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How children experience virtual reality travel: a psycho-physiological study based on flow theory

Xiaoting Huang (Department of Tourism Management, Shandong University Jinan China)
Chun Liu (School of Tourism Sciences, Beijing International Studies University Beijing China)
Chun LIU (Research Center of Beijing Tourism Development Beijing China)
Zhenda Wei (College of Tourism and Service Management, Nankai University Tianjin, Tianjin, China)
Xi Y. Leung (Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management, University of North Texas Denton, Texas, United States Of America)

Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Technology

ISSN: 1757-9880

Article publication date: 22 October 2021

Issue publication date: 1 December 2021




Drawn from flow theory, this study aims to explore children’s flow experiences in virtual reality (VR) by examining the relationships between VR experience length, arousal and flow experience (time estimation and enjoyment).


A within-subject laboratory experiment was conducted using 9D VR and iMEC 12. A total of 47 children participated in this study. Both survey data and physiological data were collected.


The results revealed that longer VR videos evoked lower arousal, higher respiratory rates and less enjoyment among child participants than shorter videos. This study also verified the mediating effects of respiratory rates measured arousal on time estimations and self-reported arousal in terms of enjoyment.


This study fills a research gap related to children’s flow experiences in VR, as children’s voices remain limited in tourism research. The study findings offer meaningful insights for destination marketers to leverage the growth of parent-child tours and the increasing effects of VR on the tourism industry.

儿童虚拟现实旅游体验探究: 一项基于沉浸理论的心理-生理研究


基于沉浸理论,本研究旨在通过检验虚拟现实(VR)的体验长度、兴奋度, 以及沉浸体验(时间估计和乐趣)之间的关系来探讨儿童的VR沉浸体验。


运用9D虚拟现实模拟器和iMEC12, 本研究进行了一项被试内实验。一共有47位儿童参与本研究。收集了调研数据和生理学实验数据。


研究结果显示与短VR视频相比, 较长的VR视频导致了较低水平的兴奋度, 较高水平的呼吸率,和较少的乐趣。本研究且还证实了呼吸率测量的兴奋度对时间估计的中介作用 和自我报告的兴奋度对乐趣的中介作用。


由于从儿童角度出发的旅游研究有限, 所以本研究填补了儿童VR沉浸体验领域的研究空白。本研究为目的地营销人员提供了有意义的参考, 从而能有效利用亲子旅游和VR对旅游业日益增长的影响。



The authors would like to acknowledge the financial support of the National Natural Science Foundation of China [No. 41871138]; Shandong University [No. 20QNQT019]; Key R&D plan of Shandong Province (major scientific and technological innovation project) [2020cxgc010904]; Research Project for New Faculty of Beijing International Studies University [No. KYQH20A004]; Young Academic Talents Programme of Beijing International Studies University, Beijing, China.


Huang, X., Liu, C., LIU, C., Wei, Z. and Y. Leung, X. (2021), "How children experience virtual reality travel: a psycho-physiological study based on flow theory", Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Technology, Vol. 12 No. 4, pp. 777-790.



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