The HappyHier project by Sjerp de Vries

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#KeynoteTalks 15 September 2017


The HappyHier project

The project is run by a consortium consisting of the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL, the Hague), Wageningen Environmental Research (Alterra, Wageningen), and CentERdata (Tilburg). Inspired by the Mappiness-study of MacKerron & Mourato (2013) it was decided to explore this new method of spatially explicit data gathering. An app was developed to perform Ecological Momentary Assessments (EMA’s). The central research question is how people’s happiness is influenced by the physical environment in which they find themselves. The app generates push messages (notifications) that prompt the participant to fill out a short questionnaire, starting with how happy they feel at that moment. Other questions ask are about the activity they were performing and in which company they find themselves. The location is determined by the GPS-coordinates stored on the smartphone during the assessment and also a timestamp is included. The main difference with the Mappiness app is that the notifications are not sent based on random time sampling (during daytime), but on the type of environment in which the participant is present (based on a land use map). Timewise, green areas are oversampled. In the Spring of 2016 the app was launched in both the App and the Play store and media attention for the HappyHier project was generated. The crowd sourcing efforts resulted over 4000 participants that on average filled out 25 EMA’s, leading to a grand total of over 100.000 completed EMA’s. At the moment, the data are analyzed. First results will be reported at the conference.

Sjerp de Vries (1960) studied psychology at the University of Groningen and received his PhD in 1991 from that same university (cum laude). At the moment, he works as a senior researcher at Wageningen Environmental Research (Alterra), part of Wageningen University & Research. His main research topic is the interaction of people with their natural environment, nowadays also often referred to as cultural ecosystem services. This includes landscape appreciation, outdoor recreational behaviour and the effect of contact with nature on human health and well-being. Sjerp specializes in quantitative empirical research, ranging from experiments, intervention studies, surveys, secondary data analysis, to modelling. In his work, he likes to combine social science methods with GIS-data and -analyses. An example of this is the GIS-based Landscape Appreciation Model (GLAM). Most of his research is commissioned by authorities at different levels, from national to municipal, and organisations such as the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL) and Staatsbosbeheer (former State Forest Service).

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