Navigation Links
Virtual reality could help people lose weight, fight prejudice
Date:11/6/2012

Internet-based interactive games and social media outlets have become intertwined with the physical realities of millions of people around the world. When an individual strongly identifies with the cyber representation of themselves, known as an avatar, the electronic doppelganger can influence that person's health and appearance, according to a University of Missouri researcher's study. Harnessing the power of the virtual world could lead to new forms of obesity treatment and help break down racial and sexual prejudices.

"The creation of an avatar allows an individual to try on a new appearance and persona, with little risk or effort," said Elizabeth Behm-Morawitz, assistant professor of communication in MU's College of Arts and Science. "That alter-ego can then have a positive influence on a person's life. For example, people seeking to lose weight could create fitter avatars to help visualize themselves as slimmer and healthier."

In Behm-Morawitz's study, 279 users of a virtual reality community, Second Life, answered a questionnaire about their engagement with their avatar and relationships they developed online, as well as their offline health, appearance and emotional well-being. Self-presence, or the degree to which users experienced their avatars as an extension of themselves, was found to predict the influence of the avatar on people's physical reality. A strong sense of self-presence in the social virtual world positively promoted health and well-being of study participants. People with high degrees of self-presence in the cyber world reported that their experience with their avatar improved how they felt about themselves offline. Self-presence also correlated to greater satisfaction with online relationships.

"This study found no evidence of negative effects of a high degree of self-presence in the virtual world on study participants; however, that doesn't rule out the possibility," said Behm-Morowitz. "Users should practice moderation. Virtual entertainment, like other forms of diversion such as books or television, can be used in unhealthy ways."

Further research by Behm-Morawitz on virtual worlds will look at how avatars may be used to encourage tolerance of diversity. A person's race, gender or ethnicity can be altered in the virtual reality world and they can be put into simulated situations where they suffer prejudice and discrimination. Avatars can create the modern version of the book Black Like Me, in which the Caucasian author darkened his skin to experience life as an African-American in the Deep South of the 1950s.

"I am also interested in studying how using an avatar with a different race or ethnicity may increase empathy and decrease prejudice," said Behm-Morawitz. "This may occur through the process of identification with an avatar that is different from oneself, or through a virtual simulation that allows individuals to experience discrimination as a member of a non-dominant group might experience it."


'/>"/>

Contact: Timothy Wall
walltj@missouri.edu
573-882-3346
University of Missouri-Columbia
Source:Eurekalert

Related medicine news :

1. Insulite Labs announces the launch of the PCOS Inspiration Hour, a one hour virtual gathering place for women with PCOS and other women’s health issues to come together.
2. EliNext Completes Development of a Series of Virtual Reality Interactive 5D Simulation Games on Unity 3D
3. Virtual Colonoscopy Safe, Effective for Medicare Patients: Study
4. Virtual Patients New Addition to Psychiatry?
5. Virtual reality simulator helps teach surgery for brain cancer, reports Neurosurgery
6. Virtual boundaries: How environmental cues affect motivation and task-oriented behavior
7. New stroke treatments becoming a reality
8. Womens body talk: Perception stronger than reality?
9. Red wine, fruit compound could help block fat cell formation
10. Pulse pressure elevation could presage cerebrovascular disease in Alzheimers patients
11. Report says new evidence could tip the balance in aspirin cancer prevention care
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... June 24, 2016 , ... June 19, 2016 is World Sickle ... chronic pain and the benefits of holistic treatments, Serenity Recovery Center of ... Sickle Cell Disease. , Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) is a disorder of the red ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... 2016 , ... The Pulmonary Hypertension Association (PHA) learned during ... two significant new grants to support its work to advance research and patient ... recognizing patients, medical professionals and scientists for their work in fighting pulmonary hypertension ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... CA (PRWEB) , ... June 24, 2016 , ... ... is now offering micro-osteoperforation for accelerated orthodontic treatment. Dr. Cheng has extensive experience ... Damon brackets , AcceleDent, and accelerated osteogenic orthodontics. , Micro-osteoperforation is ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... ... BioMedics, Inc, makers of Topricin and MyPainAway Pain Relief Products, join The ‘Business for a ... an hour by 2020 and then adjusting it yearly to increase at the same rate ... assure the wage floor does not erode again, and make future increases more predictable. , ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... (PRWEB) , ... June 24, 2016 , ... ... today at the Clinical Decision Making in Emergency Medicine conference in Ponte Vedra ... authored journal articles published in Emergency Medicine Practice and Pediatric Emergency ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:6/26/2016)... -- Jazz Pharmaceuticals plc (Nasdaq: JAZZ ) ... Improvements Act of 1976, as amended ("HSR"), with respect ... Nasdaq: CPXX ) expired effective June 24, ... As previously announced on May 31, 2016, Jazz Pharmaceuticals ... which Jazz Pharmaceuticals has commenced a tender offer for ...
(Date:6/26/2016)... , June 26, 2016 ... care operating models within the health care industry is ... financial efficiency , Deloitte offers a suite of ... business issues impacting efficient cost optimization: labor resource analysis, ... These services facilitate better outcomes and better economics ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... OAKLAND, N.J. , June 24, 2016 /PRNewswire/ ... in the design, development and manufacturing of collagen ... and regeneration announced today that Bill Messer ... Sales and Marketing to further leverage the growing ... surgery medical devices. Bill joins the ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: