Results of various studies indicate that adults tend to experience positive physiological and psychological changes after visual stimulation of green plants. Research on children to determine if they experience similar results is scarce. This study therefore investigated both the physiological and psychological responses of elementary-age children after viewing green foliage plants.
Twenty-three children (age 11-13) participated in this study. Criteria for participation included right-hand dominance and no pre-existing physical and emotional disorders that could affect the results. Each child participated in an experiment conducted in a room at Konkuk University in Korea. The experiment employed four visual stimuli: an actual plant, artificial plant, photograph of a plant, and no plant. Each child wore a wireless electroencephalogram (EEG) during the experiment during which they were exposed to the four different visual stimuli in random order. The EEG is an electronic monitoring device that measures and records electrical activity in the brain. After the presentation of each stimulus, each child completed a survey measuring his or her psychological response to the stimulations. The survey focused on temporary mood or emotional states, and included items assessing tension-anxiety, depression, naturalness, and comfort level.
EEG results showed a significant decrease in theta waves of the frontal lobe with the presentation of the actual plant. This response did not occur with the other plant-related presentations. “This response indicated that the viewing of living plants prompted improvements in the attention and concentration of the elementary students.” Survey results showed that the children felt more comfortable and natural when viewing the actual plant than while viewing the other plant-related presentations.
This research supports the idea that the visual stimulation of green foliage plants may improve attention and feelings of comfort in elementary school students. Such positive results are less likely to occur with artificial plants, photographs of plants, or the absence of plants.