A1 Journal article (refereed)
Virtual reality acceptance and commitment therapy intervention for social and public speaking anxiety : A randomized controlled trial (2023)

Gorinelli, S., Gallego, A., Lappalainen, P., & Lappalainen, R. (2023). Virtual reality acceptance and commitment therapy intervention for social and public speaking anxiety : A randomized controlled trial. Journal of Contextual Behavioral Science, 28, 289-299. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jcbs.2023.05.004

JYU authors or editors

Publication details

All authors or editorsGorinelli, Simone; Gallego, Ana; Lappalainen, Päivi; Lappalainen, Raimo

Journal or seriesJournal of Contextual Behavioral Science



Publication year2023

Publication date12/05/2023


Pages range289-299

PublisherElsevier BV

Publication countryNetherlands

Publication languageEnglish


Publication open accessOpenly available

Publication channel open accessPartially open access channel

Publication is parallel published (JYX)https://jyx.jyu.fi/handle/123456789/87118


Virtual reality (VR) offers new and flexible ways to provide psychological interventions. The aim of this study was to develop and investigate the effectiveness of a VR intervention based on acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) for social and public speaking anxiety. ACT is a process-based approach that aims to (a) increase individuals’ abilities to handle difficult emotional and cognitive experiences and (b) develop the motivation required for change to occur. In this study, a sample of university students with social interaction or communication anxiety (N = 76; age M = 24.95, SD = 6.50, 69.7% females) was blindly randomized into a total of 2 h of VR ACT training (VRACT; n = 37) or a waiting list control (WLC; n = 39) group. The VRACT group was gradually exposed to social situations using a VR head-mounted display (HMD) and received audio-recorded ACT-based instructions aimed at increasing psychological flexibility. The outcome measurements included self-reported social and communication anxiety, well-being, psychological processes, and behavioral measures. At the final feedback meeting held one week after attending three VR sessions, we observed a significant decrease in social and communication anxiety (d = 0.55–0.61) and a significant improvement in psychological flexibility (d = 0.61), with moderate effect sizes. These findings contribute to advancing knowledge of how ACT can be efficaciously delivered using VR to improve mental health outcomes for university students with social anxiety.

Keywordsvirtual realitysocial phobiaperformance anxietyacceptance and commitment therapyinterventionsocial interactionstudentsmental health

Free keywordsvirtual reality; social anxiety; public speaking anxiety; psychological processes; psychological flexibility; university students

Contributing organizations

Ministry reportingYes

Reporting Year2023

JUFO rating1

Last updated on 2024-03-07 at 01:46