“Virtual reality used to transfer men’s minds into a woman’s body”!!

Gosh! That sounds exciting.

Researchers projected men’s sense of self into a virtual reality woman, changing the way they behaved and thought…Scientists have transferred men’s minds into a virtual woman’s body in an experiment that could enlighten the prejudiced and shed light on how humans distinguish themselves from others…A man can have an experience of what it’s like to be a woman

So… One wants to know… What’s this experience like?

In a study at Barcelona University, men donned a virtual reality (VR) headset that allowed them to see and hear the world as a female character. When they looked down they could even see their new body and clothes.

The “body-swapping” effect was so convincing that the men’s sense of self was transferred into the virtual woman, causing them to react reflexively to events in the virtual world in which they were immersed.

Men who took part in the experiment reported feeling as though they occupied the woman’s body and even gasped and flinched when she was slapped by another character in the virtual world.

In the study, 24 men took turns wearing a VR headset that immersed them in a virtual room. Some men saw the virtual environment through the eyes of a female character who was sitting down, while others had a viewpoint that was just to the side of her.

During the experiment, a second virtual female approached and appeared to rub the person’s shoulder or arm. Researchers in the lab mimicked this sensation in the real world for some of the volunteers by rubbing their shoulder or arm, helping to reinforce their feeling of occupying the character’s body.

Later in the study, the second character lashed out and slapped the face of the character the men were playing. “Their reaction was immediate,” said Slater. “They would take in a quick breath and maybe move their head to one side. Some moved their whole bodies. The more people reported being in the girl’s body, the stronger physical reaction they had.”

Sensors on the men’s bodies showed their heart rates fell sharply for a few seconds and then ramped up – a classic response to a perceived attack.

As expected, the body swapping effect was felt more keenly by men who saw their virtual world through the female character’s eyes than those whose viewpoint was slightly to one side of her.

Wow! They’ve done it. That IS what it’s like to be a woman. Prejudice will soon be a thing of the past. (Big disclaimer: I haven’t read the study. It’s probably much better than the article.)

(Thanks, J-Bro!)

8 thoughts on ““Virtual reality used to transfer men’s minds into a woman’s body”!!

  1. Do you have a link to the article?

    And, do they explain why women were slapping other women?

    The whole thing seems rather odd.

  2. Men play as female characters in videogames all the time. Even in multiplayer games this is common. Even in non-competitive games like Second Life this is common. In the last couple of years there have been several high profile first person games with female protagonists, like Portal and Mirror’s Edge.

    Frankly this whole thing sounds like a bad cable channel soft-porn from 1995. “In the VR, we are totally free. Free from society. From prejudices. From inhibitions…” Cue music.

  3. Wow! That’s so brilliant! and it gives me, like, loads of other ideas.

    I mean, why limit it to gender? Sighted people could, like, wear a blindfold and then they’ll know *exactly* what it’s like to be blind! White people could put on dark make-up and find out what it’s like to be black!

    Oh, wait… Haven’t we been here before?

  4. What we actually have is junk reporting. The research and resulting paper the article draws on are quite different. There’s no talk about knowing exactly what it’s like to be a woman.

    What it is looking at is what gives one the sense that something is one’s body or part of one’s body. Human beings’ sense of what counts as their body appears to be very plastic. What they claim their work supports is the idea that we will instinctively regard the locus of our sensory experience as our body. One could see this as something like Cameron’s conjecture in Avatar: we can come to regard a robot as our body.

  5. The study indicates that the virtual reality subject “witnessed” one woman slapping another – not that it makes any significant difference in the subjects reaction for this article’s informational purpose.

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