Physiological and self-reported arousal in virtual reality versus face-to-face emotional activation and cognitive restructuring in university students: A crossover experimental study using wearable monitoring.

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Publisher: Elsevier Science Publishers
Document Type: Clinical report
Length: 458 words

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Keywords Cognitive restructuring; Emotional activation; Virtual reality; University students; Wearable monitoring; Cognitive behavioural therapy Highlights * A crossover experiment was conducted on 41 healthy university students. * They used emotional activation and cognitive restructuring techniques in VR and face-to-face (F2F). * Physiological arousal was higher in the VR than the F2F component (p [less than or equal to] .001). * Skin conductance increased from VR tutorial to VR intervention (p [less than or equal to] .001). * No difference between VR and F2F was found on self-reported arousal (p = .18). Abstract Background Arousal may be important for learning to restructure ones' negative cognitions, a core technique in depression treatment. In virtual reality (VR), situations may be experienced more vividly than, e.g., in an imaginative approach, potentially aiding the emotional activation of negative cognitions. However, it is unclear whether such activation and subsequent cognitive restructuring in VR elicits more physiological, e.g. changes in skin conductance (SC), heart rate (HR), and self-reported arousal. Method In a cross-over experiment, 41 healthy students experienced two sets, one in VR, one face-to-face (F2F), of three situations aimed at activating negative cognitions. Order of the sets and mode of delivery were randomised. A wristband wearable monitored SC and HR; self-reported arousal was registered verbally. Results Repeated measures analyses of variance revealed significantly more SC peaks per minute, F (1, 40) = 13.89, p = .001, higher mean SC, F (1,40) = 7.47, p = .001, and higher mean HR, F (1, 40) = 75.84, p Discussion To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study indicating that emotional activation and subsequent cognitive restructuring in VR can lead to significantly more physiological arousal compared to an imaginative approach. These findings need to be replicated before they can be extended to patient populations. Author Affiliation: (a) Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Department of Clinical, Neuro- & Developmental Psychology, Section of Clinical Psychology, Amsterdam, the Netherlands (b) Amsterdam Public Health Research Institute, Faculty of Behavioral and Movement Sciences, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, the Netherlands (c) GET.ON Institute/HelloBetter, Hamburg, Germany (d) Expertise Unit Psychology, Technology & Society, Thomas More University of Applied Sciences, Antwerp, Belgium (e) Mobilab & Care, Thomas More University of Applied Sciences, Geel, Belgium * Corresponding author. Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Faculty of Behavioural and Movement Sciences, Van der Boechorststraat 7, 1081 BT Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Article History: Received 11 December 2020; Revised 16 April 2021; Accepted 26 April 2021 Byline: Felix Bolinski [f.bolinski@vu.nl] (a,b,*), Anne Etzelmüller (a,b,c), Nele A.J. De Witte (d), Cecile van Beurden (a), Glen Debard (e), Bert Bonroy (e), Pim Cuijpers (a,b), Heleen Riper (a,b), Annet Kleiboer (a,b)

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A664259801