A randomized trial testing the effectiveness of virtual reality as a tool for pro-environmental dietary change

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This study investigates the impact of an efficacy-focused virtual reality (VR) intervention designed according to instructional design principles on eating behavior. In the preregistered intervention study, psychology students were randomly assigned to nine seminar blocks. Employing parallel design, they were allocated to either a VR intervention to experience the environmental impact of food behavior (1) and alter the future by revising food choices (2) or to a passive control condition. The data from 123 participants (78% female, mean age 25.03, SD = 6.4) were analyzed to investigate the effect of the VR intervention on dietary footprint measured from 1 week before to 1 week after the intervention. The VR intervention decreased individual dietary footprints (d = 0.4) significantly more than the control condition. Similarly, the VR condition increased response efficacy and knowledge to a larger extent compared to the control. For knowledge, the effect persisted for 1 week. The VR intervention had no impact on intentions, self-efficacy, or psychological distance. Additional manipulation of normative feedback enhanced self-efficacy; however, manipulation of geographical framing did not influence psychological distance. This research received no financial support from any funding agency and was registered on 15/09/2021 at Open Science Foundation with the number https://doi.org/10.17605/OSF.IO/2AXF3.
Original languageEnglish
Article number14315
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number14315
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2022

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