Using Virtual Reality to Bring Restorative Environments to Employees: An Online Pilot Study


Psychological Science

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Employees face many demands throughout the workday. Participating in activities can help employees recover from the pressures of work, and physical activity and time spent in nature are among the most beneficial. Simulations of nature offer some of the benefits of actual contact with nature and can address some of the barriers to exercising outdoors that some employees may face. In this pilot study, we examine the influence of physical activity and virtual or actual nature contact on affect, boredom, and satisfaction when experienced during a break from a demanding work task. Twenty-five employed adults participated in an online study in which they completed a problem-solving task, completed a twenty-minute break, and then completed another session of the problem-solving task. During the break, participants were randomized to either a control condition, a physical activity and low-fidelity virtual nature contact condition, a physical activity and high-fidelity virtual nature contact condition, or a physical activity and actual nature contact condition. An examination of the means of affect, boredom, and satisfaction before, during, and after the break revealed that those in high-fidelity virtual nature and actual nature contact conditions seemed to report more positive well-being during the break. The results highlight that to help employees recover from work demands, it could be important to take breaks, be physically active, and have contact with nature, which should be simulated in high fidelity if actual nature contact cannot be achieved.

Journal Title

International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health

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Digital Object Identifier (DOI)