Home » News » Virtual Body-Swapping May Reduce Racism
Virtual Body-Swapping May Reduce Racism

Virtual Body-Swapping May Reduce Racism

A new study uses technology to create illusions that may be used to reduce prejudice and racism.

An illusion is a distortion of the senses, revealing how the brain normally organizes and interprets sensory stimulation. Though illusions distort reality, they are generally shared by most people.

In the new research, investigators exploit the brain’s ability to bring together information from different senses to make white people feel that they were inhabiting black bodies and adults feel like they had children’s bodies.

The study is published in the journal Trends in Cognitive Sciences.

Professor Manos Tsakiris of the Royal Holloway University of London and Professor Mel Slater of University College London and the University of Barcelona developed ways to expose participants to bodily illusions that induce ownership over a body different from their own with respect to race, age, or gender.

For white people who were made to feel that they had black bodies, their unconscious biases against black people diminished. And adults who felt as if they had children’s bodies processed perceptual information and aspects of themselves as being more childlike.

“Our findings are important as they motivate a new research area into how self-identity is constructed and how the boundaries between ‘ingroups’ and ‘outgroups’ might be altered,” said Tsakiris.

“More importantly though, from a societal point of view, our methods and findings might help us understand how to approach phenomena such as racism, religious hatred, and gender inequality discrimination, since the methods offer the opportunity for people to experience the world from the perspective of someone different from themselves.”

While there is no simple “cure” for racism or other biases, “the research shows that integration of different sensory signals can allow the brain to update its model of the body and cause people to change their attitudes about others,” said Slater.

Source: Cell Press/Science Daily

Virtual Body-Swapping May Reduce Racism

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Virtual Body-Swapping May Reduce Racism. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 19, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2014/12/16/virtual-body-swapping-may-reduce-racism/78703.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.