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Biophilia hypothesis


Biophilia hypothesis

The biophilia hypothesis suggests that there is an instinctive bond between human beings and other living systems. Edward O. Wilson introduced and popularized the hypothesis in his book, Biophilia (1984).[1] He defines biophilia as "the urge to affiliate with other forms of life".[2]


  • Love of living systems 1
  • Product of biological evolution 2
  • Biophilia and Conservation 3
  • Development 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7

Love of living systems

The term "biophilia" literally means "love of life or living systems." It was first used by phillia, or friendship, Aristotle evokes the idea of reciprocity and how friendships are beneficial to both parties in more than just one way, but especially in the way of happiness.[4]

In the book Children and Nature: Psychological, Sociocultural, and Evolutionary Investigations edited by Peter Kahn and Stephen Kellert,[5] the importance of animals, especially those with which a child can develop a nurturing relationship, is emphasised particularly for early and middle childhood. Chapter 7 of the same book reports on the help that animals can provide to children with autistic-spectrum disorders.[6]

Product of biological evolution

Human preferences toward things in nature, while refined through experience and culture, are hypothetically the product of biological evolution. For example, adult mammals (especially humans) are generally attracted to baby mammal faces and find them appealing across species. The large eyes and small features of any young mammal face are far more appealing than those of the mature adults. The biophilia hypothesis suggests that the positive emotional response that adult mammals have toward baby mammals across species helps increase the survival rates of all mammals.

Similarly, the hypothesis helps explain why ordinary people care for and sometimes risk their lives to save domestic and wild animals, and keep plants and flowers in and around their homes. In other words, our natural love for life helps sustain life.

Very often, flowers also indicate potential for food later. Most fruits start their development as flowers. For our ancestors, it was crucial to spot, detect and remember the plants that would later provide nutrition.

Biophilia and Conservation

Because of our technological advancements and more time spent inside buildings and cars, it is argued that the lack of biophilic activities and time spent in nature may be strengthening the disconnect of humans from nature. Although, it also has shown strong urges among people to reconnect with nature. The concern for a lack of connection with the rest of nature outside of us, is that a stronger disregard for other plants, animals and less appealing wild areas could lead to further ecosystem degradation and species loss. Therefore reestablishing a connection with nature has become more important in the field of conservation.[7] Examples would be more available green spaces in and around cities, more classes that revolve around nature and implementing smart design for greener cities that integrate ecosystems into them such as [biophilic cities]. These Cities can also become part of wildlife corridors to help with migrational and territorial needs of other animals.[8]


The hypothesis has since been developed as part of theories of evolutionary psychology in the book The Biophilia Hypothesis edited by Stephen R. Kellert and Edward O. Wilson[9] and by Lynn Margulis. Also, Stephen Kellert's work seeks to determine common human responses to perceptions of, and ideas about, plants and animals, and to explain them in terms of the conditions of human evolution.

See also


  1. ^ Wilson, Edward O. (1984). Biophilia.  
  2. ^ Kellert & Wilson 1995, p. 416.
  3. ^ Fromm, Erich (1964). The Heart of Man.  
  4. ^ SANTAS, ARISTOTELIS. "Aristotelian Ethics And Biophilia." Ethics & The Environment 19.1 (2014): 95-121. GreenFILE. Web. 24 Feb. 2015
  5. ^ Kahn, Peter; Kellert, Stephen (2002). Children and nature: psychological, sociocultural, and evolutionary investigations.  
  6. ^ Katcher, Aaron (2002). "Animals in Therapeutic Education: Guides into the Liminal State". In Kahn, Peter H.; Kellert, Stephen R. Children and Nature: Psychological, Sociocultural, and Evolutionary Investigations. MIT Press.  
  7. ^ Rogers, Kara. "Biophilia Hypothesis". Encyclopedia Birtannica. Retrieved 10.2.2015. 
  8. ^ Biophilic Cities [] . Retrieved 10.3.15. 
  9. ^ Kellert, Stephen R. (ed.) (1993). The Biophilia Hypothesis.  
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External links

  • Edward O. Wilson's Biophilia Hypothesis (
  • Biophilia, biomimicry, and sustainable design (
  • The Economics of Biophilia Terrapin Bright Green (
  • "Biophilia", website for Biophilia magazine.
  • Complexity, Patterns and Biophilia ArchNet International Journal of Architectural Research (
  • 14 Patterns of Biophilic Design Terrapin Bright Green (
  • "Biophilia: Does Visual Contact with Nature Impact on Health and Well-Being?" National Center for Biotechnology Information (
  • "Biophilic Architecture and Biophilic Design" by Antonio Caperna, International Society of Biourbanism (
  • "Biourbanism for a healthy city: biophilia and sustainable urban theories and practices" by Antonio Caperna and Eleni Tracada, University of Derby (UK) - UDORA Repository
  • "Introduction to Biophilic Biophilic Design" by Antonio Caperna, International Society of Biourbanism
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