Exposure to nature is often thought to be beneficial. Previous research has supported that idea, finding the presence of plants or immersion in greenspace to have positive effects on emotional wellbeing, cognition, and creativity. This paper identifies past research that supports those ideas as well as investigates participants’ cognitive performance under conditions of genuine plant presence, artificial plant presence, and no plant presence. Five hypotheses were tested to consider if 1.) Participants in the experimental groups would perform better than those in control, 2.) Genuine and artificial plant groups would perform to the same degree, 3.) Childhood environment (Rural, Urban, Suburban, or mixed) would produce differences within groups, 4.) Participants with more positive feelings towards nature would produce better results, and 5.) More participants who indicated positive feelings for nature would be likely to have a houseplant currently. The present study found genuine and artificial plants to have similar effects, but not to a significant degree. Furthermore, it was discovered that participants from an urban childhood performed worse on some tasks while those from rural or mixed environments performed best. Future research should aim to identify further impacts of plants on human psychology as well as whether artificial plants are just as beneficial as real ones. An ideal childhood environment for cognitive development could also be investigated.


Clayton, Susan




Plants, cognition, environmental psychology, influence of plants, artificial plants, cognitive performance tasks

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



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