This PhD research is developing Virtual Reality (VR) nature environments, specifically aquatic settings such as beaches and coasts (collectively termed “bluespaces”), and testing their ability to improve psychological wellbeing.
There is increasing evidence that contact with natural environments like coasts can be good for peoples’ mental health, but getting outdoors into nature can be difficult for some people, such as those with mobility problems. This project aims to determine whether exposure to highly realistic virtual forms of nature can work as a kind of surrogate in these instances.
The first year of the PhD involves the development and validation of a range of 360-degree nature videos for viewing in a Virtual Reality (VR) headset. This groundwork ensures the production of optimal virtual content; specifically, the generation of experiences that 1) are interesting/engaging, and 2) do not induce the adverse effects often encountered within existing VR programmes (e.g. nausea or eyestrain).
The next phase of research uses a lab-based experiment to assess effects of the validated 360-degree VR videos on a range of psychological wellbeing outcomes.