Losses in biodiversity and trends toward urbanisation have reduced people’s contact with biodiverse nature, yet the consequences for mental well-being are not well understood. Here, we demonstrate that greater plant and animal species richness in isolation causes an improvement in mental well-being. To do so, the present research experimentally manipulated species richness and assessed widely-used indicators of mental well-being. Participants viewed short videos of either high or low tree (Study 1) or bird (Study 2) species richness and reported on positive (i.e., vitality, positive affect) and negative (i.e., anxiety) indicators of mental well-being. Building on Study 1, Study 2 included an urban environment as a reference treatment and explored the role of giving participants information on the presented environment. We find that, in line with expectations, watching videos containing greater species richness consistently leads to higher mental well-being. We discuss findings in light of the importance of connecting people to biodiverse environments.
Wolf, L. J., zu Ermgassen, S., Balmford, A., White, M., & Weinstein, N. (2017). Is variety the spice of life? An experimental investigation into the effects of species richness on self-reported mental well-being. PLoS ONE, 12(1). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0170225