Belgian Association for Psychological Sciences – PsyTS presentations

The expertise unit Psychology, Technology & Society has 4 oral presentations at the annual BAPS meeting in Liège. You may find the abstracts (and in time also the handouts) of each of these presentations below.

A pilot study on the use of immersive technologies in the teaching of automotive technology students

Immersive technologies like virtual reality (VR) and 360° videos have typical applications in the entertainment industry. However, recent studies have shown the potential use of these tools for teaching and training purposes. In this pilot, we explored the use of VR in teaching students the basics of assembling a motor block.

Students were randomly assigned to one of three conditions: a VR condition, a 360° movie condition, or a traditional movie condition. In each condition, students were guided through the different steps required to assemble a motor block. Afterwards, experienced immersion (i.e., personal involvement, experienced realism, and spatial awareness) and acquired knowledge were assessed using an online questionnaire.

Results showed no significant difference in acquired knowledge across the three conditions. However, when subjects felt more personally involved within the VR condition, their performance rose significantly. Experienced realism and spatial awareness had no impact on the test scores. This pilot showed that the use of immersive technologies can result in at least similar testing scores and could be used complementary to traditional teaching styles. Nevertheless, the discussion on how to implement and use these technologies to their full potential in these settings is still ongoing.

E-mental health (research): Insights into opinions and attitudes of mental healthcare organizations in Flanders

One of the most prevalent disorders in current society is depression. Limiting its ever-growing impact poses great societal challenges. E-mental health applications have the potential to provide a substantial contribution to conventional treatment. Although there is strong evidence for the efficacy and effectiveness of such tools, general uptake in the mental health sector remains limited. As implementation of e-mental health is influenced by many factors, it is important to gain insight in which of these factors might impede or facilitate implementation.

In the current study, all psychiatric hospitals and psychiatric departments of general hospitals in Flanders were contacted to participate in an implementation study in which an e-mental health application is used in a blended depression treatment setting. They completed a questionnaire on their reasons for showing interest for participation or for choosing to refuse and on their attitudes towards technological applications in mental healthcare. This presentation presents the first results and discusses how this study helps to uncover which factors promote or hinder large-scale implementation of e-mental health applications in the mental healthcare sector.

  • Presenter: Eva Van Assche
  • Co-authors:  Bert Bonroy, Karolien Baldewijns, Lore Van den Broeck, Kimberly Desie & Tom Van Daele
  • Download slides

The presentation of problematic internet use in newspapers, Flanders, 2014 & 2018

Background: The concept of Problematic Internet Use (PIU) encompasses a number of behaviours people engage in on the Internet. These, among others, include cyberbullying, sexting, watching pornography, internet gambling, gaming or using social media, and may result in developing addictive behaviours. The available information on the amount and nature of the media coverage on problematic internet use is scarce, yet it can play an influential role in framing people’s attitudes and approaches to preventing and addressing it. The aim of this study was to investigate how newspapers in Flanders represent problematic internet use.
Methods: We analysed the content of daily newspapers during the five weekdays of the 2nd week of the subsequent months of 2014 and 2018. This is a total of 60 days. The six most important newspapers in Flanders were included: ‘De Morgen’, ‘De Standaard’, ‘Gazet van Antwerpen’, ‘Belang van Limburg’, ‘Het Nieuwsblad’, and ‘Het Laatste Nieuws’. Content analysis was used to analyse the characteristics of the text, the author, the actors, and the audience. Results: Fifty-five relevant articles were found. Results will be presented at the conference as analysis is going on.
This study is part of an ongoing project “media monitoring” within COST Action on PIU.

Augmented reality and animal phobia: the potential of the Phobos AR smartphone app to elicit feelings of anxiety

Augmented reality (AR) merges virtual elements into the physical world. This study aims to explore the potential of a smartphone application in the context of animal phobia treatment. A first goal was to evaluate whether ‘Phobos AR’ could elicit feelings of anxiety in a non-clinical population. A second goal was to explore whether means of delivery (iPhone versus iPad) impacted self-reported anxiety.

One hundred eleven first-year students of applied psychology were exposed to one animal of their choosing for which they reported some discomfort. Participants were randomly allocated to either smartphone (N=55) or tablet (N=56) condition, after which they ran through three 3-step behavioral approach tasks of increasing intensity. Self-reported anxiety during each of the different steps was the variable of interest.

Results showed a gradual increase of that anxiety within each of the 3 BATs, 135.77<Fs(2, 220)< 185.37, ps< .001, and a significant increase between the first (M=.98, SD=1.28) and the last rating (M=4.56, SD=2.88), t(1,110)=16.15, p<.001. No significant differences were found between both conditions.

In conclusion, this study demonstrates that an AR application can induce self-reported anxiety in a non-clinical population. Further research has to compare this technique to other approaches and explore its potential in clinical populations.

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