The purpose of this thesis is to explore how surface engagement through touch affects perception of stimuli and mood. Researchers have found psychological, physiological and cognitive benefits associated with exposure to and interaction with nature. Stress Reduction Theory with Psychoevolutionary framework, and Attention Restoration Theory are often used to explain and interpret results. However, studies that focus on individuals with negative perspectives of nature find a positive affective response to nature is not universal. Rather, individuals respond differently based on their own experience with nature. Childhood exposure and culture have been found to influence attitudes towards nature. Theories of embodied cognition emphasize the importance of previously learned associations and embodied states have been found to influence judgment, experience of emotions, and physiological states. To assess whether an individual's attitude towards nature influences the embodiment of a positive or negative state, participants were randomly assigned to come into physical contact with one of four surfaces with their feet: grass, fake grass, dirt and cement. Individuals affective, cognitive and physical relationship with nature was measured with the Nature Relatedness Scale. Change in perception of neutral stimuli and mood before and after surface exposure were measured. Results suggested surfaces influenced mood in different ways, however the effects on perception were unclear. A participant's perspective of nature did not seem to influence mood change depending on surface type. Future research is needed to assess whether the shift in mood was based on metaphors of language, priming from surface texture, or a result of complex interaction between bodily sensations and cognition.

Thesis Completion




Thesis Chair/Advisor

Chin, Matthew


Bachelor of Science (B.S.)


College of Sciences



Degree Program




Access Status

Open Access

Length of Campus-only Access

1 year

Release Date


Included in

Psychology Commons