Exploring virtual and augmented reality with experimental psychology

About us

We are a research group that investigates immersive technologies, such as virtual and augmented reality in educational settings. We aim to establish results, that can ultimately change how people learn.

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What is going on at the Virtual Learning Lab?

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Our Research Areas

See the projects that we have been working on!

Our lab is dedicated to studying how VR affects learning, specifically we investigate what makes learning in immersive VR effective, what is the role of virtual humans and how can we develop training scenarios. Furthermore, we use this knowledge to investigate the role of VR in promoting sustainable attitudes or other prosocial behavioral changes. Click on the categories below to see the projects described in more detail:

Research Grants

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Read what we have recently published.

Can extended reality in the metaverse revolutionise health communication?

Adéla Plechatá, Guido Makransky and Robert Böhm

September 2, 2022
npj Digital Medicine

In the metaverse, users will actively engage with 3D content using extended reality (XR). Such XR platforms can stimulate a revolution in health communication, moving from information-based to experience-based content. We outline three major application domains and describe how the XR affordances (presence, agency and embodiment) can improve healthy behaviour by targeting the users’ threat and coping appraisal. We discuss how health communication via XR can help to address long-standing health challenges.

Full citation:

Plechatá, A., Makransky, G. & Böhm, R. Can extended reality in the metaverse revolutionise health communication?. npj Digit. Med. 5, 132 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41746-022-00682-x

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

Plechatá, A., Morton, T., Perez-Cueto, F. J. A., & Makransky, G.

August 22, 2022
Nature Scientific Reports

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.

Full citation:

Plechatá, A., Morton, T., Perez-Cueto, F.J.A., & Makransky, G. (2022). A randomized trial testing the effectiveness of virtual reality as a tool for pro-environmental dietary change. Scientific Reports, 12, 14315. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-022-18241-5

The Promise and Pitfalls of Learning in Immersive Virtual Reality

Richard E. Mayer, Guido Makransky, Jocelyn Parong

August 18, 2022
International Journal of Human–Computer Interaction

Can immersive virtual reality (IVR) serve as an effective venue for learning and training? The promise of learning in IVR lies in its affordances for motivating learners to engage in generative processing (i.e., cognitive processing aimed at making sense of the material). The pitfall of learning in IVR is that it can distract learners so they engage in extraneous processing (i.e., cognitive processing that does not support the instructional goal). This paper reviews (1) media comparison research we have conducted on the effectiveness of learning academic content and skills in IVR versus learning with conventional media and (2) value-added research we have conducted concerning which features can improve the instructional effectiveness of learning in IVR. The paper includes implications for practice and for further work in the area. Overall, the paper focuses on the challenges associated with determining how to reduce the distracting aspects of IVR, maintain the motivating aspects of IVR, and guide the learner towards the core instructional material.

Full citation:

Mayer, R. E., Makransky, G., & Parong, J. (2022). The Promise and Pitfalls of Learning in Immersive Virtual Reality. International Journal of Human–Computer Interaction. https://doi.org/10.1080/10447318.2022.2108563

Pipetting in Virtual Reality Can Predict Real-Life Pipetting Performance

Gustav Bøg Petersen, Sara Klingenberg, Guido Makransky

July 21, 2022
Technology, Mind, and Behavior

Can a virtual reality (VR) simulation promote acquisition of scientific skills with real-life practicability? In order to answer this question, we conducted (I) an online study (N = 126) and (II) a field study at a high school (N = 47). Study I focused on the instructional design of VR by comparing the effects of different pedagogical agents on acquiring pipetting skills. We found no significant differences between the conditions, that is, it did not seem to make a difference whether the pedagogical agent was present or not, or if it demonstrated the procedure or not. Study II focused on transfer of skills learned in VR to real-life with the addition of a control group who were taught by a real-life instructor. The results indicated that performance in VR can predict performance on a real-life transfer test. However, comparisons between the two groups showed that the students who received virtual training made more errors, experienced more extraneous cognitive load, and learned less compared to the students who were taught by the real-life instructor. Across both studies, all students experienced an increase in self-efficacy from prior to after the intervention, although the students taught by the real-life instructor experienced the largest increases in Study II. Hence, VR should not replace traditional ways of teaching scientific procedures. Rather, it can be a complement to traditional teaching that can increase accessibility.

Full citation:

Petersen, G. B., Klingenberg, S., & Makransky, G. (2022). Pipetting in Virtual Reality Can Predict Real-Life Pipetting Performance. Technology, Mind, and Behavior, 3(3). https://doi.org/10.1037/tmb0000076

Immersive Virtual Reality in STEM: Is IVR an Effective Learning Medium and Does Adding Self-Explanation after a Lesson Improve Learning Outcomes?

Elme, L., Jørgensen, M. L. M., Dandanell, G., Mottelson, A., Makransky, G.

July 18, 2022
Educational Technology Research and Development

The goal of the current study was to investigate the effects of an immersive virtual reality (IVR) science simulation on learning in a higher educational setting, and to assess whether using self-explanation has benefits for knowledge gain. A sample of 79 undergraduate biology students (40 females, 37 males, 2 non-binary) learned about next-generation sequencing using an IVR simulation that lasted approximately 45 min. Students were randomly assigned to one of two instructional conditions: self-explanation (n = 41) or control (n = 38). The self-explanation group engaged in a 10 min written self-explanation task after the IVR biology lesson, while the control group rested. The results revealed that the IVR simulation led to a significant increase in knowledge from the pre- to post-test (ßPosterior = 3.29). There were no differences between the self-explanation and control groups on knowledge gain, procedural, or conceptual transfer. Finally, the results indicate that the self-explanation group reported significantly higher intrinsic cognitive load (ßPosterior = .35), and extraneous cognitive load (ßPosterior = .37), and significantly lower germane load (ßPosterior =  − .38) than the control group. The results suggest that the IVR lesson was effective for learning, but adding a written self-explanation task did not increase learning after a long IVR lesson.

Full citation:

Elme, L., Jørgensen, M. L. M., Dandanell, G., Mottelson, A., &Makransky, G. (2022). Immersive Virtual Reality in STEM: Is IVR an Effective Learning Medium and Does Adding Self-Explanation after a Lesson Improve Learning Outcomes? Educational Technology Research and Development.

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What is top of our feed?

Our team

Guido Makransky

Founder, Associate Professor

Adéla Plechatá

Post Doc, Lab Manager

Gustav Bøg Petersen

PhD Fellow

Michael Atchapero

VR Developer

Andreas Elleby Jespersen

Research Assistant

Sara Klingenberg

Student Assistant

Alice Kwakye

Student Assistant

Valdemar Stenberdt

Student Assistant

Noelle Bender

Student Assistant

Andrew Dai


Xi-Ning Wang


Open positions

There are currently no open positions, but do reach out if you would like to collaborate!


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