An investigation into anxiety in virtual reality following a self-compassion induction
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Self-compassion practices may enhance virtual reality (VR) exposure therapy's effectiveness for social anxiety disorder. This study investigated if a self-compassion induction (i.e. compassionate letter writing) influenced self-reported anxiety in VR. 27 third level students were randomly assigned to one of two induction conditions (compassion or control) and verbalised their VR experiences. As hypothesised the VR experience increased state anxiety. However the compassion induction did not influence state anxiety. Thematic analysis of qualitative data revealed that participants had strong emotional responses to the main VR avatar and that this was related to mental states that were attributed to it. These results contribute to research suggesting that certain VR environments can be effective as social exposures for VR exposure therapy.
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