VR Technology Can Help People With Low Self-Esteem

According to the latest research that has been published in the UK, a virtual reality experience of inhabiting Albert Einstein’s body can help people who suffer from low self-esteem score higher on cognitive tests.

As per the study, just the mere perception of possessing Einstein’s body can help people ‘unlock their previously inaccessible mental resources’. Not only that, participants who undergo an “Einstein” experience, are also ‘less likely to unconsciously stereotype older people’.

What causes this change?

The study which has been published in a reputable journal called ‘Frontiers in Psychology’, suggests that the way in which our brain perceives our body is complex and highly flexible. For example, by using certain tricks and hacks, people can allay their fears related to pain, poor body image etc.

In relation to the aforementioned matter, Professor Mel Slater of Barcelona University had the following words

“Virtual reality can create the illusion of a virtual body to substitute your own, which is called virtual embodiment. In an immersive virtual environment, participants can see this new body reflected in a mirror and exactly matches their movements, helping to create a powerful illusion that the virtual body is their own”

She then went on to add

“We wondered whether virtual embodiment could affect cognition. If we gave someone a recognizable body that represents supreme intelligence, such as that of Albert Einstein, would they perform better on a cognitive task than people given a normal body?” 

How was the study carried out?

To start with, the study recruited 30 men, each of whom had to complete three tests in relation to their

  1. Cognitive thinking ability

  2. Self-esteem

  3. Implicit bias towards older people

Following this, the participants were then required to wear a specially devised tracking suit along with a VR headset. During the ’embodiment experience’ half the subject’s body underwent the Einstein simulation while the other half didn’t.

After completing some exercises in the virtual environment with their new body, they repeated the implicit bias and cognitive tests.

The Findings

After all of the comparative studies were completed, researchers found that that the people with low self-esteem performed the best when it came to completing cognitive tasks as compared with those who did not.

In summary, the cognitive enhancements were only found to have taken place in people with low self-esteem, thereby leading the scientists to hypothesize that those with low self-esteem had the most to gain by going through an ‘Einstein experience’.