What is modulated reality

Fear in Virtual Reality: How Does “Presence” Affect Emotional Reaction

Fear in Virtual Reality: How Does “Presence” Affect Emotional Response?


In the work of the first funding period, we were able to confirm that phobic reactions can be triggered by specific visual stimuli or by specific phobic information. Subsequent to this work, the influence of visual stimuli and information on central nervous processing is to be investigated in the proposed funding period (Study 1). In addition to the visual stimuli, we also want to investigate multimodal (tactile) stimuli (Study 2). The second funding period is further motivated by the observation that in addition to external fear-inducing conditions - be it phobic information or perceptual stimuli - the fear response is also modulated by internal states of the person. A stimulus or information can only trigger a phobic reaction if the person establishes a personal relationship with it. The aim is to investigate how the experience of “presence” can be changed and how presence and phobic reactions (subjective, behavioral, peripheral physiological and central nervous) interact. In particular, the importance of the cognitive representation of one's own body for the experience of presence and the phobic reactions should be examined more closely. For this purpose, in studies 3 to 5, the hand as a relevant part of the test subjects' body is integrated into the simulation to manipulate the presence. Virtual reality also allows targeted manipulation for this. We consider the arachnophobia model to be particularly suitable for these investigations. The general topic of the research group is thus expanded to include associative and reflective psychopathological processes and their modulability.