Social enviroments and mental health: Exploring new worlds with virtual reality

Geraets, C. N. W., 2020, [Groningen]: Rijksuniversiteit Groningen. 126 p.

Research output: ThesisThesis fully internal (DIV)

Copy link to clipboard


  • Title and contents

    Final publisher's version, 154 KB, PDF document

  • Chapter 1

    Final publisher's version, 123 KB, PDF document

  • Chapter 2

    Final publisher's version, 606 KB, PDF document

  • Chapter 3

    Final publisher's version, 1.16 MB, PDF document

    Embargo ends: 27/10/2021

    Request copy

  • Chapter 4

    Final publisher's version, 641 KB, PDF document

  • Chapter 5

    Final publisher's version, 702 KB, PDF document

  • Chapter 6

    Final publisher's version, 194 KB, PDF document

  • Chapter 7

    Final publisher's version, 492 KB, PDF document

  • Chapter 8

    Final publisher's version, 82.8 KB, PDF document

  • Curriculum vitae

    Final publisher's version, 42.2 KB, PDF document

  • Complete thesis

    Final publisher's version, 3.46 MB, PDF document

    Embargo ends: 27/10/2021

    Request copy

  • Propositions

    Final publisher's version, 77.6 KB, PDF document


With virtual reality (VR) glasses, you can enter a completely different world within seconds. Computer-generated VR simulations of real-like environments can trigger psychological and physical reactions, such as anxiety, sweating or joy, similar to the reactions in real life. This characteristic of VR simulations - feeling real- makes VR a powerful tool for assessment, therapies and research in mental healthcare.
With this thesis, we experimentally investigated how people behave in VR environments. We found that people with and without a vulnerability for psychosis maintain similar interpersonal distance to other visitors in a virtual café. Further, we found that emotion recognition in faces of VR simulated people and real people is very similar. This finding supports that virtual emotional stimuli – i.e., emotions on virtual faces - are suitable for research and training of emotion recognition skills.
Next, the effects of a novel VR cognitive behavioral therapy (VR-CBT) were investigated in patients with a psychotic disorder and patients with a generalized anxiety disorder. During VR-CBT patients practice within virtual environments which they tend to avoid in the real world. They could practice in a VR bar, streets, bus and supermarket environment. VR environments were personalized by the therapist to fit the specific needs of the patient. The VR-CBT intervention was effective in reducing paranoia as well as social anxiety in everyday life. Currently, several mental health care institutes in the Netherlands are offering VR-CBT as a treatment.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Veling, Wim, Supervisor
  • Beilen, van, Marije, Co-supervisor
  • Pijnenborg, Marieke, Assessment committee
  • Myin-Germeys, Inez, Assessment committee, External person
  • de Haan, L., Assessment committee, External person
Award date27-Oct-2020
Place of Publication[Groningen]
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Download statistics

No data available

ID: 135815994