Restorative Effects of Biophilic Indoor Environment: A Between-subjects Experiment in Virtual Reality

Published: 22 November 2019| Version 2 | DOI: 10.17632/zsh5hkdjhh.2
Jing Yuan


In this study, we hypothesize that exposure to biophilic indoor environments help people recover from stress and anxiety and those effects differ among different types of biophilic elements. To test this hypothesize, we conducted a between-subjects experiment using virtual reality, recruited 100 health adult participants via the Harvard Decision Science Lab recruitment system (SONA, n=3619) from October to December in 2018. Participants were randomly assigned to experience one of four virtual offices (i.e. one non- biophilic base office and three similar offices enhanced with different biophilic design elements) after stressor tasks. Their physiological indicators of stress reaction, including heart rate variability, heart rate, skin conductance level and blood pressure, were measured by bio-monitoring sensors. Their anxiety level was measured using State-Trait Anxiety Inventory test (short version). This research was done by researchers from Environment Health Department in Harvard T.H.Chan School of Public Health, and supported by the Campus Sustainability Innovation Fund, administered by Harvard Office for Sustainability.



Public Health, Acute Stress, Nature Study, Build Environment