BEAUTY, proverbially, is in the eye of the beholder. But surroundings matter. A paper published two years ago in Nature found a correlation between people’s sense of well-being and the “scenicness” of where they lived. The paper’s authors measured scenicness by asking volunteers to play an online game called Scenic-or-Not, which invites participants to look at photographs of neighbourhoods and rate their scenic value on a scale of one to ten.
The correlation, the paper’s authors found, held true whether a neighbourhood was urban, suburban or rural. It bore no relation to respondents’ social and economic status. Nor did levels of air pollution have any influence on it. The authors also discovered that differences in respondents’ self-reported health were better explained by the scenicness of where those respondents lived than by the amount of green space around them.