Self-identification with a Virtual Experience and Its Moderating Effect on Self-efficacy and Presence

Ni Kang, Ding Ding*, M. Birna van Riemsdijk, Nexhmedin Morina, Mark Neerincx, Willem-Paul Brinkman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)
84 Downloads (Pure)


Effective psychological interventions for anxiety disorders often include exposure to fearful situations. However, individuals with low self-efficacy may find such exposure too overwhelming. We created a vicarious experience in virtual reality, which enables observation of one’s experience from a first person perspective without actual performance and which might increase self-efficacy. With similarities to both traditional vicarious experiences and direct experiences, the level of self-identification with the experience was hypothesized to affect self-efficacy and its relationship with direct experiences. To test this, vicarious experiences with two distinct levels of self-identification were compared in a between-subjects experiment ((Formula presented.)). After being exposed to a vicarious experience of giving lectures on elementary arithmetic in front of a virtual audience with either a high or low level of self-identification with the public speaker, participants from both conditions actively gave another lecture. The results revealed that self-identification affected people’s self-efficacy after vicarious experience. They further revealed that self-identification is a moderator of (1) the correlation between perceived performance and self-efficacy, (2) the correlation between self-efficacy measured after the vicarious and the follow-up direct experience; and (3) the correlation between the sense of presence reported in the vicarious and in the follow-up direct experience. We anticipate that the first-person-perspective experiences with high-level of self-identification have the potential to be beneficial for training where changing people’s self-efficacy is desirable.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)181-196
Number of pages16
JournalInternational journal of human-computer interaction
Issue number2
Early online date8 Sept 2020
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jan 2021


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