Today’s Immersive VR Buzz: Scientists Use Yawning To Study Social Presence In VR

This was a very interesting BUZZ that I found today and wanted to share with you.

Originally posted on: https://vrscout.com/news

Contagious yawning is a well-documented phenomenon in which people – and even some non-human animals – yawn reflexively when they detect a nearby yawn.

Another aspect of this is that when people are in company, the presence of others also causes most of us supress that reflex (or at least try to).

So when studying the psychological effects of being immersed and interacting with others while immersed in virtual reality, researchers at the University of British Columbia decided to use yawning patterns as a benchmark to compare people’s behaviours in real-world, face-to-face interactions as opposed to VR.

And as often happens with such research – especially in what is still a relatively new field – the results were mixed and somewhat surprising.

To instigate contagious yawning in a VR environment, the team from UBC, along with Andrew Gallup from State University of New York Polytechnic Institute, had test subjects wear a VR headset and exposed them to videos of people yawning.

In those conditions, the rate of contagious yawning was 38%, which is in line with the typical real-life rate of 30-60%.

However, when the researchers introduced social presence in the virtual environment, they were surprised to find it actually had limited impact in terms of yawning.

Subjects yawned at the same rate, even while being watched by a virtual human avatar or a virtual webcam. It was an interesting paradox: stimuli that trigger contagious yawns in real life did the same in virtual reality, but stimuli that suppress yawns in real life did not.

The presence of an actual person in the testing room had a more significant effect on yawning than anything in the VR environment. Even though subjects couldn’t see or hear their company,

just knowing a researcher was present was enough to diminish their yawning; social cues in reality, therefore, appeared to dominate and supersede those in virtual reality.

“People expect VR experiences to mimic actual reality and thus induce similar forms of thought and behaviour,” said Alan Kingstone, a professor in UBC’s department of psychology and the study’s senior author. 

“This study shows that there’s a big separation between being in the real world, and being in a VR world.”

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360 video is a video that is recorded in all directions at the same time with multiple cameras. The videos are stitched together either internally in the camera or externally using special software.

It then forms one spherical video that is controlled by the viewer, enabling them to look up, down, right or left at their discretion.

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Recommended MicroSD Card for use with the Fusion 360 camera

Recommended MicroSD Card for use with the Fusion 360 camera 

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Or better still, are you using your Samsung Galaxy Smartphone with your Samsung Gear VR Headset?

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