LSE research project Mappiness is using the iPhone to track people’s levels of happiness

How happy does green space make us?

Most people would accept that the environment has a big effect on their level of wellbeing. But it’s been impossible to quantify just what that effect is – until now.

A research project, Mappiness, at the London School of Economics, is using the iPhone to track people’s levels of happiness by beeping them twice a day and asking them to enter data about their location, activity and emotions. The data gets sent back – anonymously and securely – to a data store, along with the participant’s approximate location from the iPhone’s GPS, together with a noise-level measure.

So far more than 32,000 participants have signed up for the Mappiness app, which is downloadable free from the Apple Store. More than 2m responses have been submitted.

Early findings indicate that every environment is better for happiness than continuous urban areas, with coasts, mountains and woodlands having the most pronounced positive effects on mood.

Project director George MacKerron hopes the final results will enable a proper assessment to be made of the value of green space – useful for politicians such as David Cameron, who has announced that he wants to measure the country’s future progress by levels of personal happiness as well as by GDP growth.

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