Study: Greenery and bright colors in cities can boost morale | psychology

The presence of bright colors and greenery in our cities can make people happier and calmer, according to an unusual experience that includes virtual reality headsets.

A team of researchers at the University of Lille in FranceUse VR to test how volunteers react to variations in simplified urban landscapes of concrete, glass, and metal. The 36 participants immediately walked into a lab wearing virtual reality goggles equipped with eye-trackers, and the researchers adjusted their surroundings, adding groups of plants, as well as bright yellow and pink colors, and contrasting angular patterns on the track.

By tracking the rate of their eyelashes, the researchers learned what the volunteers cared about most. The participants then filled out a questionnaire about their experience.

The researchers found that volunteers walked more slowly and had an increased heart rate when they saw green plants in their urban setting. They also kept their heads high, looking forward and around them, rather than turning toward the ground. While adding and removing colors didn’t make much difference to the participants, they were more curious and alert when adding colored patterns to the ground they were roughly advancing on, according to the study. according to Yvonne Delevoy Turiela professor of cognitive psychology at the university and lead author of the study, the results showed that the urban experience became more enjoyable.

Research published on Friday in Borders in Virtual Reality, notes that making some small tweaks to the city boosts morale, even when people experience it through virtual reality. “We believe that differences in human behavior obtained in virtual reality can predict changes that are obtainable in natural environments,” Delevoy Turrell said.

Michel Matlona psychologist and consultant architectural psychologist, who was not involved in the study, said: “I think that although most people value nature in cities – they find it beautiful, and usually react with anger when it is taken away – they don’t. Fully understand how beneficial it is to spend time in nature.

“We often underestimate the complex effects that nature can have in ordinary places.”

Matlon said even the smallest changes, as shown in the study, can affect someone’s experience on their way to work, for example.

New York Elevated Park, High Line
Manhattan’s elevated garden, the High Line, is a good example of adding plants to an urban setting. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The findings are part of a growing body of restorative research vegetation effects And the color in urban areas.

but, Stephen Lyman, a professor of architecture at the University of Nevada in the US, who was not involved in the study, wondered if virtual reality simulations could provide the inputs to support the thesis. He said he was also concerned that the study was reductive.

He said, “It is not particularly useful to build a scientific argument about cleavage, ‘concrete versus vegetation.’”[This issue] It requires a more distinguished and nuanced discussion.”

Using virtual reality to conduct the study was central to the experiment, Delevoye-Turrell said, because testing items in real-life environments could mean very little control over the distractions participants experienced, such as noise, traffic or weather changes.

“We have tapped into the technological capabilities to produce a virtual environment that offers similarly immersive experiences, [in contrast to] Delevoy Turrell said.

She also plans in future research to measure physiological changes, such as temperature, and add scents and sound to create multisensory and immersive environments, she said.