Modelling the Induction of Social Stress in Immersive Virtual rEatity Simulations
Social anxiety is a global problem with significant personal and societal costs. Virtual reality makes it possible to consider new treatment alternatives, in particular for exposure therapy: a practitioner can gradually confront patients with the situations that are problematic to them. In this context, it is important to afford fine control over the stress experienced by the patient in these virtual situations. However, the parameters - and their interactions - influencing the amount and nature of the stress experienced in these interactions are still poorly understood.
Certain social situations, such as public speaking or job interviews, can cause considerable stress and anxiety. In this context, virtual reality simulations are a promising solution to train emotion regulation. However, while virtual social interactions have been shown to cause significant, measurable stress, the influence of the variables controlling this effect is still not fully understood. In the MISSIVES project, we are studying the processes that underlie the induction of social stress in virtual social interactions. The main objective of the project is to establish a model describing the respective influence of the parameters of virtual social interactions - realism, behavior, task,… - on the stress responses of users. Such a model will, for example, allow the prediction and evaluation of stress from multimodal signals (physiology, behavior) in order to create compelling psychotherapy applications.