Dr Sjerp de Vries

Happyhier: Sampling Happiness In Natural Environments Using Smartphones

27 April, 2018
University of Wollongong 

Co Speaker A/Prof Thomas Astell-Burt is a Founding Co-Director

of the PowerLab and an NHMRC Boosting Dementia Research Leadership Fellow. Thomas will outline recently published findings by the PowerLab in the area of environment and population health in Australia and overseas.

Dr Sjerp de Vries is a senior scientific researcher at Wageningen Environmental Research, an institute for applied research that is part of Wageningen University & Research, the Netherlands. Trained as an experimental psychologist, he has been investigating what nowadays often is referred to as cultural ecosystem services for over 25 years. This includes outdoor recreational behaviour, nature and landscape appreciation, and the effect of contact with nature on human health and well-being. In his work, he uses various methods: from experimental studies to nationwide GIS-based models. He has co-authored several influential papers on nature and human health. Momentarily, he is a temporary adviser of WHO Europe with regard to the health benefits of green space in an urban context.

Seminar abstract: Most epidemiological studies on nature and human health look at associations between the amount of greenery in the residential environment on the one hand and some measure of health (or well-being) on the other hand. However, especially with regard to mental health, it is usually assumed that merely the presence of green space is not enough, but that actual contact with this green space is required to produce the beneficial effects. Also, the type of green space and the type of contact may matter. However, data on actual contacts are more difficult to come by, even more so when such contacts cannot limited to purposeful visits to green spaces during leisure time. A relatively new method to gather such data are ecological momentary assessments by way of an app for smartphones. HappyHier (HappyHere) is a large-scale Dutch study making use of this method. In the seminar, experiences and first results of this study will be presented.