The team from Warwick Business School used results from an online game called Scenic-Or-Not, which features 217,000 images from around Britain and asks people to rate them according to their “scenicness”. The highest ranked pictures are broadly predictable: snow-capped mountains, tree-banked rivers, wild seascapes.
More surprising was the connection between where people live and their sense of wellbeing. Working off the health data in the 2011 census, the researchers were able to demonstrate that residents in more scenic areas are happier and healthier that those residing in less eye-catching locales.
The reasons why await further scientific investigation, yet lead researcher Chanuki Seresinhe believes it has much to do with our mental disposition (a much publicised recent study shows that exposure to nature reduces stress, for instance) and our behavioural traits (scenic spots prompt us to get outdoors and be more active).
Seresinhe argues that the implications for business are profound. “People spend a lot of time at work and their environment definitely affects them. So if pleasant scenery makes people feel better, there’s a good case that the scenicness of their working environment will have a similar effect.”