Contributor(s)The Pennsylvania State University CiteSeerX Archives
Full recordShow full item record
AbstractThirty-five adult participants tested the hypothesis that one’s mere belief in having a social interaction with someone improves learning and understanding. Participants studied a passage on the body’s mechanism for causing fever. They then entered a virtual reality environment with an embodied agent on the other side of a table. The participant read scripted questions relevant to the fever passage, and the agent gave scripted responses. In the Avatar condition, participants heard that the virtual representation was controlled by a person whom they had just met. In the Agent condition, participants heard that the virtual representation was computer controlled. The Avatar condition yielded better learning and inference at posttest, even though all interactions within VR were held constant across conditions. Skin conductance measures also indicated that the Avatar condition exhibited more arousal and that higher arousal was correlated with learning on a problem-by-problem basis. Further results suggest the hypothesis that the learning effect was not due to social belief per se, but rather in the belief of taking a socially relevant action.