Research Seminar: 18th October 2016

Nature and well-being:
Building an evidence base

There has been an explosion of interest in the possibility that regular exposure to natural (as opposed to built) environments may be beneficial for our psychological well-being. The idea itself is not new and makes a lot of intuitive sense. However, the quality of the available evidence in support of the hypothesis is extremely mixed. The aim of this talk is to present an overview of some of the work we have been undertaking in this area at the European Centre for Environment & Human Health over the last 4 years. The talk will present data from four broad methodological perspectives (epidemiological, experimental, experiential and economic) and present data pertinent to questions such as how much exposure is necessary, how do any benefits of nature compare to other things that are good for our well-being, does the quality and type of the natural environment matter, will the benefits of moving to a greener area last, and what are the potential savings to annual NHS budgets from current levels of physical activity in nature? The talk is very much structured to encourage comment, discussion and the development of new ideas, rather than an attempt to present an exhaustive summary of results in the field.

Dr Mathew White
University of Exeter Medical School

3.00pm to 4.00pm in 01AC02

Dr Mathew White did a PhD in Social Trust in the Psychology Dept. at the University of Sheffield, before post-doctoral positions in the areas of group processes and social conflict (Jena, Germany), and the development of national indicators of subjective well-being (Imperial, London). He was a lecturer in the Psychology Dept. at the University of Plymouth for six years before moving to the European Centre for Environment and Human Health in the University of Exeter’s Medical School in 2011. His work at the ECEHH has focused on health and pro-environmental behaviour change alongside studies into nature and well-being. Sadly he discovered his true calling (to be a professional surfer) far too late in life to be any good at all, though at least the enjoyment of getting bashed about in the waves has influenced his current work which focuses predominantly on the psychological effects of spending time in and around marine and coastal environments (e.g. Work Package lead on an Horizons 2020 project exploring these issues across the EU: