Environmental aesthetics

Happy people tend to be productive and loyal people, and so establishing and cultivating the causes of happiness can be a route to enhancing business performance. Many studies have pointed to a correlation between natural environments and happiness; in part leading to the trend towards biophilia in office design. A recent study by the University of Warwick goes further than this, establishing for the first time a statistically significant link between happiness and the ‘scenicness’ of one’s environment. Using data from Mappiness and crowdsourced geocoded ratings from Scenic-or-Not, the researchers then stripped out other potential causal factors, such as companionship, the weather and affluence. Whilst the results found a coincidence between natural environments and the scenicness rating, green space in itself was only a small contributor, with built-up scenic areas generating greater happiness than average quality rural areas. The authors offer various potential reasons for the relationship, including that people feel more restful and safer, and that environmental features, that have proven beneficial throughout history, evoke positive emotions. The findings should prove interesting to policy makers (particularly in respect of conservation), developers (in terms of investment in high-quality design) and those choosing where to locate their office (in terms of the impact on their staff).