Virtual reality for climate communication: Lessons from an international climate conference

Last registered on March 06, 2024


Trial Information

General Information

Virtual reality for climate communication: Lessons from an international climate conference
Initial registration date
February 24, 2024

Initial registration date is when the trial was registered.

It corresponds to when the registration was submitted to the Registry to be reviewed for publication.

First published
March 06, 2024, 3:26 PM EST

First published corresponds to when the trial was first made public on the Registry after being reviewed.



Primary Investigator

University of Oxford

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
PI Affiliation

Additional Trial Information

In development
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
Researchers and practitioners alike are increasingly interested in the role of virtual reality (VR) for engaging and educating policy officials and the general public about environmental issues, with the aim of increasing climate literacy and helping support policy action. While climate researchers and psychologists are highlighting the promise of immersive VR experiences as a novel climate communication tool, research into how to best design and implement climate VR is still in its infancy (Markowitz & Bailenson, 2021). Given their roles and their expertise, policy officials and observers at international climate conferences are a particularly relevant group for testing new digital tools for climate communication.

This study seeks to enhance our understanding of how climate-related VR experiences can be best designed and deployed. To do so, we will expose policy officials at a large international climate conference to the demo of a new immersive VR experience which allows users to view and interact with complex climate data. To understand how participants engage with the VR experience and how they react to it, we conduct a short survey and semi-structured interview before and after the demo. In addition, the survey helps us collect data on climate attitudes and beliefs of policy officials and climate conference participants for descriptive comparisons with the general population.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Ettinger, Joshua, Ximeng Fang and Stefania Innocenti. 2024. "Virtual reality for climate communication: Lessons from an international climate conference ." AEA RCT Registry. March 06.
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Experimental Details


Participants will try a demo version of a virtual reality (VR) experience designed to help people view and interact with climate data and global warming scenarios.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
(1) Qualitative responses on immediate reactions to the VR and the perceived potential of VR for climate communication
(2) Beliefs about the perceived impact of climate-related VR (quantitative)
(3) Mental imagery associated with climate change (qualitative and quantitative)
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
The first part consists of a number of baseline survey questions that we will ask participants to complete before they try the VR headset. These include basic socio-demographic information as well as participants' roles at the conference, as well as attitudes and beliefs regarding climate change.

In the second part includes the VR demo intervention as well outcome variables (2) and (3), as described above. Participants will be randomly assigned to either receive the VR intervention first (treatment) or to receive the VR intervention only after the outcome variable are elicited.

In the third and final part, we will ask participants to reflect and elaborate on their immediate reactions to the VR experience, i.e., outcome variables (3). Questions in this section will be open-ended, allowing participants to freely express their thoughts on the utility of VR-based technology for climate communication and its potential adoption among the general public.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Randomization through survey software
Randomization Unit
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
80 individuals
Sample size: planned number of observations
80 individuals
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
about 40 individuals per experimental condition
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
University of Oxford Central University Research Ethics Committee
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
SOGE C1A 24 10


Post Trial Information

Study Withdrawal

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Is the intervention completed?
Data Collection Complete
Data Publication

Data Publication

Is public data available?

Program Files

Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials

Relevant Paper(s)

Reports & Other Materials