Not just a game: the effect of active versus passive virtual reality experiences on anxiety and sadness

Sal`it Shchory, Keren Nitzan, Gal Harpaz, Ravid Doron

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The use of virtual reality (VR) technology is becoming more common and can be harnessed as a tool to improve various emotional and psychological aspects. The present research explored whether different kinds of VR experience (i.e., active versus passive) would differently affect people’s mood, anxiety and sadness. Undergraduate students (n = 133) were randomly assigned to three study conditions: active game VR experience, passive VR experience and control 2D passive viewing and filled out a battery of questionnaires before and after manipulation. The results show that following both VR exposures (but not following the control condition), participants’ moods improved, and the degree of anxiety was reduced. The degree of sadness was reduced only following the active game VR experience. Regarding self-efficacy, it was higher in the passive VR experience but lower following the active game VR experience (and not affected by the control condition). In conclusion, the results indicate that short VR experiences could provide a suitable alternative for the lack of accessible treatments to improve mood and to alleviate levels of anxiety and sadness, although further research is needed to tailor and refine the exact VR experience that would best improve each specific psychological aspect.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1
Pages (from-to)20
Number of pages1
JournalVirtual Reality
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024, The Author(s).


  • Active VR experience
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Passive VR experience
  • Self-efficacy
  • Virtual reality


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