We explored the effect of being able to form vivid mental images on the experience of phobia during exposure treatment in virtual environments. Taking subjects with acrophobia, we randomized them to two treatment groups: in vivo exposure treatment in a real building versus virtual exposure in a model of the same building, projected in a CAVE™ Virtual Environment. Using Marks' Vividness of Visual Imagery Questionnaire (VVIQ-2) as a measure of vividness of visual imagery, we performed Pearson correlations of vividness with amount of fear experienced as measured by Pekala's Phenomenology of Consciousness Inventory (PCI). Contrary to expectation, we found a negative correlation between vividness of visualization and amount of fear experienced during exposure (R =- 0.77728, p = 0.0137). There was a positive correlation between fear and vividness of visualization during the exposure experience as measured by the PCI (R = 0.94083, p = 0.0171). These results are discussed in terms of possible differences between the VVIQ and PCI vividness measures as well as possible effects from the subject's experience
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