Harvard Study Investigates the Home Ecology of Flowers
Behavioral Research Concludes; Living with Fresh Cut Flowers Strengthens Feelings of Compassion, Decreases Anxiety and Worry
Alexandria, VA, October 16, 2006 - With people's desire for tranquility and stress relief stronger than ever, fresh research takes an insightful look at fresh cut flowers and the important role they may play in our daily lives. 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.
"Other research has proven that fresh cut flowers make people happy when they receive them," said Etcoff. "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 Study at Harvard uncovered three main findings:
1. Flowers feed compassion.
Study participants who lived with cut flowers for less than a week felt an increase in feelings of compassion and kindness for others.
2. Flowers chase away anxieties, worries and the blues at home.
Overall, people in the study simply felt less negative after being around fresh cut flowers at home for just a few days. Participants most
frequently placed the fresh cut flowers in their kitchens, dining room and living rooms, where they spend a lot of time at home. They
reported wanting to see the blooms first thing in the morning.
3. Living with flowers can provide a boost of energy, happiness and enthusiasm at work.
The Home Ecology of Flowers Research Methodology
Nancy Etcoff, Ph.D., of Massachusetts General Hosptial 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 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 pf the Program in Aesthetics and Well Being. At Harvard, she currently teaches a course entitles "The Science of Happiness".