Gert-Jan de Bruijn has received a breakthrough grant from Diabetes foundation and ZonMw to develop and test the effectiveness of working memory training in virtual reality settings to promote healthy grocery shopping in virtual and real-life supermarkets.
It is well-known that, when people move to an area where there is a high density of health-harming food outlets, their odds for developing diabetes type 2 can increase by as much as four times. The idea behind this effect is that when people are exposed to unhealthy food cues in those outlets, they are more likely to purchase and consume those unhealthy foods. This is particularly the case when people are vulnerable to those cues, such as when people are in a state of hunger, have high blood glucose levels, or are diabetic.
Because intervening in real-life supermarkets is problematic due to a variety of reasons, virtual reality approaches are gaining traction in studies on health decision making. In this project, Gert-Jan (together with colleagues from Tilburg University, Free University Medical Center, and the Department of Psychology of the University of Amsterdam) will transfer offline working memory training strategies to a virtual reality mobile app setting. In this virtual reality setting, several external (store crowdedness, hedonic temptations) and internal (glucose levels, hunger) will be manipulated. After training, participants will do grocery shopping in an immersive virtual reality supermarket. During the month following the virtual reality training, the real-life shopping behaviours of the participants will also be assessed. The virtual reality training app is scheduled to be released via (among others) Digicomlab.
More details (in Dutch)
The virtual supermarket that is currently used in the project Testing Package Complexity in an Innovative 3D Virtual Supermarket Environment by prof. Edith Smit, dr. Nynke van der Laan, and dr. Corine Meppelink will be present at the Innovation Expo in Rotterdam!
The virtual supermarket has been developed at UMC Utrecht and the University of Amsterdam (UvA). This is a fully immersive shopping environment in which people can walk around and pick up products, and is used to understand how people make choices in a supermarket. More information here.
Bert Bakker and Claes de Vreese together with Gijs Schumacher and Frans Oort (both UvA) have received an NWO Investment Grant to open a Mobile Lab (more information here). As Bert explains:
Excellent social science research requires studies that are both internally and externally valid. Currently, there are many obstacles to achieve this. Lab studies often produce high internal validity, but primarily rely on student samples (external validity issue) and are conducted in clinical settings (ecological validity issue). To address this researchers move their lab to the field (e.g., schools, sporting events, museums or festivals). But researchers face high transaction costs with these so-called lab-in-the-field studies: there are many practical issues to consider and some of these even threaten the internal validity of the study.
We offer a simple and innovative solution by creating a mobile social science lab – The Mobile Lab. This facility enables researchers to easily set-up a lab across the country on specific locations. We will invest in mobile electroencephalography (EEG), eye-tracking and psychophysiology equipment as well as mobile cameras for in-depth interviews and behavioural observations. The Mobile Lab will be a national infrastructure and enable Dutch social scientists to test their theories on high-quality samples. In the coming months, the team will start developing the lab. More information will follow here soon.