Publication: Potential of virtual reality as a diagnostic tool for social anxiety

The potential of virtual reality for diagnosing anxiety disorders has been explored to a lesser extent than its use in psychotherapy so far. The current study applied virtual environments as an innovative diagnostic tool for social anxiety and social anxiety disorder and examined differences between low- and high-socially-anxious participants on the basis of specific psychological parameters and recordings of gaze behavior. Out of 119 subjects, 19 low- and 18 high-socially-anxious participants were selected by a social anxiety questionnaire. During the completion of eight tasks in a virtual train and waiting room scenario, the skin conductance response and gaze behavior was monitored. The findings indicate that analyzing fixation durations of faces in a virtual social situation is even more suitable for distinguishing low- and high-social-anxious participants than investigations of skin conductance responses. Virtual reality is a potential diagnostic tool for social anxiety disorder.High-socially-anxious participants fixated on facial regions significantly shorter.Analysis of gaze behavior is a suitable measure for social anxiety.




Martin Dechant
University of Saskatchewan


Dechant, M. 2017. Potential of virtual reality as a diagnostic tool for social anxiety. In Journal Computers in Human Behavior, vol. 76 no. C, Elsevier Science Publishers B. V.. Amsterdam. 128-134. DOI=10.1016/j.chb.2017.07.005.


@article {544-Potential_GazeVR,
author= {Martin Dechant},
title= {Potential of virtual reality as a diagnostic tool for social anxiety},
booktitle= {Journal Computers in Human Behavior},
year= {2017},
volume= {76},
number= {C},
series= {Elsevier Science Publishers B. V.},
address= {Amsterdam},
pages= {128-134}