A Systematic Review of the Psychological, Social, and Educational Outcomes Associated With Participation in Wildland Recreational Activities


  • W. Hunter Holland Clemson University
  • Robert B. Powell Clemson University
  • Jennifer M. Thomsen University of Montana
  • Christopher A. Monz Utah State University




wildland recreation, outcomes, environmental stewardship, personal development, outdoor recreation


Participation in wildland recreation is associated with a range of individual-level outcomes. Although these outcomes have been extensively studied, few studies have systematically examined and summarized this empirical evidence. Therefore, the goals of this study include identifying (1) the breadth of individual-level outcomes associated with wildland recreation, (2) the setting and programmatic attributes that research suggests are driving these outcomes, and (3) the gaps in the peer-reviewed literature regarding the outcomes associated with wildland recreation. We systematically examined 235 articles published between 2000 and 2016 that evaluated the psychological, social, and educational outcomes associated with participation in wildland recreation. We identified 11 broad categories, the most common related to personal development (59%), pro-social behaviors (52%), mental restoration (42%), and environmental stewardship (36%). Results highlight gaps in our knowledge regarding outcomes and their potential causes. We conclude by discussing trends and implications for managers and future research. 

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Author Biographies

W. Hunter Holland, Clemson University

Department of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management

Robert B. Powell, Clemson University

George B. Hartzog, Jr. Endowed Professor
Dept. of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management

Jennifer M. Thomsen, University of Montana

Assistant Professor

Department of Society and Conservation

Christopher A. Monz, Utah State University


Department of Environment and Society


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