Virginia I. Lohr and Caroline H. Pearson-Mims 
 


Physical discomfort may be reduced in the presence of interior plants


Summary. 

This experiment was designed to examine the role of plants in people's responses to physical discomfort.  Subjects were randomly assigned to a treatment room with plants, colorful objects, or nothing added.  Each was asked to place his or her hand in ice water and remove the hand if it was uncomfortable.  Subjects were also asked about their perceptions of the treatment room. 
 

Control treatment room - no plants or colorful
                    objects addedPlants treatment - room with
                    plants addedNon-plant treatment -
                    colorful objects added to the room
 (Click on photo for a larger version.)
 
We found that more subjects were willing to keep a hand submerged in ice water for 5 minutes if they were in a room with plants present than if they were in a room without plants.  This was found to be true even when the room without plants had other colorful objects that might help the subject focus on something other than the discomfort.  Results from a room assessment survey confirmed that the room with colorful, non-plant objects was as interesting and colorful as the room with plants present, but the presence of plants was perceived as making the air in the room fresher.
 

 
The following article discusses this research, which was partially supported by the American Floral Endowment

Lohr, V.I. and C.H. Pearson-Mims. 2000. Physical discomfort may be reduced in the presence of interior plants.  HortTechnology 10(1):53-58. 

Lohr, V.I. and C.H. Pearson-Mims. 2008. People's response to discomfort in the presence of interior plants or art. Acta Horticulturae 790:173-178.





Virginia Lohr (E-mail: lohr@wsu.edu
Caroline H. Pearson-Mims (E-mail: pearson@wsu.edu)
Department of Horticulture
Washington State University
Pullman, Washington 99164-6414 U.S.A.

Updated April 5, 2013