Beloved Flower Lover,
A behavioral research study conducted by Nancy Etcoff, Ph.D., of Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, reveals that people feel more compassionate toward others, have less worry and anxiety, and feel less depressed when fresh cut flowers are present in the home.
The Home Ecology of Flowers Study at Harvard uncovered three main findings:
- Flowers feed compassion.
Study participants who lived with fresh cut flowers for less than a week felt an increase in feelings of compassion and kindness for others.
- Flowers chase away anxieties, worries and the blues at home.
Overall, people in the study simply felt less negative after being around flowers at home for just a few days.
Participants most frequently placed flowers in their kitchens, dining rooms and living rooms, where they spend a lot of time at home. They reported wanting to see the blooms first thing in the morning.
- Living with flowers can provide a boost of energy, happiness and enthusiasm at work.
Having flowers at home can have a positive carry-over impact on our mood at work, too. The study found that people were more likely to feel happier and have more enthusiasm and energy at work when flowers were in their home living environments.
“Other research has proven that flowers make people happy when they receive them,” Etcoff says. “What we didn’t know is that spending a few days with flowers in the home can affect a wide variety of feelings.”
The Home Ecology of Flowers Research Methodology
Nancy Etcoff, Ph.D., of Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School and her research team investigated the effects of flowers in the home environment on well being. Fifty-four people, ages 25-60, were studied using a series of self-report measures allowing the research team to know where the person was, with whom and what they were doing when they experienced an emotion, both when flowers were and were not present. Half of the participants received a “control” home decor item, other than flowers, to ensure study validity. After living with either flowers or the control intervention for approximately one week, participants rated their feelings during specific periods of the day, recording emotions during each episode. The research team also took photographs before and after flowers were delivered to determine any changes in use or appearance of the room.
About Dr. Nancy Etcoff
Dr. Nancy Etcoff is a faculty member of the Harvard Medical School and the Harvard University Mind/Brain/Behavior Initiative and a practicing psychologist at the Massachusetts General Hospital Department of Psychiatry where she is the Director of the Program in Aesthetics and Well Being. At Harvard, she currently teaches a course entitled “The Science of Happiness.”
Use these tips to put this seminal floral research into action immediately.
• Display flowers in common areas such as your kitchen, dining and family rooms to experience the greatest mood-boosting effects.
• The kitchen table might be the best place for flowers, because it’s where people gather.
• Match a room’s décor with one of the hottest flower trends — monobotanic (arrangements of all one type of flower) and monochromatic (using all one colour palette, such as a range of pinks).
• Even just a few flowers in a bud vase can perk up a room.
• For a contemporary look, group several vases together holding just one or two stems.
• For an easy, elegant table decoration, set a series of crystal vases on a fabric runner. Place fresh flowers in each of the vases and surround them with greenery.
• In the foyer, create a space to hang your keys that also includes a weekly vase of flowers. It will be the last place you see on your way out the door and the first you see on your way back inside.
• An abundant arrangement of lilies, gladiolus, hydrangea or any large blooms creates an inviting environment for an expansive entryway or dining room.
• Choose soothing colours, like blues and greens, to create a tranquil feeling, or bright reds and oranges for a sensual arrangement.
Etcoff is the author of “Survival of the Prettiest: The Science of Beauty.” She said that she studied “human beauty” because she was interested in the effects of beauty in nature on the human psyche.
As a psychologist, Etcoff said one of the unexpected results of her study was that the presence of plants in the home also leads to heightened relaxation, energy, and compassion at work.
Etcoff said she now plans to study in depth the effects of flowers in the workplace on human emotions.
The London Flower Lover