Induction and profiling of strong multi-componential emotions in virtual reality

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PubDate: August 2018

Teams: University of Geneva

Writers: Ben Meuleman; David Rudrauf

PDF: Induction and profiling of strong multi-componential emotions in virtual reality


Psychological theories of emotion have often defined an emotion as simultaneous changes in several mental and bodily components. In addition, appraisal theories assume that an appraisal component elicits changes in the other emotion components (e.g., motivational, behavioural, experiential). Neither the componential definition of emotion nor appraisal theory have been systematically translated to paradigms for emotion induction, many of which rely on passive emotion induction without a clear theoretical framework. As a result, the observed emotions are often weak. This study explored the potential of virtual reality (VR) to evoke strong emotions in ecologically valid scenarios that fully engaged the mental and bodily components of the participant. Participants played several VR games and reported on their emotions. Multivariate analyses using hierarchical clustering and multilevel linear modelling showed that participants experienced intense, multi-componential emotions in VR. We identified joy and fear clusters of responses, each involving changes in appraisal, motivation, physiology, feeling, and regulation. Appraisal variables were found to be the most predictive for fear and joy intensities, compared to other emotion components, and were found to explain individual differences in VR scenarios, as predicted by appraisal theory. The results advocate upgraded methodologies for the induction and analysis of emotion processes.