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Oswald D. Kothgassner
Mag. Dr. Oswald D. KothgassnerHead of Stress in Childhood and Adolescence Research Lab

Comprehensive Center for Pediatrics, Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Position: Research Associate (Postdoc)

ORCID: 0000-0002-3243-0238
T +43 1 40400 32350


Adolescent Behavior; Adolescent Psychology; Anxiety Disorders; Psychophysiology; Social Behavior; Social Behavior Disorders; Stress Disorders, Traumatic, Acute; Stress, Psychological; Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy

Research group(s)

Research interests

The main question that I have devoted my still young research career is to understand chronic and acute stress responses and its consequences from childhood to young adults and how this is related to the development and maintenance of mental disorders. I have been particularly interested in the cognitive, physiological and hormonal underpinnings of stress and their influence on social behavior (e.g. helping behavior, social avoidance). I try to achieve high scientific quality by developing and using innovative technologies like Virtual Reality (VR) for experimental stress research or ecological momentary assessment (EMA) for collecting data outside the laboratory. Furthermore, I focus on the developement and evaluation of new tools for psychological therapy to treat behavioral and stress-related disorders in adolescence and young adults (e.g. computer-based treatments).

My main research fields are experimental psychopathology and research on the efficacy of new (therapeutic) interventions for stress-related disorders (e.g. clinical trials, meta-analyses). I try to contribute for innovative approaches in therapy of stress-related disorders and enable transfer of innovative methods to clinicians in the field.

More information about my work: SCAR-Unit or @KothgassnerLab.

Techniques, methods & infrastructure

VR-Lab: We use Virtual Reality (VR) with included eye-tracking devices for experimental stress induction (Cyberball, TSST), Virtual Reality Interventions for several psychopathologies and Educational Training.

Stress Lab: Our stress lab provides the possibilities of conducting real-life stress tests (TSST, CPT) and ecological momentary assessments.

Selected publications

  1. Kothgassner, O.D. et al., 2021. Virtual and real-life ostracism and its impact on a subsequent acute stressor. Physiology & Behavior, 228, p.113205. Available at:
  2. Kothgassner, O.D. et al., 2021. Hydrocortisone administration for reducing post-traumatic stress symptoms: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 126, p.105168. Available at:
  3. Kothgassner, O.D. et al., 2019. Virtual reality exposure therapy for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD): a meta-analysis. European Journal of Psychotraumatology, 10(1), p.1654782. Available at:
  4. Kothgassner, O.D. et al., 2019. Virtual social support buffers stress response: An experimental comparison of real-life and virtual support prior to a social stressor. Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, 63, pp.57–65. Available at:
  5. Kothgassner, O.D. et al., 2016. Salivary cortisol and cardiovascular reactivity to a public speaking task in a virtual and real-life environment. Computers in Human Behavior, 62, pp.124–135. Available at: