Yee, N., & Bailenson, J.N. (2006). Walk a mile in digital shoes: The impact of embodied perspective-taking on the reduction of negative stereotyping in immersive virtual environments. Proceedings of PRESENCE 2006: The 9th Annual International Workshop on Presence. August 24 - 26, Cleveland, Ohio, USA.
In social psychology, perspective-taking has been shown to be a reliable method in reducing negative social stereotyping. These exercises have until now only relied on asking a person to imagine themselves in the mindset of another person. We argue that immersive virtual environments provide the unique opportunity to allow individuals to directly take the perspective of another person and thus may lead to a greater reduction in negative stereotypes. In the current work, we report on an initial experimental investigation into the benefits of embodied perspective-taking in immersive virtual environments. It was found that negative stereotyping of the elderly was significantly reduced when participants were placed in avatars of old people compared with those participants placed in avatars of young people. We discuss the implications of these results on theories of social interaction and on copresence.