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Previous research has demonstrated that natural views and access to plants appear to have significant beneficial effects on individuals (Relf, 1992). Studies of green views out of a classroom window showed significant reductions in students’ mental fatigue (Li & Sullivan, 2016), and studies of indoor plants in hospital settings showed stress reduction and increased healing rates in patients (Ulrich, 1984). Indoor plants in the workplace demonstrated improved employee performance (Kweon, Ulrich, Walker, & Tassinary, 2008). However, there have been few studies examining the impact indoor plants might have in a classroom setting. This study used an experimental design to measure the impact of indoor plants on participants’ stress levels, mental fatigue, and test performance. Forty-eight students and non-students recruited from a small liberal arts college in Marin County were given a timed 12-question math test. The test environment for the experimental group included green, leafy, indoor plants, whereas the test environment for the control group was devoid of plants. The participants’ level of immediate post-test stress and mental fatigue was self-measured using 12 questions from the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (Spielberger, Gorsuch, Lushene, Vagg, & Jacobs, 1983) and the Profile of Mood States (Grove & Prapavessis, 1993). Results of the current study indicated that, relative to those in the control group, participants exposed to indoor plants reported similar levels of stress and fatigue, and showed no significant difference in test performance. A correlation was found between participants’ levels of stress, tension, and fatigue. The current study was unique in its design, and further research is needed in a classroom environment to fully demonstrate the benefits of indoor plants on stress, fatigue, and test performance of students.



Faculty Advisor

Veronica Fruiht, Ph,D.

Publication Date

Spring 2017


San Rafael,CA


plants, biophilia, attention restoration theory, stress, mental fatigue


Alternative and Complementary Medicine | Plant Sciences | Psychiatry and Psychology

Stress Reducing Effects of Indoor Plants in a Classroom Setting