2022 journal article

Examining the Effects of Gender Transfer in Virtual Reality on Implicit Gender Bias

Human Factors: The Journal of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society.

By: L. Wu n & K. Chen

author keywords: virtual reality; gender transfer; implicit gender bias
Source: ORCID
Added: December 28, 2022

To investigate the effect of gender transfer in virtual reality on implicit gender bias.Gender bias is a type of discrimination based on gender, which can lead to increased self-doubt and decreased self-esteem. Sexual harassment is a hostile form of gender bias that can cause anxiety, depression, and significant mental health issues. Virtual reality (VR) has been employed to help make people become aware of their biases and change their attitudes regarding gender, race, and age.Forty participants were embodied in avatars of different genders and experienced sexual harassment scenarios in VR. A gender Implicit Association Test (IAT) was administered before and after the experience.There was a statistically significant main effect of participant gender (F (1,36) = 10.67, p = .002, partial η2 = .23) on ΔIAT, where males and females reported a decrease (M = -.12, SD = .24) and an increase (M = .10, SD = .25) in IAT scores, respectively. A statistically significant two-way interaction between gender transfer and participant gender was revealed (F (1,36) = 6.32, p = .02, partial η2 = .15). There was a significant simple effect of gender transfer for male participants (F (1,36) = 8.70, p = .006, partial η2 = .19).Implicit gender bias can be modified, at least temporarily, through embodiment in VR. Gender transfer through embodiment while encountering different sexual harassment scenarios helped reduce implicit gender bias. There was a tendency for individuals to increase bias for the gender of the avatar in which they embodied.The current research provided promising evidence that a virtual environment system may be used as a potential training tool to improve implicit gender bias.