Category Archives: Research

Anxiety and fear give way to joy and awe when we tune into scenes of the natural world

Anxiety and fear give way to joy and awe when we tune into scenes of the natural world, finds a study commissioned by BBC, makers of “Planet Earth II.” from Watching nature documentaries boosts happiness, says study | MNN – Mother Nature Network

There’s a lot of research tracking and measuring the benefits of engaging with nature, and much of it is done using video, TV and other kinds of images. This is the first time I’ve seen research of this kind commissioned by a specific TV show  and the results are very interesting. They also back up my own theory of technobiophilia, “the innate attraction to life and lifelike processes as they appear in technology“.

BBC Earth commissioned a multi-country online quantitative study to examine the impact of watching natural history content on viewers’ emotions. This was conducted in partnership with an international panel company, with data collected and weighted to be nationally representative in each country. Respondents viewed one of five clips: two from Planet Earth II, one from a popular drama, one montage of news coverage, and one control video. The hypothesis was that watching content from Planet Earth II could improve the sensation of positive emotions and reduce the sensation of negative emotions. The study found a range of significant results evidencing not only that watching content from Planet Earth II inspired significant increases in feelings of awe, contentedness, joy, amusement and curiosity, but that it also acted to reduce feelings of tiredness, anger and stress. In the majority of cases, changes in emotions were caused by the type of content viewed, and significantly different from the control group. Our findings therefore support the conclusion that viewing Planet Earth II inspires positive changes in emotions that are distinct to the natural history genre.

Dacher Keltner, Richard Bowman, and Harriet Richards. University of Berkeley, California; BBC Worldwide Global Insight Team

Just in case you don’t believe it, test yourself with this cute aardvark movie.




New website for CyberParks

cyberparksThe EU CyberParks project, of which I’m a member, has launched its new website.

You may wonder what a CyberPark is? This is our draft definition:
“A cyberpark is designed ecosystem of living processes and technologies. It comprises an outdoor green or blue space interacting with a digital intelligent environment. It usually contains living beings, plants, trees, and water features, many of which are integrated with computerised sensors, haptic technologies and virtual objects.” Its features can vary widely. For example, it can be used for a range of purposes such as exercise, leisure, social interaction, relaxation and many other activities.

  • It may be public or private.
  • It can be found in urban, suburban, rural, coastal and wilderness areas.
  • It can consist of a large area of land not covered with buildings, roads, or sports facilities, or a dedicated small area in such places as streets, squares, buildings (courtyards, roofs), or disused thoroughfares like the New York Highline. It can also be a beach, ocean, lake, river, or wetland.

CyberParks’ main objective is to create a research platform on the relationship between Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) and the production of public open spaces, and their relevance to sustainable urban development. The impacts of this relationship will be explored from social, ecological and urban design perspectives. Please follow us on our journey!

SURVEY Playing on computers vs playing out in nature. How do your kids balance their time?


We live in a world where many kids can use sophisticated technologies but also have access to the wonders of nature, whether it’s the family veg patch or the great outdoors.

I’m writing an article about the ways in which we can make these opportunities work together in harmonious and positive ways, and I’ve love to hear about your own experiences.

If you’re a parent, grandparent, teacher or carer of kids aged between 0-18, I’d be most grateful if you would fill out this short survey.

Many thanks.