Training skills and resilience with Virtual-Reality: theory and applications

Lead Research Organisation: King's College London
Department Name: Political Economy


The journalists that provide us with news about riots, accidents, disasters, and violent incidences live and work in hostile environments. These experiences can cause automatic human reactions which can put the person's life at risk. These experiences can also create anxiety, trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) with long-term consequences. It is estimated that 1 in 5 journalists suffer from PTSD in relation to work-related events (Feinstein et al., 2002). The ability to self-regulate emotions and maintain control while witnessing hostilities and violence is of crucial importance for journalists and others who operate in hostile environments. The primary goal of this research is to understand and build resilience towards the psychological challenges of working in hostile environments. The project builds a collaboration with HeadSet, an award-winning organisation that provides training for journalists in an innovative way: using immersive virtual reality. Immersive virtual reality is a promising way to build resilience to hostile environments because it creates simulated yet realistic scenarios where journalists can experience situations that may occur to them and practice strategies to protect themselves in a safe space where mistakes are inconsequential. Such training can help journalists to be more self-aware, react quickly, avoid mistakes, and ultimately save lives. This PhD project studies which characteristics of resilience training make them effective in building trainees' individual resilience, and how immersive IVR-based resilience training develops resilience in trainee journalists relative to traditional trainings. Using a series of randomized experiments conducted in collaboration with HeadSet, the project analyses the impacts of immersive virtual reality training on journalists self-awareness, self-regulation and wellbeing, what makes them effective and how long the effects last. The project will also investigate the extent to which virtual reality experiences can be used more broadly to train socio-cognitive skills that reduce prejudices and de-escalate conflict in interpersonal relationships. The PhD student joins a thriving, interdisciplinarity team of researchers and professionals which has experiences in designing and evaluating virtual reality training for the development of socio-cognitive skills. The supervisory team has expertise in quantitative and qualitative methodology, behavioural economics and psychology.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
ES/P000703/1 30/09/2017 29/09/2027
2606089 Studentship ES/P000703/1 30/09/2021 28/06/2025 Xenia Stieger