Technology As An Experimental And Clinical Tool

2291 Words10 Pages
Since its inception, both in science fiction and in real life, Virtual Reality (VR) technology has been envisioned as an entertainment product; however, in recent years, science has slowly adopted the technology as an experimental and clinical tool. While it has been applied in the treatment of phobias (Klinger et al., 2005), eating disorders (Riva, 2011), and posttraumatic stress disorder (Rothbaum, Hodges, Ready, Graap, & Alarcon, 2001), many areas of psychology have yet to implement VR technology, often preferring traditional paper-and-pen assessment with computerized scoring (Parsons, 2011). Fortunately, many see VR as a viable new tool, offering greater ecological validity without compromising a researcher’s experimental control (Loomis, Blascovich, & Beall, 1999; Campbell et al., 2009; Parsons, 2015). Crucial to VR is a measurement of an individual’s ‘presence’ in the Virtual Environment (VE): Presence is the feeling of being ‘there’, and reflects to what degree an individual feels as though they are actually occupying a real environment. Essentially, then, an increase to presence equates to greater overall effectiveness of VR (Sanchez-Vives & Slater, 2005). Consequently, presence is an imperative factor in determining the ecological validity of VR, and its current and future role as a research tool in psychology. VR is the simulation of an artificial, or virtual, environment through the aid of specialized hardware. Sitting in front of a desktop display that generates
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