Well there are many things that affect happiness (subjective well-being that is). We at leading brains know a thing or two about this having developed a robust model of well-being over the years. So this piece of research came as a bit of a surprise (but not totally).
And this single factor was as important as income — yes, we know income is not an absolute predictor of happiness, but we also know that income up to a certain level has large effects on well-being for numerous reasons (after that it’s pretty terrible as a predictor).
So what was this factor?
- Diversity of birds, number of species, in the local environment.
Yes, I did say diversity of birds. Why birds? Specifically the researchers were looking at biodiversity and they came on birds as a measure because exposure to birdsong takes place without seeing them, and diversity of birds is strongly correlated to biodiversity in the environment where different species can thrive.
This was, of course, only a way to give an objective measure of biodiversity and also, therefore, exposure to natural environments.
“Europeans are particularly satisfied with their lives if their immediate surroundings host a high species diversity,
This is, in some ways, not a surprise because nature has plenty of positive and well-documented effects on health and well being - read my review of some of these here:
The simplest of things for potent impacts on the brain, health, and performance
This a free article from the free edition of leading brains Review (Take a Walk on the Wild Side)
So birds before income, it is — or rather with income (otherwise you may not be able to live or move to a biodiverse environment). I wonder if this is also what has helped in the pandemic — with birdsong becoming more prevalent in silent cities…just a thought!
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Andy is author of leading brains Review a monthly e-magazine on all things the brain, behaviour, and business