Embodying nature's experiences: Taking the perspective of nature with immersive virtual environments to promote connectedness with nature
Immersive virtual environments (IVEs) produce simulations that mimic unmediated sensory experiences. In three experiments, users perceived increased involvement with nature by taking the perspective of animals via IVEs. Embodying sensory-rich experiences of a cow in IVEs led to greater Inclusion of Nature in Self (INS; interconnection between self and nature), than watching the experience on video (Experiment 1). INS was mediated by body transfer. People embodying coral in an acidifying reef using IVEs felt more spatial presence, body transfer, and INS than those who watched on video (Experiment 2). Heightened INS led to greater perceived imminence of the environmental risk and involvement with nature, while persisting for one week. Experiment 3 replicated the parallel mediation model with a larger sample.