Murdoch, M. & Davies, J. (2017). Spiritual and affective responses to a physical church and corresponding virtual model. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking. 20(11); 702—708.
Download: [ http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/cyber.2017.0249 ]
Architectural and psychological theories posit that built environments have the potential to elicit complex psychological responses. However, few researchers have seriously explored this potential. Given the increasing importance and fidelity of virtual worlds, such research should explore whether virtual models of built environments are also capable of eliciting complex psychological responses. The goal of this study was to test these hypotheses, using a church, a corresponding virtual model, and an inclusive measure of state spirituality (‘‘spiritual feelings’’). Participants (n = 33) explored a physical church and corresponding virtual model, completing a measure of spiritual feelings after exploring the outside and inside of each version of the church. Using spiritual feelings after exploring the outside of the church as a baseline measure, change in state spirituality was assessed by taking the difference between spiritual feelings after exploring the inside and outside of the church (inside-outside) for both models. Although this change was greater in response to the physical church, there was no significant difference between the two models in eliciting such change in spiritual feelings. Despite the limitations of this exploratory study, these findings indicate that both built environments and corresponding virtual models are capable of evoking complex psychological responses.