Child, Youth, and Family Studies, Department of



Julia C. Torquati

Date of this Version



The International Journal of Early Childhood Environmental Education, 5:1 (2017), pp 57- 67


Published by NAAEE


Regular engagement outside may promote healthy physical and psychological development as well as a respect and appreciation for nature. This exploratory study compared biophilia and attitudes toward nature between young children living in an urban area to those in a rural area. Urban and rural areas may offer different opportunities for exposure and engagement with elements such as water, plants, and animals. A comparison between young children in these settings may determine if experience in these different environments affects their attitudes and biophilia. Thirty-six children (urban n = 27; rural n = 9) participated in one-on-one structured interviews about their attitudes toward and being in nature. Results revealed no significant difference in biophilia between children by geographical area. Common themes in children’s attitudes emerged: 1) young children define nature by identifying specific elements; 2) young children are aware that their actions have consequences for the condition of the natural environment; and 3) children understood that the expectations guiding behavior in the natural environment apply to everyone. Preschool children’s level of cognitive maturity and individual preferences may be better predictors of biophilia and attitude than location alone. Authors suggest implications for teachers and parents.