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J Anxiety Disord. 2019 Jan;61:37-44. doi: 10.1016/j.janxdis.2018.12.003. Epub 2018 Dec 21.

Immersive 3D exposure-based treatment for spider fear: A randomized controlled trial.

Author information

1
Department of Psychology, The University of Texas at Austin, 108 E Dean Keeton St, Austin, TX, 78712, USA.
2
Department of Psychology, The University of Texas at Austin, 108 E Dean Keeton St, Austin, TX, 78712, USA. Electronic address: emilycarl@utexas.edu.
3
UT3D Program, 2504 Whitis Ave, Austin, TX, 78705, USA.
4
Department of Radio-Television-Film, The University of Texas at Austin, 2504 Whitis Ave, Austin, TX, 78705, USA; UT3D Program, 2504 Whitis Ave, Austin, TX, 78705, USA.
5
UT3D Program, 2504 Whitis Ave, Austin, TX, 78705, USA; Department of Radio-Television-Film, The University of Texas at Austin, 2504 Whitis Ave, Austin, TX, 78705, USA.
6
Stockholm University, SE-106 91, Stockholm, Sweden.
7
Department of Psychology, The University of Texas at Austin, 108 E Dean Keeton St, Austin, TX, 78712, USA; Baylor University Medical Center, 3500 Gaston Ave, Dallas, TX, 75246, USA.

Abstract

Stereoscopic 3D gives the viewer the same shape, size, perspective and depth they would experience viewing the real world and could mimic the perceptual threat cues present in real life. This is the first study to investigate whether an immersive stereoscopic 3D video exposure-based treatment would be effective in reducing fear of spiders. Participants with a fear of spiders (N = 77) watched two psychoeducational videos with facts about spiders and phobias. They were then randomized to a treatment condition that watched a single session of a stereoscopic 3D immersive video exposure-based treatment (six 5-minute exposures) delivered through a virtual reality headset or a psychoeducation only control condition that watched a 30-minute neutral video (2D documentary) presented on a computer monitor. Assessments of spider fear (Fear of Spiders Questionnaire [FSQ], Behavioral Approach Task [BAT], & subjective ratings of fear) were completed pre- and post-treatment. Consistent with prediction, the stereoscopic 3D video condition outperformed the control condition in reducing fear of spiders showing a large between-group change effect size on the FSQ (Cohen's d = 0.85) and a medium between-group effect size on the BAT (Cohen's d = 0.47). This provides initial support for stereoscopic 3D video in treating phobias.

KEYWORDS:

Exposure therapy; Specific phobia; Spider phobia; Virtual reality

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