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Arendt, Florian and Matthes, Jörg (2016): Nature Documentaries, Connectedness to Nature, and Pro-environmental Behavior. In: Environmental Communication-A Journal of Nature and Culture, Vol. 10, No. 4: pp. 453-472

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We investigate the effects of nature documentaries on pro-environmental cognition and behavior. Of central interest is the concept of connectedness to nature, which describes an individual's sense of being connected to nature. Based on previous research showing that a direct nature experience in zoos can increase connectedness to nature, we questioned whether watching a nature documentary could increase connectedness to nature and pro-environmental behavior. An experiment using one control group (watching a documentary about Einstein's theory of relativity) and one treatment group (watching a nature documentary) revealed that a mediated nature experience is not sufficient to elicit an increase in connectedness to nature. However, we found that exposure increased actual donation behavior for animal and environmental protection organizations. It is important to note that nature documentary exposure increased proenvironmental donation behavior only in those already having a strong sense of connectedness. We discuss real-world implications for donation-accepting, non-profit organizations.

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