A cooperation in research between Psychologists and Geographers

A study was recently published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology entitled
“Different types of virtual natural environments enhance subjective vitality through restorativeness”.
by an interdisciplinary team consisting of Annalisa Theodorou, Luciano Romano, Gregory N. Bratman, Giuseppe A. Carbone, Roberta Rodelli, Gianluca Casagrande and Angelo Panno. 
The study investigated the role of exposure to nature through virtual reality in enhancing people’s vitality through increased restorativeness engendering from natural environments. The results showed that exposure to different types of virtual natural environments (e.g. a park, a lake and an Arctic environment) is more effective than exposure to a virtual urban environment in increasing such restorativeness, which in turn contributes to increasing subjects’ vitality. The study presents innovative aspects, such as having investigated the effect of multiple natural environments and, above all, having included the Arctic environment, whose benefits on mental health and well-being are still little explored. Furthermore, the study paves the way for significant applications, e.g. supporting the well-being of people with limited access to green areas or natural sceneries.
The recent publication, along with other work still under development, also sees a collaboration within UER between the two laboratories of Experimental and Applied Psychology and GREAL. This cooperation is deemed strategic for the synergy between Psychologists and Geographers in the study of how human beings perceive, experience and derive potential benefits from a sense of presence, albeit virtual, in certain types of environments.
The interlaboratory partnership involves professors, researchers and Ph.D. students. In the specific case of the published work, the activity was directed by the psychological area represented by Prof. Angelo Panno and Dr. Luciano Romano, the latter supported by the Programma Operativo (PON) Ricerca e Innovazione 2014-2020, azione IV.6 “Contratti di Ricerca su Tematiche Green”. GREAL, in the persons of Prof. Gianluca Casagrande and Dr. Roberta Rodelli, provided part of the datasets on which the experimentation was based and contributed to the collection of materials, as well as to the tailoring of the experimental stimuli.

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