Virtual Reality Puts Men in Women's Bodies in Gender-Bending Experiments
As the Guardian reports, scientists at Barcelona University recently gave male volunteers virtual reality headsets in order to transfer them into women's bodies in an attempt to further examine human prejudice and gender identity. When the subjects wore the headsets, they could reportedly look down and see their new feminine stature, dressed in women's clothes. The method was so effective, in fact, that the men who participated in the study said they actually felt like women, and even flinched when their avatars were slapped by other characters in the virtual environment. Among the 24 men who agreed to momentarily change gender, some were immersed in a female's first person perspective, while others were placed just adjacent to the female. As anticipated, men who were given the personal female perspective felt the second female's 'slap' more strongly.
Researchers are hopeful that the results from the study could open a whole new sub-field of virtual reality experiments, moving the technology beyond the realm of environmental transfer into actual identity transfer. Researcher Mel Slater told The Guardian, "If you can temporarily give people the illusion that their bodies are different, then the evidence suggests it also affects their behavior and the way they think." Others are hopeful that similar technology could eventually be used to help stroke victims or other rehabilitating patients learn how to use their bodies again by placing them in an entirely different existence and perspective. If nothing else, though, it should at least save Iranian surgeons a whole lot of extra leg work -- or between-the-legs work, as the case may be. [From: The Guardian]