We at The Optimist Daily have written a great deal about the positive effects of greenery in cities. They sequester carbon, boost climate resiliency, and they cheer people up. Now, there is research to support greenery, along with bright colors, making cities more enjoyable.
A study from the University of Lille in Northern France gave 36 participants virtual reality headsets and had them walk around in a simulated minimalist city. In the city was the usual concrete, glass, and steel, but the programmers gradually added pinks and yellows and contrasting patterns to the setting. Then they tracked the participants’ blink patterns and reactions with questionnaires.
The researchers found that participants’ heart rates increased and they slowed their pace when they saw green vegetation. They also looked up more, instead of down. With brighter and more varied colors, the participants were more alert and curious.
“We think that the variations in human behavior obtained in virtual reality can predict the changes that would be obtained in the natural settings,” said Yvonne Delevoye-Turrell, professor of cognitive psychology at the university and the lead author of the study,
Delevoye-Turrell and her team found definitive, biological evidence that adding green spaces and color to a city makes it more pleasurable for its inhabitants. The study was part of a growing field of research into how to improve morale in cities using green spaces and splashes of color.
Next, the team will research the physiological effect of green spaces and colors on participants, in biomarkers such as body temperature. They will even be introducing smells into the simulations.