Anxious people tend to overestimate environmental threats, but mindfulness and VR relaxation animation can reduce this distress, according to a new VR study. The research shows that anxious people have higher physiological reactions and distress when exposed to a VR experience on top of a skyscraper, though therapy could help.
- The study, led by researcher Dino Krupić and his team, was published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences.
- The team exposed 122 participants to a VR experiment called "Richie’s Plank Experience," which asked them to walk on a wooden plank on a skyscraper overlooking a city.
- Anxious people showed higher skin conductance and subjective distress after the experience. They also tend to focus more on their heart beating, sweating, and other physiological stress reactions, Krupić said.
- The researchers believe anxious individuals “are prone to catastrophizing,” which raises their physiological arousal and distress. They suggest therapeutic resources, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, to deal with catastrophic thinking as a way to combat anxiety.
- A brief mindfulness technique and VR relaxation animation reduced this distress, the study found.