<quote> Some of the most powerful potential uses for VR are being studied at Stanford’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab, where faculty and students are testing things like whether mimicking the act of cutting down a tree in VR makes participants want to use less paper (it does, they say). Other studies have put white male participants into the body of a woman of color, who is then discriminated against by a virtual prejudiced man, or young people in the body of a 60-something man, so that they might not be ageist if they ever are interviewing someone older than they are for a job — which is a very real possibility at Stanford.
Some of the most interesting research, as described by lab manager Shawnee Baughman when I visited the lab this week, put some participants in a virtual helicopter flying aimlessly over a city, while others were asked to fly over the same city as a superhero, trying to deliver medicine to a diabetic child. When Baughman “accidentally” spilled her pens after the study was “over,” the superheroes were more likely to help her pick up, and picked up more. </quote>