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VR Valiance
January 31, 2013 10:52 AM   Subscribe

Dr. Robin Rosenberg, a clinical psychologist and expert in the psychology of superheroes, has conducted a new study showing that having people fly like Superman in a virtual-reality simulator makes them act more heroic in real life.
posted by obscurator (19 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
Sure, make it so everybody can fly! Then, when everyone's special...no-one will be.
posted by Greg_Ace at 11:07 AM on January 31, 2013


One assumes this is the same process that wherein wearing my SSR T-Shirt under my dress shirt makes me correct my posture and smile more?
posted by The Whelk at 11:07 AM on January 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm a little skeptical about using virtual reality flying simulations to trigger emotional responses. Dr. Lawrence Angelo was doing similar experiments in the early 1990s and they had some heartbreaking consequences.
posted by griphus at 11:18 AM on January 31, 2013 [2 favorites]


I've done a similar study in which I've found that by wearing my underwear outside my pants will always get me a seat on the bus.
posted by perhapses at 11:20 AM on January 31, 2013 [4 favorites]


Next to Jasper Carrot, probably.
posted by MartinWisse at 11:21 AM on January 31, 2013


thus superman underoos, emirate???
posted by liketitanic at 11:21 AM on January 31, 2013


Ah, Science! It's so undeniable.

What happens if the subjects fly around in VR as a supervillain instead ?
posted by zresearch at 11:28 AM on January 31, 2013


There's a song about that. http://youtu.be/j4q-Q6LSfuI
posted by dubwisened at 11:31 AM on January 31, 2013


Why? I mean, really, why?
posted by Mental Wimp at 11:33 AM on January 31, 2013


And did they try having them lip-sync to the line "Here I come to save the day!" like Andy Kaufman did on the Mighty Mouse theme song?
posted by Mental Wimp at 11:35 AM on January 31, 2013


This is really cool. Amy Cuddy has a couple of interesting videos about Power Poses and How body language shapes you and it looks like this is where Rosenberg is picking this up from.

These two excerpts from Rosenberg's book about Batman's Mental Health are interesting.*

Dr. Rosenberg is available to speak about various related topics including:

What's Wrong With Bruce Wayne?
Diagnosing the Joker
Forging Iron Man's Foundations
Buffy's Beginnings: From Caterpillar to Butterfly
Wolverine: Memory and Identity
Understanding Superman's personality
The Importance of Superhero Origin Stories
What Students Really Learn at Hogwarts


Meetup with a special guest speaker? Anyone? Although the one about Iron Man sounds like some fanfic.

*Those are links to Psychology Today, I apologize.
posted by P.o.B. at 12:03 PM on January 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


True story: years ago, after a long bout of playing DOOM, I took a break to walk around Torrey Pines State Park in La Jolla. Coming down the trail from the top of the cliffs to the beach, I reached a flat place about 20 feet above the sand. Looking down, I thought to myself, I could jump that.

Happily, my higher cognitive functions stepped in at that point and reminded me that I'm not a video game supertrooper.

I think it's possible that VR experiences might alter one's instinctive reaction to a situation. I'm not entirely convinced that that's a good thing.
posted by SPrintF at 12:04 PM on January 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think it's possible that VR experiences might alter one's instinctive reaction to a situation.

I don't even think it needs to be "VR" experiences. Years ago, I went out after a day of playing Flashback and alerted on every tiny thing I saw out of the corner of my eye. It was eerie.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 12:38 PM on January 31, 2013


The researchers never mentioned the word “superhero” or the prefix “super-“ during the experiment. But, the coauthors said, it was possible that “embodying the ability to fly in virtual reality primes concepts and stereotypes related to superheroes in general or to Superman in particular, and thus facilitates subsequent helping behavior in the real world.” Another explanation for the effect, they wrote, could just be that the participants who could fly were active agents in the VR game, while helicopter passengers were passive, “merely observers in the virtual world.”


Um, hello Stanford researchers? Maybe your flying participants were pretending to be helicopter pilots....
posted by Bwithh at 12:41 PM on January 31, 2013


Or it could mean that helicopter passengers are dicks.
posted by P.o.B. at 12:49 PM on January 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


Amy Cuddy has a couple of interesting videos about Power Poses and How body language shapes you and it looks like this is where Rosenberg is picking this up from.

See also previous studies from the same lab at Stanford on the psychological effects of avatars by Nick Yee (and, again, founder Jeremy Bailenson.) Seemed like a lot of interesting stuff in this area popped up around the peak of Second Life's popularity.
posted by Lorin at 1:00 PM on January 31, 2013


Or it could mean that helicopter passengers are dicks.

Oh, is this thing patched directly into Second Life?
posted by griphus at 1:28 PM on January 31, 2013


Wow. Life imitates "The Daly Show". (SLYT)
posted by panglos at 4:02 PM on January 31, 2013


After playing waaaay too many hours of Katamari Damacy, I would constantly be sizing up nearby objects to gauge whether or not they were small enough to roll over and pick up. This was especially problematic when I was driving.
posted by webmutant at 2:27 PM on February 1, 2013


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