Adolescent Psychology; Child Psychology; Ethics; Ethics, Medical; Psychophysiology; Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy
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., 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.
- Kothgassner, O.D. et al., 2017. Real-life prosocial behavior decreases after being socially excluded by avatars, not agents. Computers in Human Behavior, 70, pp.261-269. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2016.12.059.
- 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: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2016.03.081.
- Felnhofer, A. et al., 2015. Is virtual reality emotionally arousing? Investigating five emotion inducing virtual park scenarios. International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, 82, pp.48-56. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ijhcs.2015.05.004.
- Felnhofer, A. et al., 2014. Physical and social presence in collaborative virtual environments: Exploring age and gender differences with respect to empathy. Computers in Human Behavior, 31, pp.272-279. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2013.10.045.