Women engaging the natural world: Motivation for sensory pleasure may account for gender differences

Gretchen A. Nurse, Jacob Arthur Benfield, Paul A. Bell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Previous literature has investigated gender differences associated with environmental values and attitudes, often finding that women report attitudes and values that are more pro-environmental and activities that are more engaging with nature. These findings have spawned research into factors that might explain such gender differences. We explore the role of a new construct, the motivation for sensory pleasure (MSP), and how it furthers the understanding of gender disparities among environmental value orientations (ecocentrism, anthropocentrism, apathy) and reported nature-related behaviors. MSP is considered an individual disposition characteristic that measures the human need to seek out and enjoy nature-related experiences through the senses (vision, hearing, olfaction, touch). A comparison of college student samples (200 women, 190 men) found that women scored higher on ecocentrism and MSP and lower on environmental apathy. Higher MSP scores related to taking more nature hikes and fewer months between visits to park-like natural settings. Our findings are consistent with propositions that women are more motivated to engage nature overall and that they create more frequent opportunities to experience nature and imply that MSP could be a valuable tool in predicting which individuals might respond most positively to therapeutic interactions with natural settings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)171-178
Number of pages8
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Applied Psychology


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