From Lenin to Einstein: How Being Someone Else Can Change Your Behavior
Using immersive virtual reality it is possible to visually substitute the body of a person by a virtual body that is spatially coincident with their real body seen from first person perspective and that moves synchronously with their own movements. This typically leads to a perceptual illusion of ownership over that virtual body. Over the past few years we have studied how the form of the body influences aspects of their physiology, attitudes, behaviors and cognition. Here we will introduce the topic of virtual body ownership, and discuss examples of how this has been used both for personal enhancement and for changing attitudes and behaviors. We focus mainly on two applications – using embodiment to enhance interest in a story and for the performance of cognitive tasks.
Mel Slater is an ICREA Research Professor at the University of Barcelona in the Faculty of Psychology. He has been Professor of Virtual Environments at University College London since 1997 in the Department of Computer Science. He has been involved in research in virtual reality since the early 1990s, and has been first supervisor of 38 PhDs in graphics and virtual reality since 1989. In 2005 he was awarded the Virtual Reality Career Award by IEEE Virtual Reality ‘In Recognition of Seminal Achievements in Engineering Virtual Reality.’ He has been involved in and led several international projects in this field. He held a European Research Council grant TRAVERSE. He is Field Editor of Frontiers in Robotics and AI, and Chief Editor of the Virtual Environments section. He has contributed to the scientific study of virtual reality and to technical development of this field including its applications in clinical psychology and the cognitive neuroscience of how the brain represents the body. His publications can be seen on http://publicationslist.org/melslater. He is a Founder of the company Virtual Bodyworks S.L. and is currently Immersive Fellow at Digital Catapult London.