Stress and cognitive fatigue have become a pervasive problem, especially in Western society. Stress and cognitive fatigue can have deleterious effects not only on performance, but also on one's physical and mental health. This dissertation presents a study in which the aim is to investigate the effects of virtual nature on stress reduction and cognitive restoration. Specifically, this study assessed the effects of Immersion (Non-immersive, Semi-immersive, Fully-immersive) and Exploration (Passive vs Active) on stress reduction and cognitive restoration. Additionally, restoration from the most effective virtual nature environment was compared to that of taking an active coloring break. Eighty-three university students with normal color vision, depth perception and good visual acuity participated in this study. The overall findings of the study suggest that virtual nature is able to reduce stress and anxiety, generally the more immersive and interactive the better. Moreover, though both the those in the passive VR nature condition and those in the coloring condition reported a reduction in stress, only those in the passive VR nature condition exhibited the physiological changes indicative of stress reduction.
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Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
College of Sciences
Psychology; Human Factors and Cognitive Psychology
Length of Campus-only Access
Doctoral Dissertation (Campus-only Access)
Michaelis, Jessica, "If a Virtual Tree Falls in a Simulated Forest, is the Sound Restorative? An Examination of the Role of Level of Immersion in the Restorative Capacity of Virtual Nature Environments" (2019). Electronic Theses and Dissertations, 2004-2019. 6539.