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

Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Position: Lecturer

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

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., Griesinger, M., Kettner, K., Wayan, K., Völkl-Kernstock, S., Hlavacs, H., ... & Felnhofer, A. (2017). Real-life prosocial behavior decreases after being socially excluded by avatars, not agents. Computers in Human Behavior 70, 261-269.
  2. Kothgassner, O. D., Felnhofer, A., Hlavacs, H., Beutl, L., Palme, R., Kryspin-Exner, I., & Glenk, L. M. (2016). Salivary cortisol and cardiovascular reactivity to a public speaking task in a virtual and real-life environment. Computers in Human Behavior, 62, 124-135.
  3. Felnhofer, A.*, Kothgassner, O.D.*, Hetterle, T., Beutl, L., Hlavacs, H. & Kryspin-Exner, I. (2014). Afraid to be there? Evaluating the relation between presence, self-reported anxiety and heart rate in a virtual public speaking task. Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking, 17(5), 310-316. *Shared first authorship
  4. Kothgassner, O. D., Kafka, J. X., Rudyk, J., Beutl, L., Hlavacs, H. & Felnhofer, A. (2014). Does social exclusion hurt virtually like it hurts in real-life? The role of agency and social presence in the perception and experience of social exclusion. Proceedings of the International Society for Presence Research, 45-56.
  5. Lehenbauer, M., Kothgassner, O. D., Kryspin-Exner, I. & Stetina, B. U. (2013). An online self-administered social skills training for young adults: Results from a pilot study. Computers & Education, 61, 217,