Seeing Deserts, Implications (02-24-22)

Yin, Bratman, Browning, Spengler, and Olvera-Alvarez evaluated how seeing desert scenes through windows influences stress levels.  They report that they studied “the effect of a virtual reality (VR) exposure to a desert vs. green environment among . . . residents of El Paso, Texas. The procedure consisted of an acute stressor followed by random assignment to a 10 min VR experience (desert, green space, or office [control condition]). . . . exposure to a desert environment in VR promoted stress recovery just as much as a green environment. . . . participants reported a preference for a picture of green landscape over a picture of a desert landscape. . . .   As our participants . . . had a degree of familiarity with the predominantly brown landscape of the Chihuahuan desert to which they were exposed. . . . immersion in the desert environment . . . could have afforded this population a more rapid assessment of safety, thereby counteracting the effects of the acute stressor and aiding in recovery."  These data were collected via virtual reality and not direct exposure to the desert, which may have influenced the findings.

Jie Yin, Gregory Bratman, Matthew Browning, John Spengler, and Hector Olvera-Alvarez.  “Stress Recovery from Virtual Exposure to a Brown (Desert) Environment Versus a Green Environment.”  Journal of Environmental Psychology, in press, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvp.2022.101775