Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Evolution, terror management theory, and humans' relationship with nature
by Vinocour, Joshua, Ph.D., University of Missouri - Saint Louis, 2011, 114; 3482515
Abstract (Summary)

This study investigated the savannah hypothesis, an evolutionary explanation for human environmental preference. It aimed to address some of the methodological shortcomings of prior research while simultaneously investigating the role of non-evolutionary influences, such as existential anxiety and individual differences. Ninety-eight undergraduate participants were shown photos of Natural, Mixed, and Built settings and rated the visual attractiveness of each photo. Results showed that Built scenes were preferred over Natural and Mixed scenes, in contradiction to the savannah hypothesis. Existential anxiety, however, did not appear to influence photo ratings. Individual differences, such as ethnicity and the quality participants' previous outdoor experiences were significantly related to photo ratings. Caucasian participants and participants with a history of pleasurable outdoor experiences rated natural photos as more attractive than minority participants and participants who reported having more unpleasant outdoor experiences. The results undermine the savannah hypothesis' adaptationist claims regarding the human preference for natural scenes.

Keywords: savannah hypothesis, evolution, mortality salience, terror management theory, nature, environment

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Vandenberg, Brian
Commitee: Steffen, Ann, Taylor, Matthew, Uhlman, Allon
School: University of Missouri - Saint Louis
Department: Psychology
School Location: United States -- Missouri
Source: DAI-B 73/03, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Environmental Studies, Clinical psychology
Keywords: Humans' relationship with nature, Mortality salience, Nature, Savannah hypothesis, Terror management
Publication Number: 3482515
ISBN: 978-1-267-04027-5
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