This study has a unique focus, namely how natural environments affects individuals, especially parent-child interactions outdoors. Surprisingly, considering the growing research in outdoor education, the authors identify a gap in the literature regarding communication and interaction outdoors.
The authors used a novel experimental design, which demonstrated that parent-child communication is more responsive and connected in a natural environment compared to an indoor environment. They mention that this study is the first to demonstrate that human communication is influenced by natural environments and that natural settings may constitute optimal environments for communication.
The research highlighted that the children were significantly more talkative in the natural environment than in the indoor environment and that parent-child connected communication episodes were significantly longer in the natural environment. Additionally, both the parents and the children produced a proportionally higher number of responses in the natural environment than in the indoor environment.
Clearly, this is an important area to explore further and the research methods could provide useful insights into different communities and their experiences of talking and interacting in nature with their children. Importantly for educators – do we make time to incorporate quality talk time outdoors?
For information on methods and results, read the full paper online:
Cameron-Faulkner, T., Melville, J., Gattis, M., (2018). Responding to nature: Natural environments improve parent-child communication. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 59, 9-15.