This study examined the effects of virtual contact with nature on positive and negative affect, and investigated the psychological process of perceived restorativeness as a mediator of this relationship. A sample of 220 Australians aged between 18 and 75 years (M = 49.07, SD = 14.34, female = 72%) participated in the study. Participants were randomly allocated to one of the three experimental conditions experienced through video presentations: (1) ‘wild’ nature, (2) ‘urban’ nature, and (3) non-nature control. They then completed measures of perceived restorativeness as well as positive and negative affect. Compared to the non-nature control condition, the experience of wild nature resulted in significantly higher levels of positive affect and lower levels of negative affect. The experience of urban nature resulted in significantly lower levels of negative affect only compared to the non-nature control video. Experience of wild and urban nature resulted in greater perceptions of restorativeness as compared to the non-nature control video. Restorativeness was a significant underlying psychological mediating path through which nature experience exerted its influence on affect. These results have the potential to inform nature-based green care interventions for mental health as well as for urban planning to maximize beneficial effects of natural environments.
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