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.


This study describes and investigates the immersion principle in multimedia learning. A sample of 102 middle school students took a virtual field trip to Greenland via a head mounted display (HMD) or a 2D video as an introductory lesson within a 6-lesson inquiry-based climate change intervention. The HMD group scored significantly higher than the video group on presence (d = 1.43), enjoyment (d = 1.10), interest (d = .57), and retention in an immediate (d = .61) and delayed posttest (d = .70). A structural equation model indicated that enjoyment mediated the pathway from instructional media to immediate posttest, and interest mediated the pathway from instructional media to delayed posttest score, indicating that these factors may play different roles in the learning process with immersive media. This work contributes to the cognitive affective model of immersive learning, and suggests that immersive lessons can have positive longitudinal effects for learning.

Full citation:

Makransky, G., Mayer, R.E. Benefits of Taking a Virtual Field Trip in Immersive Virtual Reality: Evidence for the Immersion Principle in Multimedia Learning. Educ Psychol Rev (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10648-022-09675-4

Virtual reality reduces COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy in the wild: A randomized trial

Clara Vandeweerdt, Tiffany Luong, Michael Atchapero, Aske Mottelson, Christian Holz, Guido Makransky, Robert Böhm

March 17, 2022
Scientific Reports

Vaccine hesitancy poses one of the largest threats to global health. Informing people about the collective benefit of vaccination has great potential in increasing vaccination intentions. This research investigates the potential for engaging experiences in immersive virtual reality (VR) to strengthen participants’ understanding of community immunity, and therefore, their intention to get vaccinated. In a pre-registered lab-in-the-field intervention study, participants were recruited in a public park (tested: n = 232, analyzed: n = 222). They were randomly assigned to experience the collective benefit of community immunity in a gamified immersive virtual reality environment (2/3 of sample), or to receive the same information via text and images (1/3 of sample). Before and after the intervention, participants indicated their intention to take up a hypothetical vaccine for a new COVID-19 strain (0–100 scale) and belief in vaccination as a collective responsibility (1–7 scale). The study employs a crossover design (participants later received a second treatment), but the primary outcome is the effect of the first treatment on vaccination intention. After the VR treatment, for participants with less-than-maximal vaccination intention, intention increases by 9.3 points (95% CI: 7.0 to 11.5, p < 0.001). The text-and- image treatment raises vaccination intention by 3.3 points (difference in effects: 5.8, 95% CI: 2.0 to 9.5, p = 0.003). The VR treatment also increases collective responsibility by 0.82 points (95% CI: 0.37 to 1.27, p < 0.001). The results suggest that VR interventions are an effective tool for boosting vaccination intention, and that they can be applied “in the wild”—providing a complementary method for vaccine advocacy.

Full citation:

Vanderveert, C., Luong, T., Atchapero, M., Mottelson, A., Holz, C., Makransky, G., & Böhm, R. (2022). Virtual reality reduces COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy in the wild: A randomized trial. Scientific Reports.


Many industries struggle with training dynamic risk assessment, and how to bridge the gap between safety training and behavior in real life scenarios. In this article, we focus on dynamic risk assessment during a mooring operation and investigate the potential value of using immersive virtual reality (VR) simulations compared to standard training procedures in an international maritime training organization. In a pilot study, we compared two ways of implementing a VR simulation (stand-alone or with post-simulation reflection) to a manual and a personal trainer condition in a between-subjects design with 86 students in a maritime school. Based on the results we compared the stand-alone VR simulation to the personal trainer condition in a between-subjects design in a non-Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic (WEIRD) sample of 28 seafarers from the Kiribati Islands at an international maritime training organization. The VR simulation group reported significantly higher perceived enjoyment (d = 1.28), intrinsic motivation (d = 0.96), perceived learning (d = 0.90), and behavioral change (d = 0.88), and significantly lower extraneous cognitive load (d = 0.82) compared to the personal trainer group, but the differences in self-efficacy, and safety attitudes were not significant. The results support the value of using VR to train procedures that are difficult to train in the real world and suggest that VR technologies can be useful for providing just in time training anywhere, anytime, in a global market where employees are increasingly cross-cultural and dislocated.

Full citation:

Makransky, G. & Klingenberg, S. (2022). Virtual Reality Enhances Safety Training in the Maritime Industry: An Organizational Training Experiment with a non-WEIRD sample. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning. 10.1111/jcal.12670.

A study of how immersion and interactivity drive VR learning

Gustav B. Petersen, Giorgos Petkakis and Guido Makransky

January 4, 2022
Computers & Education

Even though learning refers to both a process and a product, the former tends to be overlooked in educational virtual reality (VR) research. This study examines the process of learning with VR technology using the Cognitive Affective Model of Immersive Learning (CAMIL) as its framework. The CAMIL theorizes that two technological features of VR, interactivity and immersion, influence a number of cognitive and affective variables that may facilitate or hinder learning. In addition, VR studies often involve media comparisons that make it difficult to disentangle the relative effects of technological features on learning. Therefore, this study also aims to provide insights concerning the unique and combined effects of interactivity and immersion on the cognitive and affective variables specified by CAMIL. We employed a 2 × 2 between-subjects design (N = 153) and manipulated the degree of interactivity and immersion during a virtual lesson on the topic of viral diseases. Analyses of variance (ANOVAs) were used to examine the effects of interactivity and immersion on our variables of interest, and structural equation modeling (SEM) was used to assess the process of learning as predicted by the CAMIL. The results indicated that the process of learning involves situational interest and embodied learning. Main effects of interactivity and/or immersion on cognitive load, situational interest, and physical presence are also reported in addition to interaction effects between immersion and interactivity on agency and embodied learning. The findings provide evidence for the CAMIL and suggest important additions to the model. These findings can be used to provide a better understanding of the process of learning in immersive VR and guide future immersive learning research.

Full citation:

Petersen, G., Petkakis, G., & Makransky, G. (2022). A study of how immersion and interactivity drive VR learning. Computers & Education, 179, 104429. doi: 10.1016/j.compedu.2021.104429

A self-administered virtual reality intervention increases COVID-19 vaccination intention

Aske Mottelson, Clara Vandeweerdt, Michael Atchapero, Tiffany Luong, Christian Holz, Robert Böhm, Guido Makransky

October 8, 2021

Effective interventions for increasing people’s intention to get vaccinated are crucial for global health, especially considering COVID-19. We devised a novel intervention using virtual reality (VR) consisting of a consultation with a general practitioner for communicating the benefits of COVID-19 vaccination and, in turn, increasing the intention to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

We conducted a preregistered online experiment with a 2×2 between-participant design. People with eligible VR headsets were invited to install our experimental application and complete the ten minute virtual consultation study at their own discretion. Participants were randomly assigned across two age conditions (young or old self-body) and two communication conditions (with provision of personal benefit of vaccination only, or collective and personal benefit). The primary outcome was vaccination intention (score range 1–100) measured three times: immediately before and after the study, as well as one week later.

Five-hundred-and-seven adults not vaccinated against COVID-19 were recruited. Among the 282 participants with imperfect vaccination intentions (<100), the VR intervention increased pre-to-post vaccination intentions across intervention conditions (mean difference 8.6, 95% CI 6.1 to 11.1,p<0.0001). The pre-to-post difference significantly correlated with the vaccination intention one week later, ρ=0.20,p<0.0001.

The VR intervention was effective in increasing COVID-19 vaccination intentions both when only personal benefits and personal and collective benefits of vaccination were communicated, with significant retention one week after the intervention. Utilizing recent evidence from health psychology and embodiment research to develop immersive environments with customized and salient communication efforts could therefore be an effective tool to complement public health campaigns.

Full citation:

Mottelson, A., Vandeweerdt, C., Atchapero, M., Luong, T., Holz, C., Böhm, R., & Makransky, G. (2021). A self-administered virtual reality intervention increases COVID-19 vaccination intention. Vaccine, 39(46), 6746-6753. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2021.10.004

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Our team

Guido Makransky

Founder, Associate Professor

Adéla Plechatá

Post Doc, Lab Manager

Gustav Bøg Petersen

PhD Fellow

Michael Atchapero

VR Developer

Oleg Eni

VR Developer

Andreas Elleby Jespersen

Research Assistant

Zuzanna Bald

Student Assistant

Sara Klingenberg

Student Assistant

Alice Kwakye

Student Assistant

Valdemar Stenberdt

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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