Stanford University

Close Relationships and Virtual Reality

Huang S.A. & Bailenson J.N. (2019) Close Relationships and Virtual Reality. In: Parsons T., Lin L., Cockerham D. (eds) Mind, Brain and Technology. Educational Communications and Technology: Issues and Innovations. Springer, Cham. doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-02631-8_4

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Abstract

The intersection between close relationships research and virtual reality holds great promise for the advancement of both fields. In social science research laboratories and mainstream society, virtual reality is becoming an increasingly popular and viable tool and method for not only studying close relationships such as romantic relationships and friendships, but also for engaging in relational processes (e.g., social interactions, relationship formation, and relationship maintenance). Initial research at the forefront of this intersection has focused on attachment theory in adult romantic relationships, exploring (a) how attachment processes occur and (b) how they may be studied using digital, immersive spaces created via virtual reality. The current chapter first provides a general overview of both attachment theory and virtual reality before delving deeper into the intersection of adult attachment theory, neuroscience, and virtual reality. The chapter then concludes with potential future directions for research at the intersection of close relationships and virtual reality.

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