The Future of Immersive Mood Induction in Affective Science: Using Virtual Reality to Test Effects of Mood Context on Task Performance

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College of Arts Humanities and Social Sciences, Psychology


Emotion regulation, Mood induction, Virtual reality, Cognitive reappraisal


A fundamental premise of affective and clinical science is that fluctuations in mood drive meaningful changes in cognition and behavior. These theories are often tested via laboratory mood induction procedures followed by performing an established task. Despite advances in understanding the temporal dynamics of emotions, it is still unclear whether it is the enduring mood that impacts subsequent task performance. Additionally, this design requires task switching, which may limit the impact of mood and affect task performance. We suggest that virtual reality (VR) offers a more powerful, immersive alternative to traditional mood induction methods and effectively addresses these limitations because it can be used to create mood contexts that occur simultaneously with task performance. VR creates an immersive, real-world experience while benefiting from a well-controlled laboratory setting (Diniz Bernardo et al., 2021). We first summarize the literature on mood induction methodologies, including evidence that VR creates a more immersive environment, leading to mood inductions that are greater in magnitude than other methods. We then report a novel empirical study on the feasibility of utilizing VR to create a mood context that occurs simultaneously with a gold-standard emotion regulation task. Our results indicate that VR was a powerful and enduring positive mood induction tool, resulting in immediate changes in mood and greater trial-by-trial positivity ratings during the concurrent task. Portions of this study were pre-registered on August 3, 2020, on the Clinical Trials website (project citation:

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Copyright is held by Springer Nature. User is responsible for all copyright compliance. This article was originally published as:

Kako, N., Waugh, C.E., & McRae, K. (2023). The future of immersive mood induction in affective science: Using virtual reality to test effects of mood context on task performance. Affective Science, 4(3), 570–579.

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Springer Nature


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English (eng)

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Affective Science



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