative sample in the United States). In this
context, then, various factors can be viewed as
contributing to overall life satisfaction, and connected-
ness to nature appears to be as important a contributor
as other variables more traditionally associated with
6. Study 5
In Study 5, we compare the CNS to measures used in
previous research (Schultz, 2001;Schultz et al., 2004) to
measure connectedness to nature. As discussed earlier,
Schultz has used the INS to measure connection to
nature, as well as a version of the IAT. Because Schultz’s
conception of connection to nature is cognitive, whereas
ours is affective and experiential, we hypothesized only
moderate correlations between the CNS and the INS
and IAT. In addition, we hypothesized that the CNS
would predict ecological behavior better than the INS
Undergraduate psychology majors (N¼57) were
invited to take part in a study on memory in exchange
for $10. Computer data for 11 participants were lost due
to computer malfunction; thus, only 46 people com-
pleted the IAT portion of the study.
Data collection relevant to this study was embedded
between the encoding and retrieval parts of a study on
memory. Participants were run in groups of six, seated
in front of a computer screen.
After viewing words on the computer, participants
took the IAT, as administered by the software
DirectRT. The stimulus words were identical to those
used by Schultz et al. (2004). The reaction time data
were prepared as described in Greenwald et al. (1998):
extremely short (rto300 ms) or long (rt43,000 ms)
reaction times were changed to 300 and 3000 ms,
respectively, and reaction times for trials on which an
error was made were deleted. No participant was
eliminated due to excessive error rates (average error
rate ¼5.1%). All scores were log-transformed, and the
difference between the me/nature trial and the me/built
trial was calculated for each subject. Positive scores
indicate a stronger association between ‘me’ and
‘nature’, while negative scores indicate a stronger
association between ‘me’ and ‘built’. The average IAT
score ¼.22, S.D.¼.19.
Upon completion of the IAT, participants completed
the CNS, which showed acceptable reliability,
alpha ¼.79. A nonorthogonal rotated factor analysis
of the CNS (with negatively worded items reversed prior
to factor analysis) again conﬁrmed a one-factor solu-
tion. The ﬁrst factor accounted for 32% of variance,
with an eigenvalue of 4.51. All items loaded on it
positively, from .17 to .79, average factor loading ¼.53.
The next eigenvalue was 1.66, accounting for 12% of
variance. Only three items (items 3, 8, and 14) had factor
loadings over .5 on the second factor.
Participants also completed the general value scale used
in Study 4. All three subscales were reliable, egoistic
alpha ¼.82, altruistic alpha ¼.60, biospheric alpha ¼.84.
Finally, they completed the INS and the ecological
behavior scale used in Studies 2 and 4 (alpha ¼.74).
6.2. Results and discussion
The sample size of this study is relatively small for
correlational techniques, so the results should be viewed
as tentative. However, the data largely conﬁrmed our
predictions. The CNS correlated moderately with the
INS (r¼:55;po:001) and marginally with the IAT
(r¼:27;p¼:07). The INS and IAT were also margin-
ally correlated, r¼:25;p¼:10:
Table 5 presents the correlations of the CNS, IAT,
and INS with the three value orientations and ecological
behavior. The CNS again correlated with biospheric
values and with ecological behavior, but not with
ARTICLE IN PRESS
Study 5: correlations between CNS, IAT, and INS with ecological
values and behaviors
Measures CNS IAT INS
Biospheric .35*** .24* .28**
Altruistic .18 ".05 .09
Egoistic ".23* ".01 .11
Ecological behavior .39*** .19 .28**
***po.01, ** po.05, and* po.10.
F.S. Mayer, C.M. Frantz / Journal of Environmental Psychology 24 (2004) 503–515 511
altruistic and egoistic values. As expected, the IAT did
not correlate signiﬁcantly with behavior. The INS,
however, yielded a similar, albeit weaker pattern of
correlations as the CNS. The results from this study are
tentative, but the moderate correlation between the CNS
and INS, combined with their similar pattern of
correlates, suggests that the INS may prove to be an
adequate measure of connection to nature when time
and space are limited.
7. General discussion
Using both student and community samples, the
combined ﬁndings from the ﬁve studies reported in this
article provide strong evidence that the CNS is a reliable
and valid scale. Besides the high test–retest consistency,
the items comprising the scale repeatedly have been
shown to load on a single factor and exhibit high
internal consistency. The scale relates to other scales
that are conceptually related (NEP, identity as an
environmentalist, perspective taking for nature, INS,
and IAT), but does not relate to potential confounds
(verbal ability and social desirability).
The studies presented here also provide evidence for
the coherence of Leopold’s vision that feeling a sense of
community, kinship, egalitarianism, embeddedness, and
belongingness to nature are all aspects of a broader
sense of feeling connected to it. They support Leopold’s
contention that connectedness to nature leads to
concern for nature, as the CNS has also been shown
to relate to a biospheric value orientation, ecological
behavior, anticonsumerism, perspective taking, and
identity as an environmentalist. Lastly, they suggest
that personal well-being is linked to a sense of feeling
connected to nature.
A general perspective of this work, then, is that if
people feel connected to nature, then they will be less
likely to harm it, for harming it would in essence be
harming their very self. While we view this statement as
generally true, it is worth noting that many people
knowingly engage in self-destructive behavior. Addi-
tionally, people are also at times simply unaware that
their actions are destructive. In other words, if an SUV
driver really is unaware that his or her behavior is
destructive to nature, then increasing this person’s
feeling of being connected to nature in all likelihood
will have little if any impact on this person’s driving
habits. Nevertheless, our ﬁndings demonstrate that, in
general, there is a moderately strong positive relation-
ship between the CNS and eco-friendly actions, meaning
that while this relationship may not hold for everyone, it
does hold for most people and in a rather robust
manner. Future research, however, does need to
investigate the limiting conditions associated with this
Another issue that future research needs to address
concerns the relationship between the CNS and eco-
friendly acts. At this time we have established that a
signiﬁcant positive relationship exists between these
measures. Establishing a causal relationship between a
person’s sense of feeling connected to nature and eco-
friendly acts is another matter, however. Additionally, it
may very well be the case that there is a bi-directional
relationship between these variables, such that feeling a
connection to nature leads to eco-friendly acts and that
eco-friendly acts leads people to feel more connected to
the natural world. Furthermore, future research needs to
elaborate on whether simply feeling a sense of connect-
edness to nature in itself leads to eco-friendly acts, or
whether feeling connected to nature establishes the
necessary condition that makes a request for eco-
friendly acts more effective. While these alternative
views of the relationship between connectedness to
nature and eco-friendly acts are not mutually exclusive,
clariﬁcation is called for.
Future research is also required to establish whether
there is a causal path between connectedness to nature
and life satisfaction. If connection to nature leads to
greater subjective well-being, this would allow envir-
onmentalists to put a more positive spin on ecological
behavior than the doom and gloom messages that warn
the public to change or die. As excessively fearful
messages often lead recipients to either engage in
denial or to discount the message as being alarmist, a
positive framing may in the long run provide a more
effective means of promoting environmentally friendly
There is growing consensus that individuals in the
Western world need to change their behavior and
consumption patterns in profound ways to create an
environmentally sustainable society. And while inter-
ventions aimed at speciﬁc environmental issues have
been shown to be effective, increasingly it is also
becoming apparent that the magnitude of the environ-
mental problems we face necessitate a broader interven-
tion aimed at changing our cultural worldview. The
CNS is a tool for activists and researchers alike to
monitor the extent to which they are effective in
promoting these necessary changes. For example, the
CNS is already being used to test the effects of
situational factors and personality characteristics that
might impact connection to nature (Mayer, Frantz,
Norton, & Rock, 2003). It could also be used to
evaluate whether interventions aimed at increasing the
contact of children or adults with nature actually
increase their sense of feeling connected to nature.
Another potential application includes assessing the
ARTICLE IN PRESS
F.S. Mayer, C.M. Frantz / Journal of Environmental Psychology 24 (2004) 503–515512
impact of architectural factors, such as windows looking
out onto natural settings, on connection to nature.
We also see the CNS as a vehicle that can bring the
less research oriented discussion of ecologists and
ecopsychologists into the research oriented realm of
psychology. The collaboration of empirical approaches
and ecopsychological perspectives promises to be fruit-
ful for both disciplines. For example, our results add
substance, persuasiveness, and clarity to the argument
made by others (Roszak, 1995;Pretty, 2002) that aspects
of our modern lifestyle relate to our sense of feeling
connected to nature. Similarly, the ecopsychological
perspective has something to offer more empirically
minded researchers. Conceiving of the need to belong
(Baumeister & Leary, 1995) more broadly as need for
connectedness to others and to nature adds another
dimension to the social psychological theorizing that
broadens this perspective in important ways. That a
sense of feeling connected to nature has now been shown
to predict life satisfaction adds an empirical ﬁnding to a
discussion that has lacked empirical facts. This ﬁnding
highlights the psychological signiﬁcance of the human–-
nature relationship not just for well-being of nature, but
for humans as well.
ARTICLE IN PRESS
Please answer each of these questions in terms of the way you generally feel. There are no right or wrong answers.
Using the following scale, in the space provided next to each question simply state as honestly and candidly as you can
what you are presently experiencing.
Neutral Strongly agree
____1. I often feel a sense of oneness with the natural world around me.
____2. I think of the natural world as a community to which I belong.
____3. I recognize and appreciate the intelligence of other living organisms.
____4. I often feel disconnected from nature.
____5. When I think of my life, I imagine myself to be part of a larger cyclical process of living.
____6. I often feel a kinship with animals and plants.
____7. I feel as though I belong to the Earth as equally as it belongs to me.
____8. I have a deep understanding of how my actions affect the natural world.
____9. I often feel part of the web of life.
____10. I feel that all inhabitants of Earth, human, and nonhuman, share a common ‘life force’.
____11. Like a tree can be part of a forest, I feel embedded within the broader natural world.
____12. When I think of my place on Earth, I consider myself to be a top member of a hierarchy that exists in
____13. I often feel like I am only a small part of the natural world around me, and that I am no more important
than the grass on the ground or the birds in the trees.
____14. My personal welfare is independent of the welfare of the natural world.
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