The Importance of Perception to Productivity Work

BackpackmanPeople carrying a backpack or other weight typically estimate hills to be much longer and steeper than they really are, to a greater degree than unencumbered people.

It also turns out, however, that if someone puts a backpack on your avatar you will experience virtual “hills” as being longer and steeper than they really are. This is crazy! Don’t forget that, since both the avatar and hill are virtual, no actual energy is being expended other than for keyboarding! But we perceive an energy expense.

However, the effect is true only if it’s an avatar customized by you to look like yourself. I’m guessing that’s because, in the process of interacting with your virtual doppelganger, you’re also identifying yourself with that online persona and getting invested in the outcome. One can therefore reasonably speculate that perfectionists, who tend to overidentify with their work and get overinvested in their outcomes, are literally creating for themselves more of an uphill climb!

And the clever researchers, Sangseok You and S. Shyam Sundar, managed to demonstrate that literally. Welcome to the fascinating future, where we’ll see a lot more actual testing and quantification and delineation of heretofore untestable psychological, philosophical, and even historical precepts, thanks to virtual reality!

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