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XR Research for Social Impact

The Superpowers of Virtual Reality

Research has established that VR can help us become  smarter as well as more creative, inclusive and compassionate – enhancing both our ability and our willingness to help others.

Why VR can make us better humans

10-minute lightning talk from the “Women In Tech” conference highlighting three reasons why Virtual Reality is an effective platform in stimulating prosocial actions (texted in Swedish by Utbildningsradion)

Play Video about Ylva Hansdotter

    VR allows us to virtually BE another person, an animal or a plant and we tend to develop empathy more easily toward the ones who are familiar to us, the ones we understand. It is well established through several decades of research that VR is more effective than traditional perspective-taking, and that virtually walking a mile in someone else’s shoes is a strong predictor for engaging in prosocial actions.


    Embodied cognition is the knowledge that our body influences our minds just like our mind influences our body. In VR there is an instant mind-body connection allowing the virtual environment, as well as our representation within it, to shape our cognition. To a certain degree our brains are treating a VR as reality, and it has been proven similar to actually doing – it can even create memories as if we had the experience in real life. This illusion lets us understand and learn faster, better and with higher memory retention.


    It has been show in several experiments that we can start to associate ourselves with the characteristics of our avatar. Embodying Albert Einstein in VR improved participants' problem-solving skills in the real world, and doing prosocial deeds in VR increased participants' willingness to help others in the real world. The changes are not only persistent while we are in the VR – VR can change real-life attitudes and behaviors.


We have a collective responsibility to work towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and XR Impacts’ main focus is to aggregate and facilitate both research and collaborative project leveraging immersive technology for the good of humanity and the planet.

One ambition is to ensure deepened collaboration with institutes and enterprises, ensuring knowledge transfer across the globe. XR Impact is part of a network of researchers focusing on VR and social action.