Title of the doctoral thesis:
Becoming Other. Virtual Embodiment – Blurring the Self-Other Binary
Opponent: Professor Mel Slater, Universitat de Barcelona
Custos: Professor Lily Díaz-Kommonen, Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture, Department of Media
“The research presented in my dissertation explores the impact of virtual reality (VR) and virtual embodiment technologies on the distinction between ‘self and other’ in interpersonal and intergroup contexts. In a series of five empirical experiments and three art projects, I investigated this self-other distinction in the context of the ever-evolving relationship between technology and the self.
Using stereoscopic 180º video, I explore the impact of virtual encounters transitioning from meeting others to becoming ‘the other.’ The first study shows that meeting in VR a person who shares a painful story elicits a high degree of empathetic care and facial synchrony. The next study shows that experiencing ingroup aggression from an outgroup perspective increases empathy towards the outgroup compared to seeing the same scenario from the ingroup’s perspective. Next, I present an art project devising a novel and effective technique to induce virtual embodiment using 180º stereoscopic video, followed by empirical evaluation and validation of this technique. Next, I show that meeting yourself in virtual reality as an experimental paradigm can increase self-compassion. And finally, in a VR museum installation, I demonstrate the potential of VR for social impact.
This manuscript explores various VR methods of placing participants “in others’ shoes” and provides both new insights and novel methods for using VR and virtual embodiment for storytelling, art installations, and social interventions. ”
The dissertation is publicly displayed online 10 days before the defence at:https://aaltodoc.aalto.fi/doc_public/eonly/riiputus/