alk to the Virtual Hands: Body Language of Both Speaker and Listener Affects Success in Virtual Reality Communication
This story is from the category World Specific Developments
Date posted: 14/10/2011
Modern technology allows us to communicate in more ways than ever before, but this virtual communication usually lacks the body gestures so common in face-to-face interactions. New research, published Oct. 12 in the online journal PLoS ONE, finds that the lack of gestural information from both speaker and listener limits successful communication in virtual environments.
Participants in the study played a communication game, in which one partner had to describe a word's meaning to his partner so that the partner could guess the word.
Importantly, the partners could only interact through animated avatars; in some cases the avatars were controlled by virtual reality suits worn by the participants, while in other cases the avatars remained static throughout the game or acted out pre-recorded gestures.
The researchers found that the best performance was obtained when both avatars were able to move according to the motions of their owner. Specifically, they found that, in addition to the body language of the speaker being important, the body language of the listener impacted success at the task, providing evidence of the need for nonverbal feedback from listening partners in successful communication.
The researchers note that there are limitations to nonverbal communication in virtual reality environments. First, they found that participants move much less in a virtual environment than they do in the "real world." They also found that the perspective of the camera in the virtual environment affected the results.
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