VR Pornography Makes People Feel More Desired and Empathetic, Study Shows
Immersive technology can create a real feeling of connection, with potential to be an 'empathy machine.'
Recently, a team of researchers from the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, in Hamburg, Germany speculated that virtual reality (VR) experiences could trigger emotional responses in users.
In a paper published in The Journal of Sex Research, researchers working out of the university’s Institute for Sex Research, Sexual Medicine and Forensic Psychiatry observed that their subjects felt a greater sense of intimacy and empathy after viewing VR pornography versus two-dimensional videos.
The researchers even suggested that VR could be considered an “empathy machine.”
VR pornography made viewers feel “desired”
In the study, the research team showed a pool of fifty male-identified volunteers a random mix of two-dimensional and virtual reality adult films.
The subjects were then asked to report on how connected they felt to the performers. The research group also measured the amount of oxytocin, a hormone that influences feelings of connection and sexual response, in their saliva.
The results were definitive: the participants who watched VR pornography “felt more desired, more flirted with, [and] more looked into the eyes. They were also more likely to feel connected with the actors and more likely to feel the urge to interact with them.”
Creating empathy through VR
It is my belief that intolerance often stems from the inability to see others as fellow human beings. To break free of a limited worldview, it is important for people to gain awareness of what life is like for others.
The University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf experiment suggests that VR could be a useful tool to do just that.
Imagine the possibilities if someone could slip on a pair of VR goggles and experience life as someone with a different gender expression, sexual orientation, age, race, ethnicity, disability, and so on.
Considering the results of the VR pornography study, it is possible that this could create a real feeling of connection and understanding.
Freedom in privacy
Another thing to consider: VR experiences can be used as safe, private spaces.
For example, consider the plight of a person who is working through identity development involving gender or sexual orientation. With VR, this person can be who they want to be, or do whatever arouses them without fear of being watched or judged.
The new research shows that this person could also experience the positive emotional and physiological effects of interacting with other people in the VR experience.
The path to acceptance
With this and other new technological innovations, we may be on the road to a future where everyone would have the opportunity to experience what life, love, and sex is like for the people around them.
I have hope that this is the path towards greater understanding, acceptance, and especially empathy in our society.