Design and evaluation of simulated reflective thoughts in virtual reality exposure training

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Research output: ThesisDissertation (TU Delft)

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Social skills are often an integral part of functioning in modern society, and therefore, in the past decades, social skills training has received considerable research attraction. Various physical and digital approaches have been developed to improve people’s performance in social interaction. Among these approaches, social skills training systems that use multiple technologies (e.g. virtual reality) play an important role. Usually, training systems impart knowledge to users or provide them with the opportunities to learn by doing or by observing. In this thesis, we propose and investigate a novel training approach that aims at simulating the thinking process and providing a stream of thoughts (i.e., virtual cognitions) that people experience during social interaction in virtual reality. Through this approach, users, not only, learn what to do and how to act, but also to understand the underlying reasons why they should behave in a specific manner. Furthermore, users’ beliefs about their capabilities of engaging in social interaction, i.e., their self-efficacy, are also targeted. Several empirical studies were conducted that demonstrate the possibility of generating virtual cognitions and investigate their effects on people’s beliefs and behaviour. The findings imply that providing virtual cognitions in virtual reality can work as a novel and promising intervention that improves people’s self-efficacy and teach them theoretical knowledge concepts in a realistic setting.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Delft University of Technology
  • Neerincx, M.A., Supervisor
  • Brinkman, W.P., Supervisor
Award date4 Jun 2020
Place of PublicationThe Netherlands
Print ISBNs978-94-028-2067-6
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Virtual reality
  • Virtual cognitions
  • Social skills training
  • Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy (VRET)
  • Eye-tracking
  • Inner voice
  • Behaviour change support system
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Training system

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