So says a less than critical article on the Mother Nature Network [MNN].
Well, to be picky, it actually says that "Watching nature documentaries boosts happiness. Anxiety and fear give way to joy and awe when we tune into scenes of the natural world", but given that the study was commissioned by the BBC, it amounts to much the same thing. The article starts:
"Need a mood boost, but don't have time to hit the great outdoors? Try the next best thing and turn on a nature documentary. A recent study has found that tuning into nature documentaries can have an immediate impact on increasing happiness and reducing overall stress. The study was commissioned by the BBC to mark the launch of its new critically-acclaimed nature series "Planet Earth II."
There you are. Could it be that it's the happier people who tend to watch nature programmes? MNN goes on:
"Using special facial recognition software fed by webcams, the research team analyzed the expressions in real-time of 7,500 participants from the U.S., UK, South Africa and Australia. Before and after watching clips from the series, the volunteers were also asked to complete short surveys on their emotional well-being. According to the study results, those engaged in watching nature programming had significant increases in feelings of awe, amazement, wonder; curiosity, interest and wanting to explore. Conversely, feelings of nervousness, anxiety, fear, and low energy were significantly lowered."
You can read the report all this is based on here. I wonder if people get the same reaction from watching those meerkat TV adverts.