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      Assessment of emotional reactivity produced by exposure to virtual environments in patients with eating disorders.

      Cyberpsychology & behavior : the impact of the Internet, multimedia and virtual reality on behavior and society

      Adult, Anorexia Nervosa, diagnosis, psychology, Anxiety, Arousal, Body Image, Bulimia Nervosa, Depression, User-Computer Interface, Eating Disorders, Emotions, Energy Intake, Food Habits, Humans, Male, Social Environment, Adolescent

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          The aim of this study was to assess the usefulness of virtual environments representing situations that are emotionally significant to subjects with eating disorders (ED). These environments may be applied with both evaluative and therapeutic aims and in simulation procedures to carry out a range of experimental studies. This paper is part of a wider research project analyzing the influence of the situation to which subjects are exposed on their performance on body image estimation tasks. Thirty female patients with eating disorders were exposed to six virtual environments: a living-room (neutral situation), a kitchen with high-calorie food, a kitchen with low-calorie food, a restaurant with high-calorie food, a restaurant with low-calorie food, and a swimming-pool. After exposure to each environment the STAI-S (a measurement of state anxiety) and the CDB (a measurement of depression) were administered to all subjects. The results show that virtual reality instruments are particularly useful for simulating everyday situations that may provoke emotional reactions such as anxiety and depression, in patients with ED. Virtual environments in which subjects are obliged to ingest high-calorie food provoke the highest levels of state anxiety and depression.

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