We Don’t Know How Much We Love Nature

The documented number of daily affective forecasting errors continues to pile up:

In two experiments, we found that although outdoor walks in nearby nature made participants much happier than indoor walks did, participants made affective forecasting errors, such that they systematically underestimated nature’s hedonic benefit.


To the extent that affective forecasts determine choices, our findings suggest that people fail to maximize their time in nearby nature and thus miss opportunities to increase their happiness and relatedness to nature.

The great irony of affective forecasting is that errors are incredibly easy to identify and understand, yet nearly impossible to solve. In general, it’s hard to remedy the fact the people don’t know what they want without posing a serious challenge to idea of democratic liberty.

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