Fear versus fascination: An exploration of emotional responses to natural threats

A.E. van den Berg, M. ter Heijne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

60 Citations (Scopus)


This article describes two studies that examined people's emotional responses to threatening encounters with nature. In Study 1, participants from The Netherlands were asked to describe a fearful experience with nature in their home country. We identified four broad categories of fear-relevant situations, named Close Encounters, Forceful Situations, Overwhelming Situations, and Disorienting Situations. Each of these situations evoked negative as well as positive emotions. Study 2 investigated the role of sensation seeking and gender in emotional responses to standardized descriptions of threatening encounters with nature. High sensation seekers and men, as compared to low sensation seekers and women, responded less often with negative emotion and avoidance tendencies, and more often with positive emotion and approach tendencies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)261-272
JournalJournal of Environmental Psychology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2005


  • sensation seeking
  • perceived danger
  • beta-endorphin
  • evolved module
  • preparedness
  • experience
  • preference
  • phobias
  • management
  • wilderness

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