DOI: 10.1177/02762374231221920 ISSN: 0276-2374

Can Virtual Art Touch Your Heart?—The Impact of Virtual Reality Art on Affect Considering Individual Characteristics and Aesthetic Experiences

Karina Aylin Gotthardt, Katrin Rakoczy, Miles Tallon, Matthias Seitz, Ulrich Frick
  • Literature and Literary Theory
  • Music
  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts

Since the dawn of digital art, discourse regarding its potential persists. This research investigates how a virtual reality (VR) art gallery impacts positive and negative affect, examining the influences of aesthetic experiences and individual characteristics. It explores the connection between measures of aesthetic experiences (self-assessed, heart rate, and heart rate variability) and how gender influences this relationship. Digital art's beneficial effect is indicated by decreased negative affect after visiting the VR gallery, potentially influencing mental wellbeing. Individual characteristics influence this impact on affect after the VR experience, especially openness to experience and affect before the visit, mediated by aesthetic experience, and expertise mediated by heart rate. The findings highlight the potential impact of gender on subjective interpretations of physiological responses in the VR environment. Specifically, women tend to attribute heightened heart rate, a sign of arousal, while men associate increased heart rate variability, a sign of relaxation, to positive experiences in the VR.