By Colleen Vanderlinden, Planet Green
Houseplants clean the air and brighten a room. Occasionally, they drive us mad as we wonder how exactly we managed to kill yet another “unkillable” houseplant. (In that way, they provide great lessons in perseverance as well!) But it looks like there’s one more great reason to grow houseplants: their presence in your workspace might actually make you smarter.
According to a recent study published in The Journal of Environmental Psychology, just having plants in your work space is enough to increase your attention span. An increase in attention span means that we’re able to remember more of what we read. To test the hypotheses, the study’s authors gave subjects a Reading Span Task, which requires reading sentences aloud, then remembering the last word in each sentence. This requires reading, memorization, and recall abilities, and switching between the three.
The researchers had their entire test pool complete Reading Span Tasks to get a baseline reading. Then they moved some of the people to a room with no plants, and others to a room that had four plants around the desk. They were all asked to repeat the Reading Span Tasks, and the people who worked near a plant improved overall, while those without plants stayed roughly the same.
Beauty, fresh air, the joy of caring for another living thing — all great reasons to have a few houseplants around. If they help increase attention spans, all the better!