Effects of exposure to immersive videos and photo slideshows of forest and urban environments

Sci Rep. 2021 Feb 17;11(1):3994. doi: 10.1038/s41598-021-83277-y.


A large number of studies have demonstrated the benefits of natural environments on people's health and well-being. For people who have limited access to nature (e.g., elderly in nursing homes, hospital patients, or jail inmates), virtual representations may provide an alternative to benefit from the illusion of a natural environment. For this purpose and in most previous studies, conventional photos of nature have been used. Immersive virtual reality (VR) environments, however, can induce a higher sense of presence compared to conventional photos. Whether this higher sense of presence leads to increased positive impacts of virtual nature exposure is the main research question of this study. Therefore, we compared exposure to a forest and an urban virtual environment in terms of their respective impact on mood, stress, physiological reactions, and cognition. The environments were presented via a head-mounted display as (1) conventional photo slideshows or (2) 360[Formula: see text] videos. The results show that the forest environment had a positive effect on cognition and the urban environment disturbed mood regardless of the mode of presentation. In addition, photos of either urban or forest environment were both more effective in reducing physiological arousal compared to immersive 360[Formula: see text] videos.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't