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RESEARCH ARTICLE

The Body Image Virtual Reality Assessment (BIVRA): Measuring the body representation through virtual reality

Giulia Brizzi

Giulia Brizzi

Applied Technology for Neuro-Psychology Laboratory, IRCCS Istituto Auxologico Italiano, Milan, Italy

Contribution: Conceptualization, Methodology, Software, Data curation, Formal analysis, Writing - original draft, Visualization

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Giuseppe Riva

Giuseppe Riva

Applied Technology for Neuro-Psychology Laboratory, IRCCS Istituto Auxologico Italiano, Milan, Italy

Humane Technology Laboratory, Catholic University of Sacred Heart, Milan, Italy

Contribution: Writing - review & editing, Supervision

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Daniele Romano

Corresponding Author

Daniele Romano

Department of Psychology and MIBTEC: Mind and Behavior Technological Center, University of Milano-Bicocca, Milan, Italy

Correspondence

Daniele Romao, Piazza Ateneo Nuovo, 1, 20126 Milan, Italy.

Email: [email protected]

Contribution: Conceptualization, Methodology, Formal analysis, Supervision, Writing - review & editing

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First published: 04 April 2024

Abstract

Our physical and psychological well-being is significantly influenced by how we perceive our body, in addition to our thoughts and emotions associated with it. Dysfunctional body perceptions and attitudes play a key role in the development and maintenance of severe conditions such as eating disorders in both males and females. Given its relevance, some attempts have been made to improve body image assessment methods in terms of perceptual accuracy and body satisfaction taking advantage of technological advances such as virtual reality. However, existing applications have mainly focused on women and clinical conditions. In this study, we presented the Body Image Virtual Reality Assessment (BIVRA), a virtual reality figure rating scale to assess body image in both male and female subjects. We tested BIVRA's ability to measure perceptual accuracy and compared its results with a standardized body satisfaction questionnaire. Additionally, we investigated gender differences. BIVRA was found to be effective in assessing body image. We observed that a perceptually based task successfully captured both low and high levels of body representations, shedding light on the significant gender differences. The association between BIVRA and the body satisfaction questionnaires was moderated by gender, with a stronger association for women. While further validation of BIVRA is needed to fully exploit its potential, our results suggest that the integration of virtual reality into the assessment of body image and related disorders may significantly enhance our understanding of individuals struggling with body image issues and has the potential to advance current methods and techniques.

CONFLICT OF INTEREST STATEMENT

None.

DATA AVAILABILITY STATEMENT

The data that support the findings of this study are available on request from the corresponding author. The data are not publicly available due to privacy or ethical restrictions.