Happiness is greater in natural environments

Posted by Siru Heiskanen on Nov 10, 2016

Authors: MacKerron, G. and Mourato, S.

Year of publication: 2013

Publication: Environmental Change, 23(5), pp.992-1000.

Keywords: nature, well-being, happiness,

Link to publication

To study how green environments or nature affect our momentary subjective well-being,  researchers from the University of Sussex (2013) developed an innovative data collection tool that gathered over one million responses from more than 20,000 persons. This smartphone application signaled the participants at random moments, presenting a questionnaire while using GPS to determine their location. The study found, that when participants were outdoors in all green or natural environments, they were significantly happier compared to urban environments.

From a scale of 0-100, the happiness of different types of habitats and conditions were compared to urban areas:

  • Marine and coastal areas were the most happiest, by an average of 6 points
  • All other natural environments were from 2.7 and 1.8 points happier
  • Suburban or rural developed environments were less than 1 point happier


The study concluded, that there is a link between nature and subjective well-being and happiness even when a variety of other possible confounders, such as weather, activity, and company, were included to analyses.


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