Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)



Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Ginette Blackhart

Committee Members

Wallace E. Dixon, Stacey Williams, Juia Dodd


It is well established in the research literature that exposure to nature positively affects physical and mental health. However, research regarding the effects of nature exposure on social health is less developed. Prior research found that watching a video of nature improved state social motivation. Building on this research, the current study compared the effects of three methods of virtual nature exposure on state social motivation in a randomized controlled trial. In this 3X3 between-subjects experiment, participants (N = 426) 18 to 73 (MAge = 27.69, SD = 12.19) were randomly assigned to experience 3-minutes of nature exposure (wilderness nature, urban non-nature control, indoor non-nature control) through one of three methods (video, photo, guided imagery) and then completed survey questions related to state social motivation (State Motivation to Foster Social Connections (SMSC), State Positive Affect (SA), State Anxiety (SA)). Three two-way 3 X 3 ANOVAs revealed a statistically significant interaction between type of exposure and method of exposure on PA, F(4, 417) = 4.125, p = .003, partial η2 = .038, and no significant interactions for SMSC or SA. Compared to virtual non-nature controls, results suggest that one aspect of state social motivation, PA, is greater after exposure to a nature photo, but not after exposure to a nature video or nature guided imagery. Nature exposure may have a favorable impact on the creation and maintenance of social ties, according to these findings, and should be investigated further as a social health intervention aimed at enhancing overall health.

Document Type

Dissertation - embargo


Copyright by the authors.