Navigation Links
Virtual reality could help people lose weight, fight prejudice

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
University of Missouri-Columbia

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:
(Date:10/13/2017)... ... October 13, 2017 , ... Global Healthcare Management’s 4th Annual Kids ... Milford, NJ. This free event, sponsored by Global Healthcare Management’s CEO, Jon Letko, ... run is geared towards children of all ages; it is a non-competitive, non-timed event, ...
(Date:10/13/2017)... ... ... “America On The Brink”: the Christian history of the United States and ... of published author, William Nowers. Captain Nowers and his wife, Millie, have six ... years in the Navy. Following his career as a naval aviator and carrier ...
(Date:10/12/2017)... ... , ... IsoComforter, Inc. ( ), one of the Nation’s ... design of the shoulder pad. The shoulder pad provides optimal support and full ... while using cold therapy. By utilizing ice and water that is circulated from an ...
(Date:10/12/2017)... ... 2017 , ... HMP , a leader in healthcare events and education, today ... Digital Award for ‘Best B-to-B Healthcare Website.’ Winners were announced during the Eddie & ... award competition recognizes editorial and design excellence across a range of sectors. This year’s ...
(Date:10/12/2017)... ... October 12, 2017 , ... In ... taxes a year. In some states—like New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Texas, Virginia, ... overseas retirement havens have extremely low property-tax rates, which contributes to the relatively ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:9/12/2017)... Sept. 12, 2017   EcoVadis , the leading platform for environmental, ... first annual edition of its Global CSR Risk and Performance Index. The ... EcoVadis, based on Scorecard Ratings that analyzed nearly 800,000 data points across ... ... ...
(Date:9/12/2017)... , Sept. 12, 2017  ValGenesis Inc., the ... (VLMS), is pleased to announce the appointment of ... of its Board of Directors and Chairman of ... enables life science companies to manage their entire ... of paper in this process. Furthermore, ValGenesis VLMS ...
(Date:9/9/2017)... 2017 Dealmed Medical Supplies, New ... equipment, supplies, drugs, vaccines, and specialty medical products and ... agreement to acquire Vantage Medical Supplies, a major distributor ... Holtsville, New York . ... emerging medical practices, will operate under the Dealmed name ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: