Child, Youth, and Family Studies, Department of



Julia C. Torquati

Document Type


Date of this Version



Children, Youth and Environments 23:2 (2013), pp 78-102


Published by the University of Cincinnati. © 2013 Children, Youth and Environments.


The purposes of this research were to: develop a reliable measure of children’s affinity for nature or “biophilia”; determine whether young children’s biophilia was related to the “green-ness” of the outdoor play area of the preschool they attend; examine whether demographic variables are associated with children’s biophilia; and determine whether demographic variables predict children’s enrollment in nature-oriented programs. We recruited children from ten early childhood education programs—six that had outdoor play spaces with many natural elements and four that had few or none of these elements. One hundred fourteen preschool-aged children completed an 11-item measure of biophilia that included preferences for play locations (outdoors or indoors, during day and evening), enjoyment of sensory aspects of nature (viewing wildlife, listening to birds), exploring nature (digging for worms, examining insects), and curiosity about nature (learning about wild animals). Total biophilia scores of children attending preschools with and without natural playground elements were compared via ANOVA, which revealed no significant differences as a function of preschool playground type (nature, non-nature). Maternal education and family income were not associated with children’s biophilia scores; however, children whose mothers completed more education and reported higher family income were more likely to be enrolled in programs with natural outdoor play spaces, suggesting that children who are disadvantaged in these factors may not have equal access to programs with natural play spaces.