Does biodiversity promote greater human happiness?

Does biodiversity promote greater human happiness?

People appear to be happier and reinvigorated when in more natural settings. But are all green spaces equal at promoting happiness? Diversity—the number and abundance of different species in particular systems—is thought to be important for ensuring the resilience of ecosystem services (such as food production, climate regulation, and pest control) that underpin human wellbeing. Yet it is possible that biodiversity plays an additional, more immediate role in affecting happiness. Psychological research shows that people adapt quickly to happiness-inducing stimuli, a phenomenon known as hedonic adaptation. One potential way to combat such adaptation is through variety and novelty. Natural environments with greater diversity present a richer variety of natural stimuli, thus potentially offering an environment where hedonic adaptation may well be blunted. This prediction—with fundamental implications for conservation as well as land-use planning—remains largely untested. In the current project, our central research aim is to examine whether biodiversity is related to people’s happiness. We will study this question among both nature enthusiasts and the general public, and look at the impact of both actual diversity in a person’s immediate surroundings and perceived biodiversity. We will also examine how well the impact of biodiversity on happiness compares to other modes of well-being improvement—such watching sports, shopping, and socializing. Finally, we also aim to track well-being changes over time, modelling how sustainable the increases in well-being might be from biodiversity exposure.

Project Overview

Type: Funded Projects
Theme: Valuing biodiversity and ecosystem services
Start date: July 1, 2014
Status: Complete

Project team

CCI partners Involved

Other Organisations Involved

University of Essex


Thumbnail: Darren Johnson via Flickr creative commons Banner: Mats Hagwall via Flickr creative commons

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