New research using virtual reality and “doppelganger” avatars wanted to investigate if using an avatar that looks like a participant, would help the participant learn. The study compared using an avatar that doesn’t look like the participate to one that does. They were looking specially at whether it would improve public speaking.
In the study there were two different conditions, in the first participants gave a speech to a VR audience without any training. The second condition had participants watch either a doppelganger avatar or an avatar that did not resemble the participant, giving the speech with charisma. Then the participants gave the speech again.
The researchers wanted to investigate “the extent to which the use of doppelgangers as role models can boost trainees’ interpersonal skills development as compared to a role model that does not resemble the trainees.” Self-efficacy and gender were also taken in to consideration as potential variables.
The research found what was expected, the use of a doppelganger helped improve participant performance. Males with low self-efficacy were the most likely to benefit from the training.
Researchers postulate the reason for the finding are that participates with low self-efficacy have a greater motivation to put effort into a task that is done by their virtual self. Seeing oneself doing something might boost the the thought of “I can do that too”.
Emmanuelle P. Kleinlogel, Marion Curdy, João Rodrigues, Carmen Sandi, Marianne Schmid Mast. “Doppelganger-Based Training: Imitating Our Virtual Self to Accelerate Interpersonal Skills Learning.” PLOS ONE (First published: February 10, 2021) DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0245960