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The research project

Loneliness amongst older adults is a growing problem with serious effects on health and wellbeing. Loneliness is nog only the result of a lack of social interactions, but also relates to a felling of disconnectedness from the world at large. Nature interaction can reduce this effect, however, for older adults the possibilities to interact with nature are often limited due to reduced mobility and self-efficacy.

Research aims

Within this project, we aimed to bring nature inside for people who are not able to go outside themselves. For this, we use VR (virtual reality) and related technologies. Our research goals are the following: 1) to offer an online platform where older adults can meet each other, 2) to stimulate feelings of connectedness by exposure to evidence-based nature content, and 3) to facilitate real nature interactions for older adults.


The growing roots project is a collaboration between researchers from the University of Twente, Amsterdam University of Applied sciences, Tex Town Games (serious game developers) and two care organizations. The project is a Create Health project funded by ZonMW. ZonMW Create Health

Within the project we identified different nature conditions related to feelings of social connectedness. We hypothesed that both type of nature and spaciousness would be relevant factors in relation to social aspirations.

Throughout our research project we manipulated the spaciousness of nature scenes; both dense and spacious scenes were developed.

Results show that spacious scenes, rather than dense scenes, elicited significantly higher social aspirations. Full article

Throughout our research project we manipulated type of nature, tended and wild nature scenes were developed.

Findings show that tended nature scenes elicited more social aspirations than wild nature scenes do. Full article

The future for Growing Roots