Virtual reality can be used to prevent infidelity and infidelity in real-world relationships

Virtual reality can be used to prevent infidelity and infidelity in real-world relationships

Biting the forbidden fruit: effect of flirting with a hypothetical agent on attraction to surrogate and current real partners. credit: Current research in environmental and social psychology (2022). DOI: 10.1016/j.cresp.2022.100084

Many people enter a monogamous romantic relationship with the hope of remaining faithful to their partner and enjoying all the benefits such a relationship can offer, including a sense of security, belonging, and intimacy. However, in an age when the possibilities are seemingly endless, maintaining sexual exclusivity becomes difficult, as you will witness high rates of infidelity.

Professor Jurit Birnbaum of Reichmann University’s Effscher School of Psychology and Professor Doron Friedman of the Sammy Ofer School of Communication, along with honors graduate Yael R. Chen, doctoral student Kobi Zoltak, and Dr. Jonathan Geron, investigate how Virtual Reality They can be used to examine conditions that would help people in monogamy a relationship Resist the temptations of disbelief.

The researchers based their study on the pollination theory, which proposes increased susceptibility to vulnerable threats Self control By allowing people to prepare in advance for a more serious threat. As an illustration, imagine a situation where you decide to limit your food intake in order to lose weight. Encountering a forgotten, half-eaten biscuit may remind you of your desire to lose weight.

This heightened awareness of the goal you set for yourself will encourage you to resist the greater temptation of your favorite cookies, fresh out of the oven, which pose an even greater threat to your diet.

The researchers conducted three experiments in which they tested whether exposure to a weak relationship threat, in the form of flirting with a hypothetical character, would help immunize people against real-life temptations that might threaten the stability of their romantic relationship. In this context, exposure to a weak threat is expected to make people aware of their current obligations a partner Preparing them to deal with a more serious threat to their relationship.

Accordingly, the researchers hypothesized that exposure to temptation virtual character It would increase people’s desire to protect their current relationship, so that they would later feel more desire for their current partner and see alternative partners as less sexually attractive.

To test the research hypothesis, in all three experiments, participants in monogamous relationships put on virtual reality (VR) goggles and “walked” into a bar. There they had a conversation with a hypothetical waiter whose gender was the same as their partner.

The waiter acted in two ways: in the experimental condition he was flirting with the participants, and in the control condition he was acting neutral towards them. Next, each participant met a real person. At the end of this session, the participants were asked to rate their feelings and perceptions, both while interacting with the virtual waiter and while interacting in the real world.

In the first experiment, an engaging interviewer interviewed the participants about their attitudes towards various personal issues immediately after interacting with the hypothetical waiter. The interviewer used a set script, asking questions like, “Should people play ‘hard to get’ at the beginning of a relationship?”

Interviewers are pre-trained to radiate warmth and show interest in participants. At the end of the interview, the participants rated how much sexual attractiveness they saw in the return. The results revealed that after flirting with the virtual waiter, participants perceived the interviewer to be less sexually attractive compared to participants who initially interacted with a neutral virtual waiter.

In the second experiment, the researchers sought to examine whether participants who engaged in an encounter with the flirtatious virtual waiter would not only perceive a real person as less sexually attractive, but also reduce their actual interaction with them. To this end, after the virtual interaction, the participants met an attractive stranger who asked them for help.

The experiment focused on offering assistance because this is a more legitimate channel for expressing interest in a potential partner than blatant flirting, especially when people are in a relationship defined as monogamous.

Specifically, the participants met an attractive person (of the same sex as the participant’s partner), who they thought was another participant but who was actually collaborating with the research team. The participant and the research team member were asked to sit side by side and build two five-story pyramids using plastic cups.

When the “collaborator” finished building the third floor of the pyramid, he kicked it out, ostensibly by accident, saying, “Oh! I’m so clumsy! Can you help me rebuild my pyramid?” Using a stopwatch hidden in their pocket, the research team member measured the amount of time the participants spent helping to rebuild the pyramid.

As the researchers hypothesized, the participants who interacted primarily with the attractive virtual waiter spent less time offering assistance compared to those who interacted primarily with the neutral waiter avatar.

In the third experiment, the participants were invited into the laboratory with their partners. Couples were separated into different rooms, one interacting with the virtual waiter, and the other watching a neutral video.

After the virtual interaction, the participants were reunited with their partners, and asked to have a discussion with them about the pathological and frustrating aspects of their sex lives. At the end of the discussion, the participants rated how much they felt sexual desire towards their partners and towards others.

The results showed that participants whose initial interaction with the flirtatious virtual waiter reported stronger sexual desire for their partner and lower sexual interest in others, compared to those whose initial interaction was with the neutral virtual waiter.

“The results of the three studies suggest that it is possible to vaccinate people and make them more resistant to threats to their romantic relationship,” says Professor Jurit Birnbaum of the Baruch-Effscher School of Psychology at Reichmann University. This is the first study in the world to show how virtual reality interaction can improve relationships in the real world. .”

“The study shows that a weak virtual threat, which by definition cannot directly harm a relationship, allows people in a monogamous relationship to prepare in advance to deal more effectively with significant threats in the real world. In this way, VR interactions may contribute to people’s ability to to maintain stable and satisfactory relationships with their de facto partners.

The results have been published in the journal Current research in environmental and social psychology.

more information:
Birnbaum et al., Biting the forbidden fruit: Effect of flirting with a hypothetical agent on attraction to real, existing partners, Current research in environmental and social psychology (2022). DOI: 10.1016/j.cresp.2022.100084

Provided by Richman University

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