Title of Abstract

The Effect of Natural Exposure on Mental Health and Academic Performance

Submitting Student(s)

Sydney Pauley
Braiyan Fierro
Vincent Via

Session Title

The College Experience / Health and Wellness 2

Faculty Sponsor (for work done with a non-Winthrop mentor)

Matthew Hayes, Ph.D.

College

College of Arts and Sciences

Department

Psychology

Abstract

We examined the impact of natural exposure during a pandemic on mental health and academic performance in college students. Hypothesis 1 was short-term exposure to nature that enhances memory, hypothesis 2 was short-term exposure to nature decreases depression levels, and hypothesis 3 was long-term exposure to nature benefits grades and attendance. Participants were 41 college students, with the majority being women (34) and White (27). Participants first completed a self-report on their academic performance as well as demographic questions. Participants were then randomly assigned to either stay inside or go outside for 2 minutes. To ensure validity, participants were asked to observe and reflect their surroundings. While in their respective condition, participants were asked to memorize a tongue twister. Participants then answered two questions on elements in the tongue twister (memory task). Participants then answered three questions about outdoor exposure (time spent outside, exercise, and whether they spent relatively more/less time inside since the pandemic began). Finally, participants completed the Positive and Negative Affect Scale which asked their positive and negative emotions over the past week. Unfortunately, hypothesis 1 couldn’t be evaluated because 92.7% of the participants could only remember one answer to the tongue twister questions. Hypothesis two was not supported. There was no difference in positive mood, and, contrary to prediction, participants in the outdoor group had a higher negative mood than the indoor groups. Failing to support Hypothesis 3, grades were not related to outdoor exposure.

Start Date

15-4-2022 12:00 PM

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Apr 15th, 12:00 PM

The Effect of Natural Exposure on Mental Health and Academic Performance

We examined the impact of natural exposure during a pandemic on mental health and academic performance in college students. Hypothesis 1 was short-term exposure to nature that enhances memory, hypothesis 2 was short-term exposure to nature decreases depression levels, and hypothesis 3 was long-term exposure to nature benefits grades and attendance. Participants were 41 college students, with the majority being women (34) and White (27). Participants first completed a self-report on their academic performance as well as demographic questions. Participants were then randomly assigned to either stay inside or go outside for 2 minutes. To ensure validity, participants were asked to observe and reflect their surroundings. While in their respective condition, participants were asked to memorize a tongue twister. Participants then answered two questions on elements in the tongue twister (memory task). Participants then answered three questions about outdoor exposure (time spent outside, exercise, and whether they spent relatively more/less time inside since the pandemic began). Finally, participants completed the Positive and Negative Affect Scale which asked their positive and negative emotions over the past week. Unfortunately, hypothesis 1 couldn’t be evaluated because 92.7% of the participants could only remember one answer to the tongue twister questions. Hypothesis two was not supported. There was no difference in positive mood, and, contrary to prediction, participants in the outdoor group had a higher negative mood than the indoor groups. Failing to support Hypothesis 3, grades were not related to outdoor exposure.