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Abstract

Do humans have a natural habitat? If yes, is it the original habitat of early hominids or the most optimal environment for today’s humans? Are these two the same thing and, if not, what does ‘optimal habitat’ mean? I examine the concept of the optimal habitat from four viewpoints: 1) paradise; 2) urban design based on environmental psychology; 3) favorite places; and 4) environment as an invitation for action. I conclude that an optimal habitat is not a collection of more or less fixed elements but an environment that can be experienced as a beneficial feedback loop based on and responding to cognitive, emotional, aesthetic, and other needs. Different environments can prompt or hinder this experience of optimal habitat and consequently improve or diminish subjective well-being.

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