Inward VR: Toward a Qualitative Method for Investigating Interoceptive Awareness in VR

Alexander C. Haley, Don Thorpe, Alex Pelletier, Svetlana Yarosh, Daniel F. Keefe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


lmmersive virtual reality (VR) technologies can produce powerful illusions of being in another place or inhabiting another body, and theories of presence and embodiment provide valuable guidance to designers of VR applications that use these illusions to "take us elsewhere."However, an increasingly common design goal for VR experiences is to develop a deeper awareness of the internal landscape of one's own body (i.e., interoceptive awareness); here, design guidelines and evaluative techniques are less clear. To address this, we present a methodology, including a reusable codebook, for adapting the five dimensions of the Multidimensional Assessment of Interoceptive Awareness (MAIA) conceptual framework to explore interoceptive awareness in VR experiences via qualitative interviews. We report results from a first exploratory study (n=21) applying this method to understand the interoceptive experiences of users in a VR environment. The environment includes a guided body scan exercise with a motion-tracked avatar visible in a virtual mirror and an interactive visualization of a biometric signal detected via a heartbeat sensor. The results provide new insights on how this example VR experience might be refined to better support interoceptive awareness and how the methodology might continue to be refined for understanding other "inward-facing"VR experiences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2557-2566
Number of pages10
JournalIEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors wish to thank Ben Lifson, David Buyck, Benjamin Hohl and the VR for Health Collaborative for helping to support the work described in this paper.

Publisher Copyright:
© 1995-2012 IEEE.


  • Human computer interaction (HCI)
  • Human-centered computing
  • Interaction paradigms
  • Virtual reality

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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