Excessive Virtual Reality use results in depersonalization and derealization, finds study

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As The Metaverse aims to push humanity into a constant virtual reality, many are worried as to how the technology will affect humanity. While the metaverse is glorified in stories like Ready Player One, the dangers of excessive virtual reality use are often not touched on in sci-fi media.

In a study published in the Computers in Human Behavior science journal, VR use can heavily influence the minds of individuals. However, how much does the technology affect the perception of everyday life?

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What was the study?

Via PsyPost, a team of researchers set out to find out just how much VR alters the mind of its users. Study author Niclas Braun, University of Bonn’s Virtual Reality Therapy and Medical Technology head, explained the reasoning behind the study. He said:

“Since VR is a technology that can strongly influence people’s experience of reality, at least during VR exposure, we wondered whether VR might also affect their experience of reality towards the ‘real world’ after VR exposure. After a short internet search, we found some forum posts in which VR gamers complain about various dissociative symptoms and alienation experiences.”

This then led Braun and others to delve deep into the effects of VR on people. The study team gathered 80 people to play The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim in both VR and non-VR. Additionally, each participant was then tasked with completing the Cambridge Depersonalization Scale.

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Participants had to complete the Depersonalization test four times. Firstly, the players completed the test before gaming, after gaming, a day after gaming and a week after gaming. Additionally, other tests are used to judge the emotional response of players.

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Is Excessive Virtual Reality use bad for you?

The study found that just minor bouts of virtual reality can have a major impact on a person’s mental state. Braun explained that just " half an hour of VR use can induce mild symptoms of depersonalization and derealization”.

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However, Braun explained that the levels of depersonalization and derealization do not reach “clinically significant levels”. On the other hand, the study leader told the outlet that more research must be done before pushing people away.

For the next round of research, studies must be performed on different VR games and software. For example, does excessive use of VR social platforms increase derealization compared to games or vice versa?

Virtual Reality is still in its infancy, and studies surrounding excessive use of the technology have only just begun. Will studies on this subject have any effect on the creation of The Metaverse? Probably not.