What if you could see yourself with my eyes? – A pilot study of the impact of a Virtual Reality-environment on relational responding to self

Dermot Barnes-Holmes, Essi Sairanen, Daniel Wallsten, Maria Tillfors

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Abstract

People’s sense of self plays an important role in psychological wellbeing and it is often targeted by perspective taking interventions in psychological treatments. The present study investigated if seeing oneself from the outside perspective in a virtual reality (VR) environment could be used to influence the patterns of relational responding that constitutes the sense of self. Changes in participants’ (N = 9) patterns of relating themselves vs. others with positive attributes and negative attributes were investigated using an Implicit Relational Assessment Procedure (IRAP) that was delivered before and after the one session perspective-taking intervention in VR. In addition, participants’ self-ratings about their experience of the VR intervention were investigated immediately after and one month after the VR-intervention. The results showed changes specifically in seeing oneself more positively, reflected by the increase in the Me – positive trial type in the IRAP. No systematic changes were seen in participants’ relational responding to themselves as being “negative” (i.e. bad, unloved, incompetent) or in patterns of relational responding considering others. In addition, participants experienced moderate positive emotions during the VR-intervention and evaluated the experience as meaningful based on their self-ratings. Together these results suggest that seeing oneself in the VR promoted positive experiences relating to oneself.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Psychology and Psychological Therapy
Volume23
Issue number1
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 15 Nov 2022

Keywords

  • Virtual Reality
  • Sense of self
  • Relational Frame Theory
  • Implicit Relational Assessment Procedure

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