Virtual Reality Transforming Social Interactions

If you watch yourself in a virtual mirror as an attractive avatar for 90 seconds, you will stand closer to other virtual beings and be more confident about your own looks in filling out an online data application. What happens in virtual reality, effects reality.

This I learned from a very interesting lecture video by Jeremy Bailenson of Stanford’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab (VHIL).

With my communication scholar bias, I was particularly interested in learning how non-verbal communication in virtual reality can be incredibly powerful.  In an experiment called “Augmented Gaze” virtual students are more attentive when the virtual teacher is looking at them.  In another experiment called “Digital Chameleon” if an avatar mimics your head movements with a 4-second delay you find them more engaging and are more likely to be persuaded by them.

Of course, we know of the power of non-verbal communication in reality, but it’s power in virtual reality is a bit of a surprise for me.  I believe, as Bailenson states, this will transform social interactions.