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Breathing based immersive interactions for enhanced agency and body awareness: a claustrophobia motivated study

This work explores utilizing representations of one’s physiological breath (embreathment) in immersive experiences, for enhancing presence and body awareness. Particularly, embreathment is proposed for reducing claustrophobia and associated negative cognitions such as feelings of restriction, loss of agency, and sense of sufocation, by enhancing agency and interoception in circumstances where one’s ability to act is restricted. The informed design process of an experience designed for this purpose is presented, alongside an experiment employing the experience, evaluating embodiment, presence, and interoception. The results indicate that embreathment leads to signifcantly greater levels of embodiment and presence than either an entrainment or control condition. In addition, a modest trend was observed in a heartbeat detection task implying better interoception in the intervention conditions than the control. These fndings support the initial assumptions regarding presence and body awareness, paving the way for further evaluation with individuals and situations related to the claustrophobia use case.