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Article

Restore or Get Restored: The Effect of Control on Stress Reduction and Restoration in Virtual Nature Settings

Department of Social, Environmental, and Economic Psychology, Institute of Psychology, University of Koblenz-Landau, 76829 Landau, Germany
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Takahide Kagawa
Sustainability 2021, 13(4), 1995; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13041995
Received: 16 January 2021 / Revised: 5 February 2021 / Accepted: 5 February 2021 / Published: 12 February 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Psychological Benefits of Walking or Staying in Forest Areas)
Virtual nature experiences can improve physiological and psychological well-being. Although there is ample research on the positive effects of nature, both in virtual and physical settings, we know little about potential moderators of restoration effects in virtual reality settings. According to theories of needs and control beliefs, it is plausible to assume that control over one’s actions affects how people respond to nature experiences. In this virtual reality (VR) experiment, 64 participants either actively navigated through a VR landscape or they were navigated by the experimenter. We measured their perceived stress, mood, and vitality before and after the VR experience as well as the subjective restoration outcome and the perceived restorativeness of the landscape afterwards. Results revealed that participants’ positive affective states increased after the VR experience, regardless of control. There was a main effect such that participants reported lower stress after the VR experience; however, this was qualified by an interaction showing that this result was only the case in the no control condition. These results unexpectedly suggest that active VR experiences may be more stressful than passive ones, opening pathways for future research on how handling of and navigating in VR can attenuate the effects of virtual nature. View Full-Text
Keywords: virtual reality; restoration; stress; nature experience; control; mood; affect virtual reality; restoration; stress; nature experience; control; mood; affect
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MDPI and ACS Style

Reese, G.; Kohler, E.; Menzel, C. Restore or Get Restored: The Effect of Control on Stress Reduction and Restoration in Virtual Nature Settings. Sustainability 2021, 13, 1995. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13041995

AMA Style

Reese G, Kohler E, Menzel C. Restore or Get Restored: The Effect of Control on Stress Reduction and Restoration in Virtual Nature Settings. Sustainability. 2021; 13(4):1995. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13041995

Chicago/Turabian Style

Reese, Gerhard, Elias Kohler, and Claudia Menzel. 2021. "Restore or Get Restored: The Effect of Control on Stress Reduction and Restoration in Virtual Nature Settings" Sustainability 13, no. 4: 1995. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13041995

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