In March 2020 we explained to you how virtual reality can be used to treat social anxiety disorders. The startup Oxford VR actually uses this technology on certain patients during 30-minute sessions. Once the helmet is in place, they are invited to perform everyday tasks of daily living such as getting on a bus or going to a store. The idea is to help them stop understanding this type of interaction.
We therefore knew the direct applications of VR in psychology. British researchers at Liverpool John Moores University have worked on how people react emotionally to a potential threat. Virtual reality is the ideal tool for this.
Personal data alarm
So they asked a group of volunteers to virtually run in an area made of ice blocks floating 200 meters above a snow-covered alpine valley. One of the surprising findings from this work is that the behavior of people who use VR can provide clear evidence of their personality.
Specifically, the latter became logically more cautious as the risks to which users were exposed increased. However, this tendency towards risk aversion was much more pronounced in participants with higher levels of neuroticism. People with this personality trait are more likely to be exposed to negative emotions. The specific consequences are greater exposure to anxiety, anger, or depression.
Hence, this discovery causes researchers to ring the alarm bells. Indeed, tech companies could create a personality profile of their users based on their interactions with VR. This information would then be used for advertising purposes, warn scientists, who are demanding much more transparency from manufacturers.