Multi-modal responses to the Virtual Reality Trier Social Stress Test: A comparison with standard interpersonal and control conditions

M.A. Fallon, Madelon Hendricx-Riem, L.E. Kunst, W.J. Kop, H.M. Kupper

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Abstract

The Trier Social Stress Test (TSST) is a reliable social-evaluative stressor. To overcome limitations of the in vivo TSST, a standardized virtual reality TSST (VR-TSST) was developed. The present study compares the emotional (anxiety) and physiological (heart period and variability) response to a VR-TSST with an in vivo TSST and a control condition. Participants took part in either an in vivo TSST (N = 106, 64% female), VR-TSST (N = 52, 100% female), or a control TSST (N = 20, 40% female). Mixed linear modeling examined response profile differences related to TSST type. While there was an equivalent anxiety response to the in vivo TSST as the VR-TSST, we found a smaller heart period and heart rate variability response in VR-TSST compared to the in vivo TSST, especially in response to the math part of the test. The present findings demonstrate that social evaluative stress can be successfully induced in a VR setting, producing similar emotional and slightly attenuated cardiovascular responses.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)27-34
JournalInternational Journal of Psychophysiology
Volume161
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Keywords

  • Cardiovascular responses
  • Heart rate variability
  • Psychosocial stress
  • Trier Social Stress Test
  • Virtual reality

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