Feeling like a child again - Beaming research published in PNAS

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Feeling like a child again Immersive virtual reality can give adults such a strong illusion of being inside a child’s body that it affects their perception of the physical sizes of objects as well as their personal attributes, according to a study. Mel Slater and colleagues use immersive virtual reality to give adults avatars. Half had the virtual body of a 4-year-old and the other half a scaled-down adult body, the same size as the child body. Participants viewed their virtual bodies, which moved in real-time determined by the participants’ movements, from a first person perspective. Both groups reported that they felt a sense of “ownership” over their virtual bodies and both overestimated the size of objects in the virtual environment. However, participants in the child bodies overestimated object size by a greater degree than participants in scaled-down adult bodies. The “children” were also far more likely to associate with child-like attributes than the “small adults.” The sense of body ownership and differences in perception disappeared when the authors used the same virtual bodies, but disassociated participants’ movements from their avatars. This study demonstrates that the type of avatar can influence people’s size perceptions and self-attributes, a result that has potential in various computer-based applications, the authors argue. Journal reference: PNAS, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1306779110 Article #13-06779: "Illusory ownership of a virtual child body causes overestimation ofobject sizes and implicit attitude changes” by Domna Banakou, Raphaela Groten, Mel Slater

www.pnas.org/content/early/2013/07/10/1306779110.abstract