Media Technology MSc

MSc Thesis


Using Digitally Created Virtual Reality Environments as Stress Reduction During Stress Inducing Tasks


Rense Notenboom




In current society, being as productive as possible in life is an important personal and globally accepted goal in order to feel and be considered successful. This need to be productive leads in many cases to chronic stress which comes with a plethora of health problems. Although there are proven ways to reduce stress, these methods break the flow of being productive which can potentially lead to even more stress in the long run if the expectancy of productivity is too high. This study investigates a way to reduce stress while being productive by using digitally created virtual reality environments. The experiment consists of participants completing a 3-minute set of stress inducing arithmetic tasks, in two different virtual reality environments; A forest environment and a classroom environment. During the experiment the participant’s heart rate, heart rate variability and overall performance of the tasks were measured. The study showed no significant changes in both heart rate and heart rate variability, which therefore showed no indication of changes in stress level. However, the mean perceived stress level obtained from a survey from each participant did show a statistically significant difference. In addition, the amount of incorrect answered questions was also statistically significant higher in the classroom environment over the forest environment. Although this study is not conclusive, the suggestion is made for follow up studies to increase the session time to induce longer amounts of stress and use more advanced heart rate measurement hardware in order to find potentially more conclusive results.


Full Reference

Rense Notenboom, "Using Digitally Created Virtual Reality Environments as Stress Reduction During Stress Inducing Tasks", Master's Thesis for the Media Technology programme, Leiden University (The Netherlands), 2018