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Cooperation is in our Nature

Key Message

Exposure to nature increases cooperation, and, when considering environmental problems as social dilemmas, sustainable intentions and behavior.


Zelenski, John M., Dopko, Raelyne L., and Capaldi, Colin A. (2015). Cooperation is in our nature: Nature exposure may promote cooperative and environmentally sustainable behavior. Journal of Environmental Psychology. 42: 24–31. doi:10.1016/j.jenvp.2015.01.005


Theory and correlational research suggest that connecting with nature may facilitate prosocial and environmentally sustainable behaviors. In three studies we test causal direction with experimental manipulations of nature exposure and laboratory analogs of cooperative and sustainable behavior.


  • We tested the effects of viewing brief videos containing natural vs. built spaces.
  • Nature produced more cooperative and sustainable behavior in commons dilemmas.
  • Nature produced higher social value orientation scores and sustainability intentions.
  • Nature's effects on cooperation and sustainability were independent of mood.

Benefit Statements / Outcomes

Leadership Provided By:

  • Leisure Information Network (LIN)
  • Alberta Recreation and Parks Association

On Behalf Of:

  • Canadian Parks and Recreation Association (CPRAA)

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