Joint research of the BBC team, the creators of Planet Earth II and the scientists of the University of California at Berkeley found that watching documentaries about nature significantly increases our sense of happiness and reduces stress and anxiety.
Probably, many will disagree with this statement. Nevertheless, let's find out what nature has to do with our happiness.
The study was conducted by BBC Worldwide scientists and Dacer Keltner, professor of psychology at the University of California at Berkeley, to commemorate the launch of Planet Earth II in the United States.
Features of the study
As part of the global project, researchers used advanced technology on 7,500 participants from a wide range of countries, including the US, UK, Singapore, India, South Africa and Australia.
These technologies helped scientists to read the emotions of participants in real time, while they watched short videos from a variety of television programs, including news, dramas and, of course, Planet Earth II. The results showed that women experienced more dramatic emotional changes when watching documentary videos about nature, and people aged 16 to 24 showed the greatest decrease in nervousness and fatigue.
But in general, the majority experienced a significant increase in positive emotions, including trepidation, joy, curiosity, contentment, enthusiasm and entertainment. The study also showed a significant decrease in such emotions as nervousness, anxiety, fear, stress and fatigue.
Commentary produced by Planet Earth II
"What excites me in this study is to see how Planet Earth II interacts with people at a deep emotional level, which is very useful," said executive producer Mike Ganton. "We always strive to bring our audience closer to nature, so it's fascinating to see that it can generate such positive emotions and has a powerful influence on the mood and well-being of our viewers."
Analysis of scientific works
The study also reviewed the existing 150 scientific papers that explored the relationship between nature and feelings of happiness and well-being. Professor Keltner came to the conclusion that our connection with nature deepens our attention, cognitive abilities and sense of calm, making us pro-social, more effective team players, and even can improve our physical well-being.
"Shifts in emotions when we watch documentaries are significant, because we know that surprise and harmony are the basis of human happiness," Keltner said. "If people experience a feeling of reverence, this is likely to be reflected in sensitive and charitable behavior and will help to cope with stress."
As a direct answer to the research of BBC Earth launched the project "True Happiness". This is a website where you can find not only many animal videos, but also have the opportunity to personalize your content through Happybot, which will adapt the video with animals just for you. You create your "happy moment" by answering a short questionnaire using Facebook Messenger, and you can subscribe to a daily or weekly "dose of happiness" to maintain a high level of oxytocin and reduce stress.