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Journal Article

Underwater virtual reality for marine education and ocean literacy: technological and psychological potentials


Given the crucial role the ocean plays in human and planetary health, ocean literacy (OL)—understanding the ocean’s influence on us and our influence on the ocean—has been gaining momentum as a significant component and determinant of sustainable human-ocean interactions. Underwater virtual reality (UVR) enables participants to take a virtual dive while being simultaneously immersed in water. Through this unique double immersion, UVR is offering new avenues of psychological access and pedagogical opportunities toward the ocean; this study is thus the first to explore UVR’s potential for OL and marine environmental education. Following two UVR activities in a pool, we conducted semi-structured interviews and survey questionnaires with 19 marine scientists and education experts. Our findings indicate UVR has important technological and psychological potentials, including (1) high levels of presence, (2) infrequency of motion sickness, and (3) the ability to trigger powerful emotions and affective states such as awe, empathy, and flow. In this way, UVR can create a realistic experience of the ocean that improves OL and reduces psychological distance to marine environmental issues. We also advance a new seven-dimensional OL framework, following our findings that UVR has unique potentials for improving ‘emoceans’, attitude, awareness, and ocean connectedness.

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Géraldine Fauville
Anaïs Voşki
Marijn Mado
Jeremy N. Bailenson
Annika Lantz-Andersson
Journal Name
Environmental Education Research
Publication Date
March 14, 2024
Taylor & Francis