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Oswald D. Kothgassner
Mag. Dr. Oswald D. Kothgassner

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 interests

My main research focus is to develope and evaluate new technology-based tools for psychological therapy to treat behavioral and stress-related disorders in adolescence and young adults. This research sets out to understand human experiences and behavior in Virtual Reality (VR) as well as to assess the nature of social interaction with virtual entities. VR is used to explore the basics of virtual experiences and to assess possibilities of use such as a tool for psychological treatment. VR offers manifold possibilities to treat disorders affecting social behavior as well as stress-related disorders using game-based therapy tools as well as VR exposure therapy. Furthermore I'm interested in the development of new assessments of stress-related disorders in children and adolescents to validate diagnosis, using proper multidimensional questionnaires and psychophysiological measures (ECG, SCL, EMG, EEG).

Techniques, methods & infrastructure

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.

Selected publications

  1. Kothgassner, O.D. et al., 2020. Does treatment method matter? A meta-analysis of the past 20 years of research on therapeutic interventions for self-harm and suicidal ideation in adolescents. Borderline Personality Disorder and Emotion Dysregulation, 7(1). Available at:
  2. 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:
  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., 2017. Real-life prosocial behavior decreases after being socially excluded by avatars, not agents. Computers in Human Behavior, 70, pp.261–269. 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: