Stanford University

Virtual Reality’s Effect on Children’s Inhibitory Control, Social Compliance, and Sharing

Bailey, J.O., Bailenson, J.N., Obradovic, J., & Aguiar, N.(in press). Virtual Reality’s Effect on Children’s Inhibitory Control, Social Compliance, and Sharing. The Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology.

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Abstract

We compared the effects of different immersive technologies on four- to six-year-olds’ inhibitory control skills, social compliance (i.e., walking upon request), and sharing (i.e., physical stickers) with a children’s media character (Grover from Sesame Street©). Children (N = 52) completed an inhibitory control task, Simon Says, with Grover either via TV or VR. Children using VR were less likely to suppress a dominant motoric response during Simon Says (i.e., not imitating Grover’s actions at the appropriate time) compared to children using TV. More children in the VR condition approached Grover, and they shared a greater number of stickers with Grover compared to the TV condition (among those that shared). There were no differences between conditions for emotional or physical distress or children’s enjoyment of the experience. These preliminary findings suggest that VR may elicit differential cognitive and social responses compared to less immersive technology.

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