Virtual reality for social skills training

Gillies, Marco and Pan, Xueni. 2018. 'Virtual reality for social skills training'. In: VR/AR in Higher Education Conference 2018. Swansea, United Kingdom 12 September 2018. [Conference or Workshop Item]

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Abstract or Description

Professional work involves a high degree of technical knowledge that must be acquired through years of study at school and university. However, it also involves other, more implicit, skills that cannot be easily learned from books or lectures. An important example is social skills, interacting with other people in potentially challenging professional situations. These social skills can only be learned through practice in realistic situations. However, real situations do not support the kind of deliberate practice required for improving skills. This paper proposes that Virtual Reality can provide a method of practising social skills that potentially allows deliberate practice in a safe setting. It reviews a range of studies by Slater and colleagues starting from the late 1990s that demonstrate the ability of Virtual Reality to reproduce the experience of social interaction. These studies show that people respond realistically to virtual humans, opening up the possibility of using them as a means of practicing social interactions. Two experiments in particular show this potential for medical training, involving general practitioners practising difficult consultations with patients. The paper concludes with suggestions for what is required to enable deliberate practice of social skills in Virtual Reality.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)


Virtual Reality, Virtual Humans, Social Skills, Learning, Deliberate Practice

Departments, Centres and Research Units:



12 September 2018UNSPECIFIED

Event Location:

Swansea, United Kingdom

Date range:

12 September 2018

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

12 Sep 2019 08:08

Last Modified:

15 Jun 2021 01:31


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