This document collects articles, and studies we found and have referenced to/used along our research journey. It is by no means exhaustive or complete. Each section relates directly to our research which focuses on the impact of emotions (Awe in particular) delivered via VR on improving the mental health of CYP.
Here a brief introduction to our work. We are a team part of Zinc’s cohort 4 whose mission it is to improve CYP emotional and psychological wellbeing.
There is significant scientific evidence to support the use of awe as an intervention: research shows that the experience of awe can alleviate loneliness, brooding ruminative tendencies, and hopelessness, and that it can improve our ability to manage stress and increase our sense of life satisfaction (see The Potential Role of Awe for Depression: Reassembling the Puzzle); recent studies also show that CYP are particularly receptive to awe-based experiences.
The perception of vastness inherent in AWE can help CYP understand that the world is bigger than themselves, and inspire them to act accordingly. This “small self,” as psychologist Paul Piff puts it, “ may help situate individuals within broader social contexts and enhance collective concern”, helping CYP understand themselves as part of a larger community. Piff’s work also suggests other socio-emotional benefits: awe-struck research subjects have shown greater generosity, more ethical decision-making, kinder behavior towards others, and decreased entitlement. By inducing awe we can help CYP “forgo strict self-interest to improve the welfare of others” (see Awe, the Small Self, and Prosocial Behavior)
VR provides three key assets for improving awe:
First, VR provides users with immersive and ecological yet controlled environments that can elicit a sense of “presence,” the subjective experience of “being there” in a simulated reality.
Further, VR can be used to generate complex, vast stimuli, which can evoke specific facets of awe.
Finally, VR allows for convenient tracking of participants’ behavior and physiological responses, allowing for more integrated assessment of emotional experience.
We are honored and grateful to have onboard Dr Alice Chirico (Docente Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore), whose research focuses on the intersection of awe and mental wellbeing, to provide academic and research support.