Plants improve performance in VR offices, study finds

29 June 2023
University of Hamburg and Max Planck Institute for Human Development certify positive influence on cognition and well-being

Virtual plants can improve cognitive abilities and psychological well-being in virtual offices, researchers have found. The study was carried out by the University Hospital Hamburg-Eppendorf (UKE) and the Max Planck Institute for Human Development, led by the Department of Computer Science at the University of Hamburg, a press release said Tuesday (June 19, 2023).

Improved memory, creativity and well-being

"The results of our study show that when virtual plants were present, participants performed significantly better on both short-term memory and creativity tasks than people who did not have plants in their virtual offices," said Dr. Fariba Mostajeran, lead author of the study and a member of the "Human-Computer Interaction" research group at the University of Hamburg. Participants also spoke of improved psychological well-being and less anger and aggression. "The virtual office with plants was perceived as more restful and conveyed a stronger sense of presence. Overall, these results illustrate that  the presence of virtual plants can have a positive impact on users. They provide impetus for designing working and learning spaces in future," said Prof. Dr. Frank Steinicke, co-author of the study and head of the research group.

Plants studied in isolation in VR rooms

Around 39 participants completed tasks in a virtual office with and without plants. Then they rated their mood and feelings. The study is the first of its kind to examine the presence or absence of plants in VR rooms in isolation, and to exclude other influencing factors. 


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