Bachelor's Thesis

Action or Chill? - Which VR Experience supports recovery and stress resistance best?


André Plantenberg

Processing Period:

02.12.2019 - 02.03.2020


Virtual Reality is a suitable technology that helps us to escape from stressful situations in the real world. Many studies have shown diving into virtual worlds can support positive feelings and well-being of people suffering from stress, pain, or fear. VR technology has the power to block out distressing sensations from the real world (sensory immersion) as well as to distract from negative feelings and cognitions. Thus it is not surprising, that most VR experiences designed to provide relaxation and contemplation base on calming, meditative and natural environments. However, these applications do not exploit the full potential of VR. Modern head-mounted displays such as Oculus Quest or HTC Vive incorporate tracking systems that enable full-body interactions and movements using the entire room as a playspace (room-scale VR). Hence, room-scale VR could be used to provide VR experiences, which are highly activating in both terms physically and cognitive. This might result in a higher feeling of being present in the virtual world, which again might correlate with a higher level of distraction from environmental, situational or emotional stressors. Therefore it is the aim of this thesis to investigate the question, whether active engagement or passive observance leads to higher levels of stress recovery and resistance. To achieve this, a laboratory study has to be conducted considering multiple physiological and psychological measures of stress and affect. This thesis moves at the intersection between emotion psychology, stress research, VR technology, and digital games research (with a special focus on exergames and virtual natural environments).