Lose yourself: Spacious nature and the connected self

Thomas J.L. van Rompay*, Sandra Oran, Mirjam Galetzka, Agnes E. van den Berg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
22 Downloads (Pure)


A crucial but thus far overlooked dimension of mental health benefits of nature interaction involves the extent to which the self is experienced as a separate, stand-alone identity cut off from its surroundings or rather as a fluid entity connected to the world at large. Based on research findings that hint at the importance of spaciousness for promoting a selfless (rather than self-centered) mode of psychological functioning, an experimental study was conducted using VR-simulations of natural landscapes varying in the extent of spaciousness and type of nature. Results show that spacious, rather than dense, landscapes promote selflessness and related measures including connectedness and positive affect. Subsequent mediation analyses indicate that effects of spaciousness on selflessness and positive affect are mediated by an embodied process in which perceived body boundaries loosen up. These findings testify to the importance of nature interaction for counteracting self-centeredness and related mental health issues.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102108
JournalJournal of environmental psychology
Early online date16 Aug 2023
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2023


  • Mental health
  • Nature-interaction
  • Self-centeredness
  • Spaciousness
  • Virtual reality
  • UT-Hybrid-D


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