Cultural Niche Construction as a Framework for Reorienting Human−Environment Relations

Michiru Nagatsu*, Roope O. Kaaronen, Mikko Salmela, Miles MacLeod

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
16 Downloads (Pure)


In this paper, we argue that the theory of cultural niche construction provides a cogent and fruitful framework for studying and managing human−environment relationships, including our conceptualizations of them. We first review the development of the ideas of niche construction from evolutionary to social contexts. We then discuss how various human cognitive and affective goals are achieved through our engagement and interaction with the environment, as cognitive and affective niche construction. We extend this analysis to the built environment, as urban niche construction, and provide two examples of urban design for which niche construction provides useful theoretical and practical insights. We also discuss how different urban policy initiatives are related through the lens of cultural niche construction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)413-432
Number of pages20
JournalTopics in Cognitive Science
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2023


  • Cognitive and affective niche
  • Conceptual engineering
  • Human−nature relations
  • Niche construction
  • Scaffolded cognition
  • Sustainability
  • Urban design


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