Psychology of 360° videos

Technology in the field of graphics has made great strides in recent years. I would like to introduce you to a tool that we are hearing more and more about today: 360° videos. What is this all about? A 360° video, often also called “immersive video” or “spherical video”, is a video that has been filmed using special cameras in such a way that it records simultaneously in all directions and thus has the entire surroundings at 360 degrees.

In other words, this tool allows the viewer to have an interactive experience: viewers can choose which direction to look in, thus personalizing the experience. One can explore the video through the PC mouse, with a mobile device (tablet or smartphone), or directly with a VR visor described in the previous lines. In general, however, it must be said that to see 360° content in the most immersive way possible, it is necessary to use a VR helmet, leading people to use the term “virtual reality” as a synonym for 360° video. This is probably confusing as VR is too often identified as anything that can be viewed through a visor. This technology aims to make the virtual experience as similar as possible to the real one, or in other words to make the mediation process invisible to human perception (unmediated experience). This means that the user enjoys virtual reality through the involvement of all the senses, having the possibility to move the head not only left and right or up and down as in 360° videos (2 degrees of freedom), but also to use other parts of the body to interact with the virtual environment (we are talking about technology with 6 degrees of freedom). One could say that VR contains within its broad definition 360° videos, but it is good to remember that they are two distinct technologies. So, whoever watches a 360° video using a suitable virtual reality visor will have the feeling of being in another place, being able to look freely at the scenery around him in all directions, perceiving the depth (and therefore the distance) of the various objects, and listening to environmental sounds coming from all directions just like in the real experience. In this respect, reference is made to the concept of ‘presence’ directly linked to the awareness of the user. To explain it in other words, 360° videos within virtual reality give the possibility to explore the environment and interact with it; therefore, the person feels emotionally involved, present in that environment, and consequently more aware of the environment around him. Several studies have been carried out to verify the effectiveness of 360° videos; regarding the degree of emotional involvement, it seems that 360° videos are 27% deeper than 2D videos. Furthermore, 360 content beat 2D content on views, shares, and subscriptions and generated 41% more shares. So, this technology elicits a greater emotional impact, comparable to that of the real experience. In this regard, I would like to refer to the period we are living in today. 

If you think about the great potential that 360° videos have, it could be included as a fundamental tool to limit the spread of Covid-19. The biggest advantage is to be able to continue to carry out certain activities, such as events, conferences, training courses, and much more while maintaining the social distancing necessary to avoid contagion. In addition to this, 360° videos allow public and private structures to continue their activities on the one hand, such as 3D exhibitions in museums, and on the other hand to innovate their means of communication, such as the possibility of advertising their company, their territory with 3D recordings, or creating concerts or 360° video clips that can be enjoyed through virtual reality viewers. Our habits have changed, just think of the increased quality of time we are forced to live at home. 360° videos can help us here too: video games, for example, have evolved a great deal, not only in terms of graphics but also in terms of interaction with it. Moreover, they can be a support for personal growth training guided by a psychologist. In this case, it is possible to carry out distance learning with a mental health professional, which with the help of technology maintains or increases their effectiveness. Examples of this type can be working with athletes to improve their ability to manage emotions, motor skills, recovery from injury, or work with managers of companies able to strengthen some of the soft skills essential for that role (leadership, communication, and relationships, problem-solving). In recent years, this type of video is also following the steps of technological evolution. In this sense, 360° videos start to be recorded also in stereoscopic 3D, i.e. allowing the perception of depth. Moreover, they can be accompanied by a particular type of audio, called spatial audio, which allows the viewer to hear the sound sources coming from the correct and coherent direction concerning where he/she is looking in the virtual world.

VRAINERS is committed to promoting growth, innovation, education, and well-being using this type of technology. How to do this? VRAINERS responds by building soft skills training for companies. Specifically, we refer to “the art of public speaking”. This topic is even more topical nowadays since we are forced to carry out most of our activities in front of the PC; on the one hand, this can be facilitation for some people, while for others it is a difficulty. The training emphasizes the centrality of the person: in fact, the starting point is always the construction of an individualized path of personal growth. The basic idea is that individual improvement leads to an optimization of performance and an increase in the quality of life of the person, with a consequent increase in personal well-being. With this in mind, training of this kind could be targeted at sportsmen and women as a means of improving their performance. A channel that VRAINERS is beginning to enter in line with technological innovation and scientific development.


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Francesco Palazzo

Degree in psychological sciences and techniques from the University of L’Aquila. Master’s degree in Psychology of Well-being: empowerment, rehabilitation, and positive technologies, at the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milan. Master’s degree in Sport Psychology. Specialized in the use of Positive Technologies applied to different psychological fields, conducting an experimental study on cognitive enhancement and technical-motor gestures on young competitive tennis players through an integrated training of mental training and virtual reality.



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