The Nature Study

About the Study


The Nature Study aims to advance knowledge of the health benefits of time spent outdoors. Our goal is to learn how early life experiences and circumstances shape attitudes toward nature engagement throughout an individual’s life and potential connections to health outcomes.

This initiative will begin with researchers at the Harvard Chan School of Public Health (HSPH) conducting informal focus groups sessions in four US cities—Boston, Berkeley, Atlanta, and Phoenix. These groups will explore how individuals think of nature, how their ideas and experiences shape nature-affinity, and how time in nature differs by geography, personal preferences, and demographics. At this stage are inviting you to be part of these focus groups to learn more about people’s attitudes and early life experiences in nature.


Whether or not you are an outdoor enthusiast or distinctly prefer the indoors, we want to hear your thoughts. Please find below additional information about the focus groups and register by clicking on the button below.


What will happen during focus groups?

Participants will engage in a 60-75 minutes, semi-structured focus group discussion related to experiences in and attitudes toward nature. Photo prompts of what and why people think of as nature across different outdoor contexts will be used to help generate conversation.

How will focus group participants be chosen?

We are seeking 15 individuals for each focus group to be held at REI stores in Atlanta, Berkeley, Boston and Phoenix. Interested participants are encouraged to submit their information via this website. Eligible individuals will be chosen first-come, first-serve, looking only for a balance in gender.

Who is eligible to participate?

Participants are eligible if they are 18 years of age or older. Beyond qualifying by age, we are looking for people from diverse backgrounds and perspectives to help provide a balanced and objective understanding of how different individuals relate to nature.

Do I have to be an REI co-op member to participate in this study?

Although we have encouraged REI Co-op members to participate in our study, you do not need to be an REI Co-op member to join a focus group or to participate in this study, or any future phases of this study.

Can REI employees participate?

As long as you are over 18 years old, employees are welcome to participate. Participant employment status will not be collected.

How do I give the HSPH research team my permission to participate in a focus group?

The consent form saying you freely agree to participate in this research can be found under the "Consent Form" tab in the top menu. This form will also be given upon arriving to the focus group session in case you have any questions.

How will the privacy of my opinions be maintained?

No individual participant data will be identified by name at any phase of this study, forwarded to REI for marketing purposes, or will used in subsequent research articles or publications. Only first names will be used during the interview so that comments cannot be attributed to specific individuals. We also will ask participants not to discuss the content of other people’s experience outside of the session in order to respect and keep other participants’ opinions confidential. Researchers may record sessions to assist their note taking. Tapes will be erased after pertinent information is extracted.

What will happen with the information generated from focus groups interviews?

Your participation will inform the development of two surveys that aim to measure attitudes toward nature engagement destined for broader audience participation.

Will my time to participate in a focus group be compensated?

Participants in focus groups will receive a $20 REI gift card. Thank you gifts will be distributed at the end of the session.

What if I am not picked for a focus group, can I still be part of this study?

Focus groups represent the first phase of a 3-part study engagement. You still will be able to participate in future phases of the study. Please stay tuned to the announcement of our research opportunities.

How do I get started?

Just click the register now button at the top of this page. If you are over 18 and among the early respondents to join a focus group, you will receive an individual email specifying the time and place this session will be held.

Have any other questions?


Contact the study manager at

Meet The Team


Memo Cedeño Laurent, ScD

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Research Associate

Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health


Jack Spengler, PhD

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Akira Yamaguchi Professor of Environmental Health and Human Habitation

Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health


Linda Tomasso, MLA

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Doctoral Candidate

Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health