Did the girl standing by the automatic doors just look at you? Does she think you’re strange looking? Is something wrong with your hair? Perhaps you’re paranoid and are just thinking too much of the situation? Well then, scientists at King’s College London just designed a virtual reality simulation of a subway car to both assess and help treat social anxiety disorders.
From the BBC:
During the four-minute ride the volunteers walked around a carriage filled with “virtual” passengers who behaved like real people.
The “avatars” – computer-generated characters – breathed, looked around, and sometimes met the gaze of the participants.
A pre-assessment showed that those who were anxious, worried, pessimistic, or had low self-esteem, were most likely to feel paranoid.
Researchers also said the number of people demonstrating paranoid feelings was higher than expected.
One participant who experienced paranoid thoughts told the scientists: “There’s something dodgy about one guy. Like he was about to do something – assault someone, plant a bomb, say something not nice to me, be aggressive.”
Of course the system needs to be tested against the old adage: “Just because you aren’t paranoid, doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get you”.
More with video at the BBC…
Press release: Virtual tube ride ‘paranoia hope’