Researchers say virtual reality could be used to give people a new perspective on racism -allowing them to experience life as another person.
British experts used the brain’s ability to bring together information from different senses to make white people feel that they were inhabiting black bodies and adults feel like they had children’s bodies. They hope the technique could be developed as a treatment for racism, religious hatred, and gender inequality. The researchers say the results are ‘remarkable’ and have important implications for approaching phenomena such as race and gender discrimination.
一个人对他人的消极态度往往形成于其少年阶段，并会在其成年后一直持续下去。“我们的研究成果很重要。得益于此，我们对于“人们如何建立自我身份”以及“如何区分自己人和外人”的研究发展到了一个新领域。“更重要的是，从社会角度来讲，我们的方法和研究成果或许能帮助我们处理诸如种族主义、宗教仇恨和性别歧视等问题。因为这个实验给参与者提供了一个从不同视角感受世界的机会。一旦你将参与者‘换’到另一个身体中，你便能改变他们的社会认知，也就是他们对待别人的方式。” 虽然我们无法轻而易举地“治愈”种族主义或其他偏见，但英国伦敦大学学院和巴塞罗那大学梅尔·斯莱特教授（Mel Slater）表示，“研究显示，融合不同的感官信号能使大脑更新其指挥身体的模式，进而让人们改变对待别人的态度”。
Negative attitudes about others are often formed at a young age, and they’re thought to remain relatively stable throughout adulthood. ‘Our findings are important as they motivate a new research area into how self-identity is constructed and how the boundaries between ‘ingroups’ and ‘outgroups’ might be altered,’ says Professor Manos Tsakiris. ‘More importantly though, from a societal point of view, our methods and findings might help us understand how to approach phenomena such as racism, religious hatred, and gender inequality discrimination, since the methods offer the opportunity for people to experience the world from the perspective of someone different from themselves. ‘Once you change people’s representations of what their bodies are like, then you can change their social cognition, which is the way in which we relate to others. ‘While there is no simple ‘cure’ for racism or other biases, ‘the research shows that integration of different sensory signals can allow the brain to update its model of the body and cause people to change their attitudes about others,’ says Professor Mel Slater of University College London and the University of Barcelona.
上述两位教授12月15日在细胞出版社的杂志《认知科学趋势》（Trends in Cognitive Sciences）上发表了一篇文章，其中解释了如何运用大脑的能力来融合不同感觉的信息，让白人感觉自己“有”了黑人身体，而成年人“换”到了孩子身体里。当那些白人参与者“有”了黑人身体后，他们对黑人无意识的偏见减少了。那些“有”孩子身体的成年人在感知信息时显得更孩子气。
In a paper publishing online December 15 in the Cell Press journal Trends in Cognitive Sciences, the pair explained how they have used the brain’s ability to bring together information from different senses to make white people feel that they were inhabiting black bodies and adults feel like they had children’s bodies. For white people who were made to feel that they had black bodies, their unconscious biases against black people diminished. And adults who felt as if they had children’s bodies processed perceptual information and aspects of themselves as being more childlike.
In another study, researchers led by Tsakiris used a different sort of body-swapping exercise, known as the “rubber hand illusion.”For this exercise, a rubber hand was placed in front of a participant, while one of the participant’s own hands was covered to block it from view. The person conducting the study then stroked the same points on both the rubber and real hands with a paintbrush. About three-quarters of participants said they experienced a feeling that the rubber hand was actually their own hand. If the rubber hand was threatened in some way (say, by a pointy object) the person felt heightened levels of stress, as if their real hand were about to be harmed.
Such stress remained regardless of whether the rubber hand was the same color as the participant’s skin: fair-skinned participants, even those who held strong biases against black individuals, reacted like the rubber hand was theirs even if it was brown.