Grand Award

1st Place

Investigating Biophilia: Do Plant or Water Images Reduce Stress?

Behavioral and Social Sciences
Sophie Roth Gordon

Derek Roth Gordon

For my science fair project, I wanted to see if I could help people reduce their stress levels in these very stressful times. I investigated two things about relaxation after being stressed. Biophilia is the love of nature and the positive connection people have with nature. Studies have shown that being in nature and seeing pictures of nature reduce stress. Many of these studies have been done with plants. The first thing I wanted to check was whether the kind of nature mattered. I personally love taking pictures of beaches and the ocean, and I felt like those images might be just as relaxing as plants. So I wanted to see if images of water and the ocean would be at least as relaxing as images of plants. The second thing I wanted to check was whether Virtual Reality would reduce stress more than images on a screen. I conducted an experiment with 22 people to see if images on a screen (with and without focus questions) and VR helped reduce people's stress. Biometric data such as blood pressure and heart rate were mixed at showing this result. However, the self-reported survey data confirmed that these nature images helped reduce stress. Watching nature images on Virtual Reality had a mixed impact on participants, partly because it was a new experience for many participants. Overall, I was able to show that my images from nature, both plants and water, could help reduce people's stress levels.

Project presentation

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Lab journal excerpts

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