Virtually being Einstein results in an improvement in cognitive task performance and a decrease in age bias

Article


Banakou, D., Kishore, S. and Slater, M. 2018. Virtually being Einstein results in an improvement in cognitive task performance and a decrease in age bias. Frontiers in Psychology. 9. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00917
TypeArticle
TitleVirtually being Einstein results in an improvement in cognitive task performance and a decrease in age bias
AuthorsBanakou, D., Kishore, S. and Slater, M.
Abstract

The brain's body representation is amenable to rapid change, even though we tend to think of our bodies as relatively fixed and stable. For example, it has been shown that a life-sized body perceived in virtual reality as substituting the participant's real body, can be felt as if it were their own, and that the body type can induce perceptual, attitudinal and behavioral changes. Here we show that changes can also occur in cognitive processing and specifically, executive functioning. Fifteen male participants were embodied in a virtual body that signifies super-intelligence (Einstein) and 15 in a (Normal) virtual body of similar age to their own. The Einstein body participants performed better on a cognitive task than the Normal body, considering prior cognitive ability (IQ), with the improvement greatest for those with low self-esteem. Einstein embodiment also reduced implicit bias against older people. Hence virtual body ownership may additionally be used to enhance executive functioning.

Keywordsbody ownership; embodiment; rubber hand illusion; virtual reality; executive functioning; age bias; implicit association test; Tower of London test
Sustainable Development Goals9 Industry, innovation and infrastructure
Middlesex University ThemeCreativity, Culture & Enterprise
LanguageEnglish
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
ISSN1664-1078
Publication dates
Online11 Jun 2018
Print11 Jun 2018
Publication process dates
Submitted27 Feb 2018
Accepted18 May 2018
Deposited30 Oct 2023
Output statusPublished
Publisher's version
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Copyright Statement

Copyright © 2018 Banakou, Kishore and Slater. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00917
Scopus EID2-s2.0-85048307943
Web of Science identifierWOS:000434817900001
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