A novel integrating virtual reality approach for the assessment of the attachment behavioral system

Irene Alice Chicchi Giglioli, Gabriella Pravettoni, Dolores Lucia Sutil Martín, Elena Parra, Mariano A. Raya

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Virtual reality (VR) technology represents a novel and powerful tool for behavioral research in psychological assessment. VR provides simulated experiences able to create the sensation of undergoing real situations. Users become active participants in the virtual environment seeing, hearing, feeling, and actuating as if they were in the real world. Currently, the most psychological VR applications concern the treatment of various mental disorders but not the assessment, that it is mainly based on paper and pencil tests. The observation of behaviors is costly, labor-intensive, and it is hard to create social situations in laboratory settings, even if the observation of actual behaviors could be particularly informative. In this framework, social stressful experiences can activate various behaviors of attachment for a significant person that can help to control and soothe them to promote individual's well-being. Social support seeking, physical proximity, and positive and negative behaviors represent the main attachment behaviors that people can carry out during experiences of distress. We proposed VR as a novel integrating approach to measure real attachment behaviors. The first studies on attachment behavioral system by VR showed the potentiality of this approach. To improve the assessment during the VR experience, we proposed virtual stealth assessment (VSA) as a new method. VSA could represent a valid and novel technique to measure various psychological attributes in real-time during the virtual experience. The possible use of this method in psychology could be to generate a more complete, exhaustive, and accurate individual's psychological evaluation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number959
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Issue numberJUN
Publication statusPublished - Jun 28 2017


  • Attachment
  • Ecological validity
  • Evidence-centered design
  • Presence
  • Stealth assessment
  • Virtual reality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


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