Sonic intelligence as a virtual therapeutic environment

Tarnanas, Ioannis; Adam, Dimitrios (2003). Sonic intelligence as a virtual therapeutic environment. Cyberpsychology, behavior and social networking, 6(3), pp. 309-314. Mary Ann Liebert 10.1089/109493103322011614

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This paper reports on the results of a research project, on comparing one virtual collaborative environment with a first-person visual immersion (first-perspective interaction) and a second one where the user interacts through a sound-kinetic virtual representation of himself (avatar), as a stress-coping environment in real-life situations. Recent developments in coping research are proposing a shift from a trait-oriented approach of coping to a more situation-specific treatment. We defined as real-life situation a target-oriented situation that demands a complex coping skills inventory of high self-efficacy and internal or external "locus of control" strategies. The participants were 90 normal adults with healthy or impaired coping skills, 25-40 years of age, randomly spread across two groups. There was the same number of participants across groups and gender balance within groups. All two groups went through two phases. In Phase I, Solo, one participant was assessed using a three-stage assessment inspired by the transactional stress theory of Lazarus and the stress inoculation theory of Meichenbaum. In Phase I, each participant was given a coping skills measurement within the time course of various hypothetical stressful encounters performed in two different conditions and a control group. In Condition A, the participant was given a virtual stress assessment scenario relative to a first-person perspective (VRFP). In Condition B, the participant was given a virtual stress assessment scenario relative to a behaviorally realistic motion controlled avatar with sonic feedback (VRSA). In Condition C, the No Treatment Condition (NTC), the participant received just an interview. In Phase II, all three groups were mixed and exercised the same tasks but with two participants in pairs. The results showed that the VRSA group performed notably better in terms of cognitive appraisals, emotions and attributions than the other two groups in Phase I (VRSA, 92%; VRFP, 85%; NTC, 34%). In Phase II, the difference again favored the VRSA group against the other two. These results indicate that a virtual collaborative environment seems to be a consistent coping environment, tapping two classes of stress: (a) aversive or ambiguous situations, and (b) loss or failure situations in relation to the stress inoculation theory. In terms of coping behaviors, a distinction is made between self-directed and environment-directed strategies. A great advantage of the virtual collaborative environment with the behaviorally enhanced sound-kinetic avatar is the consideration of team coping intentions in different stages. Even if the aim is to tap transactional processes in real-life situations, it might be better to conduct research using a sound-kinetic avatar based collaborative environment than a virtual first-person perspective scenario alone. The VE consisted of two dual-processor PC systems, a video splitter, a digital camera and two stereoscopic CRT displays. The system was programmed in C++ and VRScape Immersive Cluster from VRCO, which created an artificial environment that encodes the user's motion from a video camera, targeted at the face of the users and physiological sensors attached to the body.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


10 Strategic Research Centers > ARTORG Center for Biomedical Engineering Research > ARTORG Center - Gerontechnology and Rehabilitation

UniBE Contributor:

Tarnanas, Ioannis


500 Science > 570 Life sciences; biology
600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health




Mary Ann Liebert




Ioannis Tarnanas

Date Deposited:

01 Sep 2014 11:11

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 14:31

Publisher DOI:


PubMed ID:





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