Physiological monitoring as an objective tool in virtual reality therapy

Cyberpsychol Behav. 2002 Feb;5(1):77-82. doi: 10.1089/109493102753685908.


The goals of this study were twofold: (1) to investigate nonphobics' and phobics' physiological response in virtual environments, and (2) to analyze the trend of phobics' physiology during virtual reality (VR) treatment. As a measure of physiology, heart rate, skin resistance, and skin temperature were acquired. The data for two groups of participants were analyzed: 22 nonphobic participants (mean = 32 +/- 9.4 years) and 36 subjects with fear of flying (mean = 40 +/- 12.1 years) who met the DSM-IV criteria for fear of flying. As a result, skin resistance showed significant differences between nonphobics and phobics, T(56) = 2.978 and p < 0.01, respectively. The physiological response of 33 phobic participants, who were able to fly without medicine after VR treatment, showed a gradual trend toward the nonphobics' physiological responses as therapy sessions progressed. In this study, physiological monitoring, in particular skin resistance, appeared to be useful both in understanding the physiological state of phobic individuals and in evaluating the results of treatment in VR psychotherapy.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aviation
  • Body Temperature
  • Fear
  • Female
  • Galvanic Skin Response / physiology
  • Heart Rate / physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Monitoring, Physiologic*
  • Phobic Disorders / diagnosis
  • Phobic Disorders / psychology
  • Phobic Disorders / therapy
  • Psychotherapy / instrumentation*
  • User-Computer Interface*