Date of Award

January 2023

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Richard F. Ferraro


The psychological benefits that come from visually processing natural imagery have been widely studied. The components of natural imagery that provoke positive responses are not fully understood. This study uses a mixed design approach to identify if the acute exposure to statistical fractal imagery, of both a high-range or mid-range complexity, affects cognitive workload, physiological arousal, and gaze patterns in the recognition and identification of emotions through facial expressions. Participants were undergraduate students fulfilling a partial course requirement (N = 87). Eye-tracking metrics were used to compare exposure to fractal complexities. Participants were randomly assigned to either be exposed to a fractal of high-range complexity, mid-range complexity, or low-range complexity and a gray screen control. The fractal stimuli and emotion recognition tests were presented using Tobii Studio and Millisecond software shown on a computer monitor. The hypotheses surround the idea that the specific visual processing and physiological reactions elicited by fractals have measurable impacts on subsequent task performance.