Wilderness Is the Prototype of Nature Regardless of the Individual's Connection to Nature. An Empirical Verification of the Solastalgia Effect

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2023 Jul 13;20(14):6354. doi: 10.3390/ijerph20146354.


(1) Background: Connectedness with Nature is a personality trait that influences our relationship with Nature. But Nature is not all the same. Wilderness is Nature in its original form, the form within which human beings have evolved as a species, while what we refer to as domesticated and urban Nature are relatively recent products of our interaction with the environment. (2) Aim: The main purpose of this study was to verify whether the individual trait "connection to Nature" influences the perception of restoration, preference for and familiarity with three types of Nature: wilderness, domesticated and urban. (3) Results: Regardless of the level of connection to Nature, wilderness is always perceived as more restorative than the domesticated or urban environment. Individuals with higher connectedness prefer wilderness more than others, and they are able to recognise the restorative value of domesticated environments more than those with medium or low levels of connectedness. Less connected individuals tend to prefer domesticated environments, although wilderness is more familiar to them. (4) Conclusions: This study shows that, despite our detachment from Nature, wilderness is the prototype of Nature, and this finding offers a plausible evolutionary explanation of solastalgia.

Keywords: connection to Nature; domesticated Nature; perceived restorativeness; solastalgia; urban Nature; wilderness.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Nature*
  • Wilderness*

Grants and funding

This research was funded by Fondazione Cariplo, grant number CUP G44I18000180005—Ref. Practice 2018-0841.