Social facilitation in virtual reality @ Wooow Sciencefestival

25-11-2018 from 14:00 to 17:00
Goudstraat, zaal 9.5 Americium
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Imec-mict-UGent does research work on the relationship between people and technology and develops reliable and valid methods to map this relationship. A challenge for research into "human-computer interactions" in an academic lab is to create a realistic and natural environment that makes the participant behave more like in real life This shift from human-computer interactions (HCI) to human-computer context interactions (HCCI) is crucial to be able to study concrete applications in addition to fundamental questions. That's why we want to investigate whether virtual reality can play a role in this research line. By using panoramic video images (360 °) we can create a context in which human-technology relationships can be studied.
In this concrete experiment we are interested in social facilitation or "audience effect". This effect from social psychology refers to the observation that people will behave differently when they are surrounded by an audience than when they are alone. In the presence of others, you will perform better on simple and already rehearsed tasks, while you will perform worse on complex or new tasks. Up to now, this phenomenon has been examined each time by using a 'real' audience. But what if your audience is virtual? In this experiment we investigate whether the audience effect can be replicated in a virtual reality environment. We ask participants to perform a specific motor task as quickly and accurately as possible. Since the participant rationally "knows" that the projected audience actually does not exist, the question is whether the effect will still occur. Does someone's behavior change if he is only 'viewed' by a video recording? If this turns out to be the case, follow-up research can be carried out with to what a virtual audience must comply in order to maintain the effect. What happens if the audience does not consist of people but virtual avatars or robots? Which kind of tasks are particularly sensitive to a virtual audience effect? How can we translate these results into an applied context?

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More information? Contact dr. Klaas Bombeke, dr. Wouter Durnez or junior researcher Jamil Joundi