Theories on perception and preferences

1.1.1 The biophilia hypothesis

The biophilia hypothesis was developed by Edward O. Wilson, biologist in Harvard University, in 1984. The biophilia hypothesis proclaims that human beings have an inherent need for affiliation with natural environments and other forms of life. Wilson suggests that preferences for natural environments have a biological foundation as a result of human’s evolutionary process. Since human beings spent most of their evolutionary history in natural environments as hunters and gatherers, they have a hereditary inclination towards establishing an emotional bond with nature and other livings. Ulrich (1993) explains the proposition for biophilia as that during evolution certain rewards or advantages associated with natural settings were crucial for survival and humans acquired, and then retained, positive responses to unthreatening natural settings. He states that human’s positive responses to natural settings in terms of such as liking, restoration and enhanced cognitive functioning might be influenced by biologically prepared learning. On the other hand, McVay (1993) questions whether biophilia hypothesis can influence our attitudes towards our world in a more environmental friendly manner. He emphasizes the need for realization of our evolutionary based need for affiliation with nature by everyone who shares the responsibility of human future.