Schutte and her team have learned that time spent in virtual reality nature, compared to time spent in virtual reality urban spaces, can lead to better moods. Also, people who experience virtual reality nature believe that they are more refreshed mentally (in other words, that they are more cognitively restored) after spending time there than the people placed in the virtual urban places. The researchers immersed users in 360-degree natural or urban interactive virtual environments and learned that “Virtual reality experience of a natural environment compared to virtual reality experience of an urban environment resulted in higher levels of positive affect [mood] and a greater perception of restorativeness. . . . Virtual reality technology may have the potential to enhance well-being.” Schutte and colleagues’ insights may be particularly useful when virtual reality experiences are being developed to optimize workplace performance, etc.
Nicola Schutte, Navjot Bhullar, Emma Stilinovic, and Katheryn Richardson. 2017. “The Impact of Virtual Environments on Restorativeness and Affect.” Ecopsychology, vol. 9, no. 1, pp. 1-7.