A University of Melbourne study shows that glancing at a grassy green roof for only 40 seconds markedly boosts concentration.
The study, published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology, gave 150 students a boring, attention-sapping task. The students were asked to press a key as a series of numbers repeatedly flashed on a computer screen, unless that number was three.
They were given a 40-second break midway through the task to view a city rooftop scene. Half the group viewed a flowering meadow green roof, the other half looked out onto a bare concrete roof.
After the break, students who glanced at the greener vista made significantly less errors and demonstrated superior concentration on the second half of the task, compared to those who viewed the concrete roof.
The green roof provided a restorative experience that boosted those mental resources that control attention, researchers concluded.
Lead researcher Dr Kate Lee, of the University of Melbourne Faculty of Science, said just a moment of green can provide a boost for tired workers.
“We know that green roofs are great for the environment, but now we can say that they boost attention too. Imagine the impact that has for thousands of employees working in nearby offices,” Dr Lee said.
“This study showed us that looking at an image of nature for less than a minute was all it took to help people perform better on our task.
The research focused on micro-breaks, those short and informal breaks, which happen spontaneously throughout the day.
– Jane Gardner