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Supporting Mental Health through Play: Emotion Regulation in Social VR

Primary supervisor

Benjamin Tag


This project aims to extend the existing knowledge on emotion regulation, looking to detect the impact of extrinsic regulation experiences in immersive environments on players and spectators. We will apply a multimodal sensing approach to detect emotional changes in the player using biometric data (electrodermal activity, heart rate, speech analysis, eye movement, pupil dilation), movement signals, and conscious emotional experiences.

Research has highlighted social media’s benefits for promoting a sense of belonging and community, and for supporting the up-regulation of positive emotions. With the wider adoption of immersive social VR platforms, we have an opportunity and social imperative to design tools that support community building and its benefits for each member. As we move to social VR platforms, however, the mechanisms and interactions through which we can design to develop and support up-regulating positive emotions remain poorly understood. This project aims to develop an understanding of emotion regulation in VR to lay the foundations for positive and supportive, social VR experiences.


Student cohort

Single Semester
Double Semester


The project scope includes:

  • Design and development of VR scenarios that trigger emotions
  • Sensor implementation
  • Designing and conducting of user study 1: to build models that allow us to differentiate the regular emotional impact of the immersive environment from the impact of targeted emotion regulation strategies.
  • Designing and conducting of user study 2: we will apply the same biometric sensors to spectators to detect potential synchrony and asynchrony between the biometric signals of the player and spectator, i.e., mutual emotional influence.
  • Data analysis (physiological data, time series data)


Recommended Literature:

  • Nozaki, Y., & Mikolajczak, M. (2020). Extrinsic emotion regulation. Emotion (Washington, D.C.), 20(1), 10–15.


Required knowledge

Skills required:

  • Development experience in Unity
  • Data analysis (incl. physiological data, ESM data, pattern recognition)
  • Interest in running user studies


  • Interest in VR, game development, virtual environments, and play
  • Academic writing/research skills
  • Interest in running user studies
  • Independent decision making