Adolescent Psychology; Child Psychology; Ethics; Ethics, Medical; Psychophysiology; Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy
- Pediatric Virtual Reality Research (PedVR-Lab Unit)
Head: Anna Felnhofer
Research Area: Developing and evaluating novel technologies which are intended to enhance the treatment of chronic diseases as well as accompanying psychological issues in children and adolescents by using - amongst others - Virtual Reality (VR) technologies
My research focus is twofold, comprising the fields of virtual reality in clinical psychology and applied ethics in psychology.
(1) Virtual Reality: This research sets out to understand human experiences and behavior in virtual environments as well as to assess the nature of social interaction with virtual entities. Virtual simulations are used to explore the basics of virtual experiences and to assess possibilities of use such as a tool for psychological treatment and psychotherapy. Various virtual simulations may be used for exposure therapy for both children and adults.
(2) Applied Ethics: Studies mainly focus on aspects of Informed Consent such as consent capacity and possible emotional and cognitive predictors of the ability to make an informed decision in medical contexts. Considering decisions in both scientific research and medical treatment allows for a differentiated approach to this construct. Furthermore, this research is designed to inform about ethical aspects of medical practice such as autonomy, confidentiality and privacy issues.
Techniques, methods & infrastructure
(1) Virtual reality: Sophisticated virtual reality applications and technologies (HMD, motion tracking devices, custom made fully interactive virtual simulations) are used to study human behavior and experiences in virtual environments. Additonally, the simulations may be used for exposure therapy purposes.
(2) Psychophysiology: Psychophysiological parameters such as HR, HRV and SCL & SCR are assessed via Biofeedback or POLAR watches and analyzed via KUBIOS.
- Felnhofer, A. et al., 2020. Mothers’ and Fathers’ Perspectives on the Causes of Their Child’s Disorder. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 45(7), pp.803–811. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jpepsy/jsaa056.
- Felnhofer, A. et al., 2019. Physical Presence, Social Presence, and Anxiety in Participants with Social Anxiety Disorder During Virtual Cue Exposure. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 22(1), pp.46–50. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1089/cyber.2018.0221.
- Felnhofer, A. et al., 2019. The mere presence of an attentive and emotionally responsive virtual character influences focus of attention and perceived stress. International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, 132, pp.45–51. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ijhcs.2019.07.010.
- Felnhofer, A. et al., 2019. Evaluating Parents’ and Children’s Assessments of Competence, Health Related Quality of Life and Illness Perception. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 28(10), pp.2690–2699. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10826-019-01449-x.
- Felnhofer, A. et al., 2018. Meeting others virtually in a day-to-day setting: Investigating social avoidance and prosocial behavior towards avatars and agents. Computers in Human Behavior, 80, pp.399–406. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2017.11.031.