Degree Name

MA (Master of Arts)



Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Ginette Blackhart

Committee Members

Wallace Dixon, Stacey Williams


Social health is an important predictor of overall health. Yet, it is an often neglected area of research. Strikingly, social connectedness is associated with a 50% reduction in risk of early death. While a plethora of research evidence supports the beneficial impact of nature exposure on physical and mental health, literature regarding the beneficial impact of nature exposure on social health is scant. In fact, no research to date has investigated the causal influence of nature exposure on social motivation, a construct comprised here of three measures (State Motivation to Foster Social Connections, State Positive Affect, and State Anxiety). The purpose of this study was twofold: 1) to examine the effects of virtual nature exposure on state social motivation, and 2) to investigate adverse childhood experiences as a moderator of those effects. In this online study, adult participants (N = 444) aged 18 to 58 were randomly assigned to one of the three experimental video conditions (wilderness nature exposure, urban non-nature exposure, indoor non-nature exposure). After watching a 15-minute video, participants completed measures related to state social motivation. Results revealed a significant main effect of nature exposure on state social motivation. However, the effects of nature exposure on state social motivation were not significantly moderated by adverse childhood experiences. Results suggest that nature exposure may have a positive impact on the development and maintenance of social connections and should be explored further as a social health intervention aimed at improving overall health.

Document Type

Dissertation - unrestricted


Copyright by the authors.