A single-session VR intervention addressing self-compassion and self-criticism with and without perspective change: Results of a randomized controlled experiment

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Excessive self-criticism is an important transdiagnostic psychological factor. In contrast, self-compassion can contribute to the resilience and recovery of clinical populations, making this an important target for treatment. Virtual Reality (VR) has the potential to improve existing interventions as it allows for personalized roleplays that can be experienced from different perspectives, by using the novel VR technique of perspective change. We investigated the effects of a VR intervention on self-criticism and self-compassion, and the added value of changing perspectives. In total, 68 undergraduate students with high levels of self-criticism were randomized to either the perspective change condition or the control condition. Participants played two roleplays in which they had to react compassionately toward a virtual character that expressed the participants' own self-critical thoughts. In the perspective change condition, after each roleplay perspective change was used to receive one's own compassionate words. Results showed that self-compassion increased and self-criticism decreased significantly in both conditions. No significant differences were found for negative and positive affect. Furthermore, no differences were found between the conditions. Thus, receiving compassionate words through perspective change had no additional effect. Expressing compassion to someone with similar self-criticism showed to be sufficient to reduce self-criticism and increase self-compassion.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104466
Number of pages8
JournalBehaviour Research and Therapy
Publication statusPublished - Feb-2024


  • Humans
  • Self-Assessment
  • Self-Compassion
  • Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy
  • Empathy
  • Resilience, Psychological

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