One of the recurring themes that was coming up at the IEEE VR academic conference was how VR is starting to catalyze interdisciplinary collaborations between different academic fields including computer science, social science, neuroscience, and cognitive psychology. I talked with Dr. Slyvia Xueni Pan at the IEEE VR 2017 conference after she had organized a panel on virtual social interactions with Dr Antonia Hamilton, Prof Anthony Steed, Dr Laura Fademrecht, Prof Jonathan Gratch, and Dr Marco Gillies.
Pan has specialized in generating expressive virtual characters in order to create an empathic social interaction in virtual immersive environments. She talks about how VR creates ecological validity and experimental control in order to research social interactions ranging from mimicry, gaze, racial bias, subconscious reactions to blushing, and exploring variations of the rubber hand illusion. She also talks about how VR is facilitating cross-disciplinary collaborations between computer scientists and social psychology researchers.
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