Researchers use VR goggles to study effects of human ‘invisibility’

Brittany A. Roston - Apr 23, 2015
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Researchers use VR goggles to study effects of human ‘invisibility’

Researchers have managed to make people feel as if they were invisible using VR goggles, and that’s not a bad thing…at least not in the context of the study. The researchers found that by making people feel as if they were invisible, any social anxiety they might have experienced by standing in front of a crowd was lessened. Though the study and research in general are still in their early stages, it could pave the way to treatments for social anxiety, and could also answer some interesting questions about how humans would act if no one could see them.

The researchers used a fairly basic method for making the people feel as if their bodies had become invisible — they outfitted the volunteers with VR goggles displaying video feeds from elsewhere, making it seem when they looked down that they were seeing through themselves (e.g., that they were no longer visible).

To cement this, they then brushed the volunteer’s body with a paint brush while moving a brush simultaneously in the camera’s view — making it appear to the volunteer that someone was stroking their invisible body with the brush. When they were careful to line up the brushes so that they were in sync, the notion that that they were invisible became stronger in the volunteers.

After being “invisible” for one minute, the volunteers were put in front of a stern looking crowd, and their resulting heart rates and self-reported anxiety levels were lower than when standing fully exposed to the crowd. The researchers are planning to do brain imaging to see what goes on in the brain when someone believes they are invisible. Likewise, the researchers will also look into whether “invisibility” changes a person’s sense of morality.

SOURCE: Live Science


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