While IKEA spends most of its time creating affordable home décor and organization products, the Swedish furniture company recently put one of its popular houseplants in the spotlight as part of a social experiment, and people are taking note. In a bid to demonstrate the power of positive reinforcement, the IKEA plant experiment monitored two plants from one of its stores. Despite being kept in identical environments, one plant wilted while the other stayed green and vibrant over the course of one month. The difference? Positive affirmations.
How the IKEA Plant Experiment Worked
IKEA partnered with agency Memac Ogilvy Dubai to show the effects of bullying on plants. It brought its experiment to a local school, GEMS Wellington Academy in Dubai, so students could witness the results in person and even take part in the experiment themselves. "The live experiment involved IKEA taking two of its very own plants and installing them at the school. Both plants were treated strictly the same," a press release said. "The only difference being one plant heard compliments and words of encouragement, while the other was verbally bullied with hateful words, for one month."
The plants were provided the same amount of sunlight and water, but one plant was played recordings on a loop that included positive phrases like, "Seeing you blossom makes me happy," and the other heard negative words like, "You look rotten."
After 30 days, the plant that listened to positive affirmations remained green and lively, but the plant that was "bullied" turned brown and began to rot.
Some may doubt the science behind this experiment, but it offers a look at the power that words can have on living things. The school children got to participate in the experiment, recording both positive and negative affirmations. They then were able to notice firsthand how the plant that was given positive affirmations was flourishing, while the bullied plant started to droop.
While more scientific evidence may be needed to assess how positivity can truly impact a plant, the children who witnessed the experiment were clearly touched by it. "If it can affect a plant, it can definitely affect other people," one student says. Take a look at the case study video to see what the plants looked like following the month-long experiment.