GREENERY and colour in an urban environment can make people happier, a recent study has found.
It has been known for a long time that colour can lift our mood. It is why things designed to attract us are often brightly coloured, like fairgrounds, window displays or advertisements. Since the pandemic began, we’ve also become much more aware of the importance of spending time in green spaces. Now, a team of scientists has shown that having greenery and colour in cities can not only make us happier, but calmer as well.
The team from Lille in France used VR (virtual reality) headsets to test how people reacted to different environments. The 36 volunteers walked on the spot while the researchers tweaked eye trackers on the headsets to change what they were seeing.
Starting from a concrete, glass and metal cityscape, the researchers added plants and colours such as pink and yellow. Then the scientists noted the blink rates of the volunteers to see what attracted them most. The volunteers were asked to complete a questionnaire about how they felt, too. The results showed that they walked more slowly and kept their heads high, looking around instead of looking at the ground, in the greener, more colourful environments. That indicated that they were more at ease.
However, the study also showed that colour alone did not have the same calming effects as greenery and, therefore, could not be used to replace plants and flowers. But adding coloured paint to walls is inexpensive and so can be a useful tool to increase the impact of the greenery.
While the study was small, and there has been some negative reaction to the methods used, it adds to the growing amount of research on the value of plants and colour in the creation of urban landscapes.