Virtual Reality (VR) provides a unique opportunity for researchers to study social interactions in a highly controlled and realistic environment. Our previous work has shown that people with psychopathic traits have difficulty regulating their interpersonal distance in VR interactions, suggesting that they lack the appropriate avoidance response to social threats. This finding has significant implications for the use of VR in the diagnosis and treatment of psychological disorders. By combining knowledge of social perception and movement science, we can further develop VR as a tool for psychotherapy and psychiatric diagnosis within the framework of Approach-Avoidance Theory. Our work has been published in leading journals such as “Clinical Psychological Science” and “European Eating Disorders Review”, demonstrating the potential of VR in advancing the field of psychology.
We are also working on creating new social interaction paradigms using Augmented Reality (AR). This technology allows for a virtual person to appear within a real-life space, such as a person’s home. Our initial pilot studies have shown that non-verbal behavior, like interpersonal distance, is just as important in AR as it is in real and completely virtual environments. When people encounter an augmented person, they behave in a similar way as they would in real life, maintaining their personal space. These findings suggest that virtual agents have a high level of social presence.