Experiencing opposite-sex body in VR causes gender identity shifts

New research shows that experiencing an opposite-sex body in virtual reality impacted the subject's gender identity.

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  • Scientists find that experiencing an opposite-sex body can affect a person's gender identity.
  • A new study utilized virtual reality to get subjects to feel like they had a stranger's body.
  • The researchers found that people's sense of their own gender became more balanced after the experiments.
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Viewing nature in VR or on television boosts wellbeing, study finds

"Interacting" with nature through virtual reality applications had especially strong benefits, according to the study.

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  • Previous studies have shown that spending time in nature can lead to a variety of mental and physical health benefits.
  • The new study involved exposing people to a high-definition nature program through one of three mediums: TV, VR and interactive VR.
  • The results suggest that nature programs may be an easy and effective way to give people a "dose" of nature, which may be especially helpful during pandemic lockdowns.
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Why virtual reality is necessary on a planet of 11 billion

Virtual reality is more than a trick. It's a solution to big problems.

  • According to projections shared by the UN, Earth's population is expected to reach 9.7 billion in 2050. By the year 2100, that number could increase to 11 billion. Virtual reality will be necessary to reduce the waste of such a large population in industries like transport, retail, and manufacturing.
  • As an existing technology, there is a lot that virtual reality can do: rich and immersive environments, heightened storytelling, emotionally resonant experiences, and increased productivity in retail. But it's only in its infancy.
  • As the world's population continues to grow, the technology will need to evolve to facilitate a larger network of users, and developers will have to think harder about the technological potential and the ethical, neurological, and emotional side effects.

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Can VR help us understand layers of oppression?

Researchers are using technology to make visual the complex concepts of racism, as well as its political and social consequences.

  • Often thought of first as gaming tech, virtual reality has been increasingly used in research as a tool for mimicking real-life scenarios and experiences in a safe and controlled environment.
  • Focusing on issues of oppression and the ripple affect it has throughout America's political, educational, and social systems, Dr. Courtney D. Cogburn of Columbia University School of Social Work and her team developed a VR experience that gives users the opportunity to "walk a mile" in the shoes of a black man as he faces racism at three stages in his life: as a child, during adolescence, and as an adult.
  • Cogburn says that the goal is to show how these "interwoven oppressions" continue to shape the world beyond our individual experiences. "I think the most important and powerful human superpower is critical consciousness," she says. "And that is the ability to think, be aware and think critically about the world and people around you...it's not so much about the interpersonal 'Do I feel bad, do I like you?'—it's more 'Do I see the world as it is? Am I thinking critically about it and engaging it?'"
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The COVID effect: How more time at home translated to record porn views

The line between work and play has became blurred during the pandemic.

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  • Pornhub measured its daily traffic and reported an average increase of 24% in daily traffic compared to days before COVID-19 lockdown.
  • During lockdown, VR porn has helped breach the gap between social distancing and human connection.
  • There are many reasons it's better to pay for porn than rely on free websites: it reduces exploitation, the quality is better, and you can dive into the world of VR.
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