Exploring how digital experiences of the natural world can impact health and wellbeing.
Virtual Nature is a research project hoping to answer this question. It is investigating how nature, culture and technology can combine to enhance psychological health.
It will take the first steps in developing an intervention for people who face significant barriers to visiting ‘real’ natural environments, and consider how such a therapy might also foster greater connections with nature.
The 5 year project is part of a PhD at the Wellcome Centre for Cultures and Environments of Health.
Research has shown that spending time in natural environments can boost physical health and mental wellbeing.
For many people however — such as those in long term care, with a physical disability or in densely urban areas — regular contact with nature can be difficult to achieve.
New advances in virtual reality technology provide an opportunity to overcome these barriers, bringing ‘nature’ to people who cannot otherwise access it. This study is examining how people feel about these experiences, how they affect wellbeing, and how they might be used in real-world situations.