Virtual Nature: A Psychologically Beneficial Experience
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This study sought to determine which, if any, of the benefits conferred by experiences in nature are conferred by an equivalent Virtual Reality (VR) experience. To this end, previous VR users were immersed in a virtual forest environment. Post-immersion, participants were measured on a variety of metrics including stress level, relaxation level, and directed attention abilities – metrics that have been shown to be significantly modulated by exposure to physical nature. Our results indicate that experiences in virtual nature afford much the same psychological benefits of exposure to physical nature, but they did not show the same kinds of attentional benefits. Experiencing nature in VR significantly decreased self-reported anxiety levels.
KeywordsVirtual Reality Nature Directed attention Stress reduction Immersive environments Attentional fatigue
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