Publication Date

Summer 2020

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Evan Palmer


Awe, Overview Effect, Thesis, Virtual Reality

Subject Areas



Astronauts who return from space missions have reported and demonstrated a significant increase in their feelings of connection to humanity and the planet. This shift towards a more humanistic, global perspective in astronauts was termed the “overview effect” by White (2014). There is a lack of research on the overview effect despite the significant, positive changes in those who have experienced it. This study aims to provide empirical evidence of and a possible induction method for the overview effect. We hypothesized that it might be possible to induce the overview effect using virtual reality (VR). In the current study, 81 SJSU participants were randomly assigned to one of three stimulus conditions: urban, nature, or space. Each participant watched a five-minute video using VR equipment to provide a wide field-of-view experience, and completed self-report measures that indirectly measured the overview effect both before and after VR stimulus exposure. While we found no evidence to support the induction of the overview effect in the present study, we did find evidence for reduced negative affect and increased feelings of awe after watching VR videos, regardless of stimulus condition. We also found evidence for increased identification with the nation after watching the urban VR video. In conclusion, we were not successful in inducing the overview effect in our current sample, however we did find possible positive effects of VR on emotion and identification with people at a national level.