The Effect of Virtual Environments on Stress Levels

Student thesis: Master thesis (including HD thesis)

  • Patrick Bang Løyche Lausen
  • Michelle Hagemann
  • Jette Møller Jensen
4. term, Medialogy, Master (Master Programme)
In this project, it was found that several people suffer from or experience symptomsof severe stress. Therefore, the aim was to find a way to reduce stress.

Through the background research, different ways of measuring stress werelooked into, as well as what methods are already used in relation to reducingstress. It was found that nature environments are commonly used as a way toinduce relaxation, while also reducing stress. From this, the following problemstatement was made:

"What elements in a virtual environment are responsible for inducing relaxation?"

Three experiments were conducted, in which two different virtual environments (a simple room and a forest scene) were tested against each other withan implemented Montreal Imaging Stress Task. For the first experiment, no significant difference were found between the simple room and the forest scene. The null-hypothesis;

"A forest scene is not better at decreasing stress in participants when performing a mental stress task."

could therefore not be refuted. As there was a difference between the baselines and the environments, it could however be found that the MIST did in fact stress people. As the background research showed that nature should have an effect in relation to reducing stress, it was therefore decided to improve upon the environments and repeat the experiment.

For the second experiment, no significant difference between the virtual en-vironments were found. Therefore, the null-hypothesis (the same as for the firstexperiment) could not be refuted during this experiment either.

For the third and last experiment, audio was implemented in order to create a better immersion within the scenes. The null-hypothesis could not be refuted with the calculated p-values. However, less variables showed a significant difference between the baselines and the environments, compared to the previous experiments. This might indicate that audio could have an effect in relation to reducing stress.

From these three experiments, in which the null-hypotheses could not be refuted, it is not certain that nature has an effect in relation to reducing stress. However, this might have to do with the immersion of the virtual environments. Additionally, there might be indications towards audio being effective in reducing stress, and therefore further research on this topic are to be encouraged.
SpecialisationComputer Graphics
Publication date28 May 2019
Number of pages61
ID: 304407920