Validation of a Virtual Reality Buffet environment to assess food selection processes among emerging adults

Charissa S.L. Cheah, Salih Barman, Kathy T.T. Vu, Sarah E. Jung, Varun Mandalapu, Travis D. Masterson, Ryan J. Zuber, Lee Boot, Jiaqi Gong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Emerging adulthood is a critical developmental period for examining food- and eating-related behaviors as long-term weight-related behavioral patterns are established. Virtual reality (VR) technology is a promising tool for basic and applied research on eating and food-related processes. Thus, the present study tested the validity and user perceptions of a highly immersive and realistic VR food buffet by: (1) comparing participants' food selections made in the VR buffet and a real-world (RW) food buffet cafeteria one-week apart, and (2) assessing participants' rated perceptions of their VR experience (0–100 scale). Participants comprised an ethnically diverse sample of emerging adults (N = 35, Mage = 20.49, SD = 2.17). Results revealed that participants' food selections in the VR and RW food buffets were significantly and positively correlated in Kcals, grams, carbohydrates, and protein (all p's < 0.05). Moreover, participants perceived that: (a) the VR buffet was natural (M = 70.97, SD = 20.92), (b) their lunch selection in the VR buffet represented a lunch they would select on an average day (M = 84.11, SD = 15.92); and (c) their selection represented a lunch they would select if the same foods were available (M = 91.29, SD = 11.00). Our findings demonstrated the validity and acceptability of our highly immersive and realistic VR buffet for assessing food selection that is generalizable to RW food settings one-week apart without precisely matched foods. The findings of this study support the utility of VR as a validated tool for research on psychological and behavioral food-related processes and training interventions among emerging adults.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number104741
JournalAppetite
Volume153
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Psychology(all)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics

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    Cheah, C. S. L., Barman, S., Vu, K. T. T., Jung, S. E., Mandalapu, V., Masterson, T. D., Zuber, R. J., Boot, L., & Gong, J. (2020). Validation of a Virtual Reality Buffet environment to assess food selection processes among emerging adults. Appetite, 153, [104741]. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.appet.2020.104741