The Biophilia Hypothesis and Life in the 21st Century: Increasing Mental Health or Increasing Pathology?

Abstract

Wilson's biophilia hypothesis includes the claim that, as a consequence of evolution, humans have an “innate tendency to focus on life and lifelike processes.” A review of various literatures converges to support this central claim. One area of support for our innate affiliation with nature comes from research demonstrating increased psychological well-being upon exposure to natural features and environments. Support also comes from the strength and prevalence of phobic responses to stimuli of evolutionary significance and near absence of such responses to potentially dangerous human-made stimuli. That survival emotions of equivalent intensity and prevalence have failed to develop in response to modern life-threatening stimuli can be explained by the extremely rapid process of change and progress that has occurred post World War II and continues at an ever increasingly rapid pace. Given that our modern ways of living, as prescribed by Western industrialised culture, stand in stark contrast to our evolutionary history, it is proposed that we may currently be witnessing the beginnings of significant adverse outcomes for the human psyche.

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Gullone, E. The Biophilia Hypothesis and Life in the 21st Century: Increasing Mental Health or Increasing Pathology?. Journal of Happiness Studies 1, 293–322 (2000). https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1010043827986

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  • mental health
  • psychopathology
  • evolutionary
  • biophilia
  • natural environment.