Learning from avatars

Researching social interactions and training interpersonal skills in virtual reality.

Event Details


swissnex India
#26, Rest House Crescent Road, Bangalore, Karnataka 560001 India


January 16, 2019 from 12:30 pm to 3:30 pm Asia/India (UTC+05:30)


Free. Entry by registration only

Why – other than for fun – should you walk around in a virtual environment and encounter virtual humans if you can walk around in real environments and meet real people? One reason could be because you are a participant in research on social interactions. When studying social interactions, one of the big challenges is that your behavior is always influenced by the social interaction partner’s behavior, unless the social interaction partner is an avatar who behaves in the same way with everybody. Another reason for interacting with a virtual human is training of interpersonal skills. Virtual reality provides a “safe” environment in which you can experiment and improve on how you behave in a social situation (e.g., public speaking, job interview, etc.).

Marianne Schmid Mast presents the advantages and the limitations of using virtual reality for the study of social interactions and for training of interpersonal skills. Hear from her on Learning from avatars: Researching social interactions and training interpersonal skills in virtual reality.

Be part of this exclusive session, and enjoy the VR experience to explore how immersive virtual reality can be used for the simulation of social interactions.

Marianne Schmid Mast is a professor of Organizational Behavior at HEC at the University of Lausanne. After receiving her PhD in Psychology from the University of Zurich, she pursued her research at Northeastern University in Boston (USA). She held positions as assistant professor in Social Psychology at the University of Fribourg and she was a full professor at the Department of Work and Organizational Psychology at the University of Neuchatel. Her research addresses how individuals in power hierarchies interact, perceive, and communicate (verbally and nonverbally), how first impressions affect interpersonal interactions and evaluations, how people form accurate impressions of others, and how physician communication affects patient outcomes. She uses immersive virtual environment technology to investigate interpersonal behaviour and communication as well as computer-based automatic sensing to analyse nonverbal behaviour in social interactions. She is currently an Associate Editor of the Journal of Nonverbal Behavior and in the Editorial Board of the journal Leadership Quarterly. Marianne Schmid Mast is a former member of the Swiss National Research Council and acted as president of the Swiss Psychological Society. She is a Society of Personality and Social Psychology (SPSP) fellow and an American Psychological Association (APA), Division 8 fellow, honoured for her extraordinary, distinctive, and longstanding contributions to the science of personality and social psychology. In 2018, she was named one of the 50 most influential living psychologists.