The emotional presence of nature: Exploring affect in human-wilderness relations

Mark L. Douglas, William T. Borrie, Keith Bosak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Affect is a construct that has received substantial scholarly attention in non-representational theory and other fields. This study focuses on human-wilderness relations through a non-representational theoretical lens to reveal insights into the concept of affect. Research indicates that societal and cultural forces play an influential role in wilderness relationships. A focus is lacking on how wilderness may affectively influence, build, or sustain human–wilderness relations through emotional registers. Fifteen people participated in a study of how wilderness affect occurs in everyday life. For one week following a visit to a wilderness area, participants kept a diary and camera to take notes and photographs when certain feelings formed. The researcher augmented the diary-photograph, diary-interview method with exemplary and evocative anecdotes. The results show three ways the emergence of affect becomes perceptible. It offers an example of how affect-oriented inquiry is carried out and informs further affect-oriented outdoor recreation research. Conceptually, wilderness affect appreciates and responds to differences that emerge through relations with wild nature. The study furthers inquiry into emotional meaning making via human–wilderness relations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)447-462
Number of pages16
JournalLeisure Studies
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2023


  • Wilderness
  • affect
  • affect-oriented inquiry
  • human-nature connections
  • human-wilderness relations
  • non-representational methods
  • non-representational theory


Dive into the research topics of 'The emotional presence of nature: Exploring affect in human-wilderness relations'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this