Studying Cognitive defusion Through Virtual Reality

Virtual reality (VR) is of increasing interest to applied psychologists due to its potential for exposure learning. The current study comprises two experiments that aimed to examine the effect of a VR task on participants relationship with negative self referential thoughts (e.g., 'I am not good enough'). To that end, participants were instructed to select a thought that they were ‘fused with’ and to interact with this thought in a VR environment. In Study 1, 30 participants (age range: 18-65) across three groups (Cognitive Defusion, Distraction & Control) were tested pre and post VR task on trait fusion and their overall relationship with the negaive thought. In Study 2, a further control group of VR only and a state measure of fusion were introduced. Overall the results indicate that VR, not only facilitates the management of negative thoughts, but that it generalises to a reduction in both trait (Study 1) and state (Study 2) fusion levels. The findings are discussed in terms of the utility of VR in applied settings.

Client: University & Research: Date: March 2015 Services: Usu Ardo