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Volume 28
Number 3
Winter 2011-2012
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Research report Research Report
Spiritual outcomes of wilderness experience
A synthesis of recent social science research
By Paul Heintzman
Published: 4 Sep 2015 (online)  •  14 Sep 2015 (in print)
Antecedent conditions
Spiritual outcomes
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Spirituality is often associated with wilderness experience. Driver et al. (1996) suggested that a deeper understanding of the spiritual meanings that nature holds for humans could improve public land management. This article reviews 19 research studies, all but one published since 1997. In the vast majority of these studies, participants self-defined spirituality.

The behavioral model of outdoor recreation frames the empirical research reviewed and allows for the inclusion of many factors involved in the wilderness and spirituality relationship. The framework includes antecedent conditions, setting, and recreation components, which together lead to short- and long-term spiritual outcomes. This research synthesis may help park managers to better understand the processes that link wilderness experience with spiritual outcomes and to educate wilderness visitors about these processes (fig. 1).

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This page updated:  6 February 2012

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Masthead Information
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Integrating cultural resources and wilderness character
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Economic impacts of search-and-rescue operations on wilderness management in the national parks
Through the looking glass: What value will we see in wilderness in 2064?
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