Does digital nature enhance social aspirations? An experimental study.

van Houwelingen-Snippe, J., van Rompay, T. J., de Jong, M. D., & Ben Allouch, S. (2020). Does digital nature enhance social aspirations? An experimental study. International journal of environmental research and public health, 17(4), 1454.
Loneliness and social isolation are increasingly recognized as important challenges of our times. Inspired by research hinting at beneficial effects of interacting with nature on social connectedness and opportunities provided by ambient technology to simulate nature in a rich and engaging manner, this study explored to what extent digital nature projections can stimulate social aspirations and related emotions. To this end, participants (N = 96) were asked to watch, individually or in pairs, digital nature projections consisting of animated scenes which were either dense or spacious and depicting either wild or tended nature. Subsequently, they filled out a questionnaire comprising measures for social aspirations, awe and fascination. Results show that spacious scenes elicited significantly higher social aspiration and awe scores, especially when watching alone. Design implications are discussed for making digital nature accessible for people with limited access to real nature.
Social (left panel) versus individual (right panel) viewing condition
From top to bottom: dense-tended nature, spacious tended nature, dense-wild nature, spacious wild nature.