Researchers from UCL Computer Science have published a paper demonstrating that men respond differently to virtual female characters implemented with different personalities. The paper, published by Frontiers in Robotics and AI was written by Xueni Pan and Mel Slater of UCL Computer Science as well as Marco Gillies from Goldsmiths College
Twenty-four male participants were invited to give two virtual candidates an interview. The two candidates were opposite in their personalities: one shy and nervous, the other one confident and somewhat aggressive. Half of the participants met the shy candidate; the other half met the confident one. It turned out that, although the two candidates followed an identical script in in their answers, the shy candidate received more positive feedback from the participants, and that they were less hesitant before calling her back.
This suggested that social rules in our everyday interaction also apply in virtual reality. In future, we could use this setting to test other social rules in VR that would be difficult to test in real life. This paper pushes the boundary of how much we could manipulate a human participant under the influence of virtual characters, and challenges the division between reality and virtual reality.
you can read the full paper here.